Perhaps only Naples equates to this one-club Mediterranean madhouse of a city, united in its passion for l’OM.
The Stade Velodrome, a quick and easy metro journey from the centre, is packed to its 60,000 capacity nearly every home game, the atmosphere more akin to the noise and colour of Italy or Spain than anywhere else in France.
For tickets, try www.om.net or the desk at the themed OM Café at 3 quai des Belges by the Old Port.
The lively port of Marseille is France’s football hotbed. Its mixed community worships flagship club Olympique Marseille as one.
Eric Cantona and Zinedine Zidane kicked their first footballs around its streets when Marseille wasn’t the moneyed metropolis it is now.
A three-hour fast-train link with Paris, rapid property development and gentrification around the Old Port have transformed the gritty melting pot of Zidane’s childhood, whAen vast housing estates were built to cope with the post-war influx of French colonials and North Africans.
Climb to Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde, the gold-topped basilica perched over the sea with a spectacular view of Marseille and the Med beyond.
Try Pastis, the French Riviera’s unofficial official tipple. Marseille’s local favourite is Pastis 51. It’s 40-45% proof, though, so mix with water.
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