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Marseille: a hidden gem for doing business

The old port at Marseille by night with lights reflected in the water.
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Have you considered a company meeting or a client presentation in Marseille?

When you think of the South of France, in terms of business meetings or conventions, France’s second city doesn’t come immediately to mind.

I’m somewhat guilty of this omission myself and I decided it was high time to renew my personal knowledge of Marseille. So I took some advice from the always helpful Marseille Office de Tourisme MICE department and off I went for a couple of nights at the end of November. And what a positive experience it turned out to be.

What is Marseille like for business travellers?

 

When you first think of Marseille, its edgy reputation comes to mind. It has always been the gateway to France from North Africa, and a major port. And that has helped create a special atmosphere. Add to that the 1960's movies starring Alain Delon and Jean-Paul Belmondo, not forgetting French Connection with Gene Hackman. Watch them and you’ll get the message.

But from my visit, the reality in 2018 is somewhat different. Yes, the cosmopolitan feel is still very much there. Just visit the Quartier Noailles - its food shops, bustling markets, spices and pastries -you could easily be in North Africa.

The transformation taking place, particularly near the docks, where port buildings have been or are being upgraded to trendy bars, restaurants and meeting venues, is giving a real 21st century feel to the city.

Is Marseille better value than Cannes for hospitality?

Probably the second thing that struck me was how much better value it represents compared to further east along the coast. Particularly in terms of accommodation and eating out. And with regular flights from the UK plus the direct Eurostar service , it is just as easy to get to. I stayed with NH Hotels at their fabulous modern Nhow which has recently been refurbished to reflect Marseille’s shady past but superb Mediterranean location. A truly imaginative and edgy mixture.

See the sights in and around Marseille

A calanque, a steep-sided limestone bay on the Mediterranean. Clear blue water, cliffs and vegetation.

In Marseille itself the Prado, Vieux Port and MUCEM (the cutting-edge Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations) are must-visits. But Marseille is close to Roman Provence (Arles and Nîmes), the extraordinary wetlands of the Camargue and the famous steep-sided bays, or calanques, south of the city. If you are entertaining clients, we at vca can definitely recommend some original itineraries and activities – call us for a chat.

So we’re pretty up-to-date on the fascinating city of Marseille and ready to assist with your own meeting, project or visit to the South of France. Give us a call and tell us what you need.