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Marseille, France City Info
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Europe > France
Marseille Nice Paris

807,071 in the city center; over 1,000,000 if the surrounding area of the city is included.

Bouches du Rhône

On highway A7 and route N7; 479 miles S of Paris, 116 miles SW of Nice, 19 miles S of Aix-en-Provence

Time Zone:
Greenwich Mean Time plus one hour. The French equivalent of daylight saving time lasts from around April to September, which puts it 1 hour ahead of French winter time. Depending on the time of year, France is 6 or 7 hours ahead of U.S. eastern standard time.

Dialing Code:
The zone prefix for Marseille is 04. Dial the full 10 digit number (which includes this prefix) for local calls. The country code is 33. (use the country code only when calling Marseille from another country).

Currency is the Euro (EUR). The notes are in denominations of 500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10, and 5 euro. The denominations of coins are 2 euro, 1 euro, 50 euro cent, 20 euro cent, 10 euro cent, 5 euro cent, 2 euro cent, and 1 euro cent. The easiest method of securing cash at the best exchange rate is to make withdrawals using a US credit card from the ATM machines found at the major banks and stores.

Customs Regulations:
Tele 01 43 12 22 22 for information Mon.-Fri. 9-3.

The Mediterranean coast has the driest climate in France. Most rain falls in spring and autumn. Summers are comfortably dry. Provence experiences le mistral (a cold, violent wind from the French and Swiss Alps that blows south down the Rhône Valley). It most often blows in winter, sometimes for a few days, but sometimes for up to 2 weeks.

Average Temperatures (In Fahrenheit):
High Low
January - March 59F 35F
April - June 79F 46F
July - September 84F 63F
October - December 68F 37F

National Holidays:
In France, holidays are known as jours feriés. Shops and many businesses (banks and some museums and restaurants) close on holidays, but hotels and emergency services remain open.

New Year's Day Jan 1
Easter Sunday (varies) and Easter Monday
V-E Day in Europe May 8
Whit Monday mid May
Ascension Thursday 40 days after Easter
Bastille Day July 14
Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Aug 15
All Saints' Day Nov 1
Armistice Day Nov 11
Christmas Dec 25.

Business Hours:
Most banks are open Monday to Friday from 9:30am to 4:30pm. Many, particularly in smaller towns or villages, take a lunch break at varying times. Hours are usually posted on the door. Most museums close 1 day a week (often Tuesday), and they're usually closed on national holidays. Usual hours are 9:30am to 5pm. Some museums, particularly the smaller ones, close for lunch from noon to 2pm. Most French museums are open on Saturday; many are closed Sunday morning but open Sunday afternoon. Offices are, in general, open Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm, but always call first. In some small stores, the lunch break can last 3 hours, beginning at 1pm.

In France they are called pharmacie. Pharmacies take turns staying open at night and on Sunday; the local Commissariat de Police will tell you the location of the nearest one.

In general, expect 200 volts, 50 cycles, though you'll encounter 110 and 115 volts in some older establishments. Adapters are needed to fit sockets. Many hotels have two-pin (in some cases, three-pin) sockets for electric razors. It's best to ask your hotel concierge before plugging in any appliance.

In an emergency while at a hotel, contact the front desk to summon an ambulance or do whatever is necessary. But for something like a stolen wallet, go to the police station in person. Otherwise, you can get help anywhere in France by calling tel. 17 for the police or tel. 18 for the fire department (pompiers).

Most post offices in France are open Monday to Friday from 8am to 7pm and Saturday from 8am to noon. You can exchange money at post offices. Many hotels sell stamps, as do local post offices and cafes displaying a red "tabac" sign outside.

Most major cities carry copies of the International Herald Tribune, USA Today, and usually a major London paper or two. Nearly all big-city newsstands also sell copies of Time and Newsweek

Those intending to visit the south of France, especially Marseille, should exercise extreme caution: robberies and muggings here are commonplace. It's best to check your baggage into a hotel and then go sightseeing instead of leaving it unguarded in the trunk of a car, which can easily be broken into.

As a member of the European Union, France routinely imposes a value-added tax (VAT) on many goods and services. The standard VAT on merchandise is 20.6%. Refunds are made for the tax on certain goods, but not on services. The minimum purchase is 1,200F ($204) for nationals or residents of countries outside the EU

You'll find public phone booths in cafes, restaurants, post offices, airports, and train stations and occasionally on the streets. Pay phones accept coins of 1/2F, 1F, 2F, and 5F; the minimum charge is 1F (15¢). Pick up the receiver, insert the coin(s), and dial when you hear the tone, pushing the button when there's an answer.

The French also use a télécarte, a phone debit card, which can be purchased at rail stations, post offices, and other places. Sold in two versions, it allows you to use either 50 or 120 charge units (depending on the card) by inserting the card into the slot of most public phones. Depending on the type of card you buy, they cost 41F to 98F ($6.95 to $16.65).

When calling from outside France, dial the international access code for your country, the country code for France (33), and then the last nine digits of the number, dropping the 0 (zero) from the area code.

All bills, as required by law, are supposed to say service compris, which means that the tip has been included.

Getting There:

By Air
The Marseille airport 04-42-14-14-14, 18 miles north of the center in Marignane, receives international flights from all over Europe. From the airport, blue-and-white minivans (navettes) make the trip from a point in front of the arrivals hall to Marseille's St-Charles rail station near the Vieux Port for a low one-way fee. The minivans run daily at 20-minute intervals, 6:20am to 10:50pm. St. Charles Train Station: 3hr. 50 minutes from Paris by TGV (high speed train).

By Train
For rail information and schedules 08-36-35-35-35. The city is the terminus for the TGV bullet train, which departs daily from Paris's Gare de Lyon (trip time: 4 3/4 hrs.). Local trains from Paris arrive almost every hour. Marseille has especially good train connections to and from Italy.

By Bus
Buses pull into the Gare Routière, on the place Victor Hugo 04-91-08-16-40), adjacent to the St. Charles railway station.

By Automobile
Take the A7 autoroute into Marseille.

Districts of Marseille:
There are 111 different districts in Marseille, of which the following are the most frequently visited:

Le Vieux Port
The old port is one of the best-known parts of Marseilles and its streets are lined with restaurants and cafés. In the mornings, fishermens wives auction off their wares in the fish market opposite the boats.

La Canebière
This is the most famous road in town. Along it you will see shopping streets such as Rue St Ferréol, and the Musée de la Mode, the Musée de la Marine, and the Opéra.

Le Panier
A walk through this popular district, close to the old port, takes you around the Provençal pedestrian streets lined with multi-colored buildings. The Clocher des Accoules, la place des Moulins, la Vieille Charité and la Major are all rich in history.

La Joliette
The Joliette docks are the long red brick buildings along the motorway footbridge. The 4 blocks of buildings were built in the nineteenth century and the interiors have been completely renovated. The Musée des Docks Romains charts the history of the port of Marseille.

La Plaine
In Marseille, Place Jean Jaures is also known as La Plaine. This huge square has a market on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays and a busy shopping area at other times. In the adjacent streets, there is a wide choice of restaurants, bars and pubs.

Le Cours Julien
Just along from La Plaine, le Cours Julien is where young people like to go as there is a good variety of cafés, cabarets and fringe theatres such as Chocolat-Théâtre. For concerts there is Espace Julien. There are many antique shops and clothes boutiques.

Bars and cinemas such as César and the Prado keep this square at the end of the Rue de Rome busy day and night.

Le Prado
People come to the Prado to see the buildings that line the main road, the Boulevard Périer and the Rue Paradis. The Parc Borély and its castle provide one of Marseilles biggest open spaces. The racecourse here is also very popular.

This district is dominated by Notre Dame de la Garde. The name La Bonne Mère (literally 'the Good Mother') comes from the enormous statue of the Virgin Mary on top of the bell tower. This church is an important site for pilgrims.

La Corniche
The Corniche (coastal road) winds along the Mediterranean coast . Upscale villas are located in this district, as is the Musée d'Art Contemporain. From all directions, you can admire the open sea.

Palais Longchamp is a favorite place for walks.You can also visit the Musée Grobet Labadié, the Musée des Beaux Arts and the Muséum d?Histoire Naturelle - the natural history museum which used to be a zoo and has been converted into a park.


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