Marseille, France's second largest and oldest city, known for its historic football team, drug lords and crime. Many will warn you not to visit and if you do they will offer you a few pieces of advice: "keep your items close and never for any reason head to the north". And while I may agree, you should not head to the north, there is is so much more to this city than crime. I've listed a 5 reasons as to why you should give Marseille a second chance and add it to your travel plans:
1. There will never be a dull day in Marseille. There are so many places to visit and the city offers an activity for every personality type. For the art-goers, take the Palais Longchamp (pictured above), opened in 1869 to celebrate the Canal de Marseille which brought water to the city. Today, it houses two museums: Natural History Museum and Musee des beaux-arts.
2. The Calanques offers adventure to those who love the outdoors. There are almost 20 km of marked trails from Marseille to Cassis. My best advice on a hot day is to head down to the sea, bring your bathing suit, bottle of water and have a picnic. You'll find many Marseillais there enjoying the sun and sea.
3. Prado Beach is the center of tanning, swimming and ice cream! Not to mention there is a small snack shack that serves refreshing cold beer and my favorite: Monaco. It is a must try, if you haven't had it already-blonde beer, carbonated lemonade, and grenadine. Perfect for a sunny day!
4. The Marseillais are great people. They love a good laugh and are extremely prideful of their city. If you ever ask someone from Marseille if they are French, they will first tell you "I am Marseillais". Overall, the city is a melting pot of people from North Africa, various parts of Europe and Asia. You will see that reflected in the restaurants and markets (which I highly suggest trying).
5. Marseille was awarded European Capital of Culture in 2013 and is set to win the award for European Capital of Sports 2017. It is also making a lot of new renovations to the downtown area for the 2016 Euro Cup which it will be hosting along with 9 other French cities.
Like any large city there may be some dangers and you should always take precautions: don't go out at night alone, leave your valuables at the hotel and just stay vigilant. But, it shouldn't hold you back from discovering a new city. Marseille is one of those places that has charm and character built into its history. It's worth seeing with your own eyes and experiencing first-hand. I hope my 5 reasons were enough for you to give Marseille a second chance!