Marseille's Old Port is one of the most picturesque parts of France's second largest city. This area has been the hub of activity in Marseille from Antiquity to the Middle Ages, and today it is as busy as ever. Dominated on one side by the Panier (Old Town) and on the other by Notre Dame de la Garde, the Old Port, or Vieux Port, has been the beating heart of Marseille for over 2000 years.
Marseille, the Phocaean city
Marseille is one France's oldest cities, and its history has been performed on the Old Port for 26 centuries. The legend goes that the city was founded by Protis, whose family still exists nowadays, under the name of Protiades." Massalia" for the Greeks, Roman "Massilia" and later during the Middle age "Masiho" expanded on the northern bank and to the south in the 17th century. Entry to the port was henceforth guarded by two forts, Fort Saint-Nicolas and Fort Saint-Jean.
Marseille, a true ocean-side oasis
Today the Old Port is still a favourite spot to be explored with family and friends, both for locals and tourists to hang out and enjoy life. The port is now used today as a marina, as a terminal for local boat trips, and hosts a local lively fish market. The picturesque and vibrant quays are not only the setting for markets and historical buildings, but also cafés and restaurants that specialize in fresh-from-the-boat seafood. The U-shaped Old Port is lined by restaurants and cafés, mostly arrayed along the northern quai du Port and along the southern quai de Rive Neuve. The shortest side of the port has kept changing its name through the centuries. Since 2000, it is called quai de la Fraternité on the side nearest the harbor and quai des Belges on the side nearest the town.This is where to find the boat shuttles to the Château d'If, to Pointe Rouge and to L'Estaque as well as the boat companies offering excursions to the calanques.
A recent redesign, where traditional and modern meet
In 2013, for the European Capital of Culture, the Old Port was semi-pedestrianized, as part of a big redevelopment project designed by the British architect Norman Foster and Michel Desvigne Paysagistes, to open up the space for bars and restaurants, vendors and public events. Part of the southern end is shielded by a dramatic and very photogenic large, stainless steel mirrored sun canopy, pictured. Designed by Norman Foster, it's a favorite spot for selfies.