A magical and spectacular natural site, 2,600 years of fascinating history, the irresistible charm of picturesque areas, an idyllic climate, and fantastically easy to reach, The Phoenician City is a popular tourist destination whose popularity soared in 2013 when Marseille-Provence was named the European Capital of Culture.
Marseille is France's second-largest city, the capital of the French region of Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur. It's a city with much to offer, from its beautiful Mediterranean climate, the Roman remains of its original settlement named Massalia to its main boulevard, La Canebiere, which ends at Vieux-Port ("Old Port"). It is the fort of Saint-Jean on the water's edge, dating to 1660 and, rising above it all, the basilica of Notre Dame de la Garde, known here affectionately as La Bonne Mere, "The Good Mother."
The city of Marseille has been working with its public and private partners for fifteen years to become the Mediterranean’s top business tourism destination. Over $660 million has been invested in several sectors in recent years to help Marseille find its rightful place among the great Euro-Mediterranean metropolises.
The city's airport is Marseille Provence Airport (MRS), which is 17 miles northwest of the city center. It has service to more destinations than all other French airports, except the ones in Paris, but only two direct flights to North America, serving Montreal and Toronto.
Marseille is but a stone’s throw from most European capitals: London, Berlin, Rome, Moscow, Madrid, and Brussels. The city has a central train station with TGV connections to Paris (3 hours), Frankfurt, Brussels, Geneva, and Barcelona, as well as 2015 Eurostar connections to London.
Marseille doesn’t disappoint with its wide variety of convention centers, venues, and an ever-growing number of hotels. The foremost MICE venue, Marseille Chanot, is also known as the Marseille Exhibition & Convention Center. It covers 42 acres and includes an auditorium for 1,200 persons, Palais des Événements for gatherings of 3,200, Palais de Arts with four conference halls and two reception halls, and the 6,503-square-foot Palais de la Mediterranee. The space has been bought up to date with the construction of the Palais de l’Europe (5000m² of exhibition space), and the Palais des Congrès, which now has an impressive glass façade. The Palais des Événements has a system of mobile tribunes to accommodate 1,600-3,200 person events.
Marseille MICE hotels include the 194-room InterContinental Marseille Hotel Dieu, whose largest function room, Salon des Honneurs, can cater up to 460 persons; the 189-room Radisson Blu Hotel Marseille, Vieux-Port, which can put on a reception for up to 275 persons; the 160-room Pullman Marseille Palm Beach, with an auditorium for 360 persons; the 134-room Sofitel Marseille Vieux-Port, which can host up to 160 persons in its largest area; and the hip, 127-room Mama Shelter Marseille, which was co-created by Philippe Starck and has four spaces, the largest able to cater to 80 persons. (The last three properties are all in the Accor Hotels stable.)
Alongside the 900-seater auditorium in the Palais du Pharo, a prestigious site built by Napoleon III, 10 new conference rooms with sea views were opened in February 2013, plus a 300-seater conference room and restaurant (1000 covers) with a terrace overlooking the Old Port. Other unique MICE spots in Marseille include the cultural center Le Docks des Suds, which puts on headline entertainers and festivals, is in the Vieux-Port, and has spaces for receptions, conferences, and meetings for between 100 and 15,000 persons.
More on the list are La Palais de la Bourse de Marseille, or old stock exchange, which is decked in Second Empire architecture and contains The Great Hall, on La Canebiere and 37 meters of length, 27-meters-high ceilings, and room for 600 persons; the exciting island fortress of L'Ile Degaby, 457 meters from shore and supposedly was the prison of the Count of Monte-Cristo in Alexander Dumas' novel of the same name. Today it can stage events, indoors and out, for up to 220 persons in modernized surroundings.
Another major central convention center is the World Trade Center Marseille Provence with direct access through the Mercure Marseille Centre Vieux-Port Hotel. Its meeting rooms and 200-room renovation was completed a few years ago.
Restaurants able to host groups include L'Epuisette, which sticks out over the water, serves excellent French cuisine, and has a huge wine cellar; upmarket bistro La Virgule, which sits opposite Notre Dame de la Garde; Une Table au Sud, a great fish restaurant with creative presentation in Vieux-Port; and for a real splurge, Petit-Nice Passedat, which is at the architecturally wonderful MuCEM, a museum chronicling the history and people of the Mediterranean and has three Michelin stars earned by the restaurant's namesake Gerald Passedat. For Algerian cuisine, try Mina Kouk, a colorful space with beautifully prepared food and a tea room.
2013’s European Capital of Culture, Marseille has attracted the best architects to become a modern and exciting city. The Old Port was entirely redesigned by the Norman Foster architectural firm. The pedestrian zone has given this fabulous site the status it deserves in Marseille’s urban setting, while adding an ultra-modern edge to a 2,600-year-old site. The Old Port also won the prestigious City Awards from London’s Royal Academy of Urban Planning.
Visitors can stroll from the Old Port to MuCEM (Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations) and witness Marseille’s metamorphosis for themselves. The J4 esplanade, which was once for travelers in transit, is now devoted to culture. It’s the home of the magnificent space that is the 17th century Fort Saint-Jean refurbished by Roland Carta and linked by the now famous bridge to MuCEM, the glass cube covered in mesh by architect Rudy Ricciotti.
The J4 esplanade is also home to the Villa Méditerranée and its funny cantilever structure, the Musée Regards de Provence, and the Voûtes de la Major, teeming with shops and restaurants under the watchful eye of the Nouvelle Major Cathedral.
Just steps away, the Terrasses du Port shopping centre with 2,600 m² of terraces and promenades overlooks the Mediterranean. All these sites are available for private hire.
The Silo, a former silo for storing grain, has been transformed into a 2,000-seater auditorium with a function room. These superb buildings, which we owe to today’s greatest architects, now stand tall together on the urban landscape.
Les Calanques National Nature Park is an XXL playground for outdoor sports and is ideal for team building and corporate activities like diving, kayaking, regattas, hikes, boat rallies and more.
When it comes to organizing seminars, conventions, and corporate events in Marseille, nothing beats the experience and expertise of the Marseille Congrès Convention Bureau team, your single contact. Over the years they have built a team of more than 80 professionals who strive to ensure each event is uniquely unforgettable.
Choose Marseille! The best city in Provence!