Marseilles is the oldest city in France and also one of the oldest inhabited territories.
Towards 600 BC, the Greek settlers of Phocea (Asia Minor) founded the city.
This second French town of the country, with a typical Mediterranean climate, belongs to the Provençal region. Located at the crossroads of many cultural exchanges, this multiethnic city nevertheless keeps its latin and Provençal features. Marseilles is considered as the first Corsican city, the second Armenian, and counted many waves of Spanish, Italian, Russian immigrants. Hundreds of thousands French settlers, repatriated after the Algerian Independence, arrived in the 60’s. Twenty-five per cent of the population of Marseilles is Muslim and live together with populations of different religions. Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde, called “Bonne Mère”, watches over the city. From this highest point, it is possible to see the isles of Frioul.
Over the last ten years, Marseilles has become a great international euro-mediterranean centre in economic, political and cultural fields. At the beginning of the 20th century, the city was marked by Le Corbusier and his “City Radieuse”. Since then, it has been rapidly changing: by 2012, three towers will be built on the sea front. A tower of 150 meter high,the new headquarters of the international maritime group (CMA CGM), has been designed by Zaha Hadid. This building will become the highest of the town: its “lighthouse” says Mr Gaudin, the Mayor of the town.
Marseilles will be European capital of Culture in 2013.