It’s surely no coincidence that Marseille rhymes with ‘soleil’, for the sun shines hot in this southern French port city.  Its French, Provençal and a global cultural melting-pot, all at once.  It mixes the beauty of picturesque harbour, surrounding hills and a stunning coastline with a certain grit.  Not for nothing is it the setting for the crime fiction novels known collectively as Marseille Noir.

Here you can sense more than two millennia of vibrant culture.  Greeks founded the city in 600 BC, traders left Marseille for the Levant in the Middle Ages and for the French colonies in the 19th century.  In 2013 it was Europe’s Capital of Culture.  Visit Marseille for Mediterranean bouillabaisse or North African couscous, for street art or for fine art.  It’s all here! 

Our 10 Marseille episodes will bring you all the background history and culture you need to really understand the city.  In short, here is all the research you’d do yourself if only you had the time!  

Marseille is our current our current series and will run until October 2024.  A new episode will come out on the first Thursday of each month.



Episode 1: Introduction to Marseille

Bienvenue à Marseille: welcome to Marseille. This introduction to Marseille brings you information to help you get your bearings and pick up the basic facts which underpin everything. Handy! See below for reading ideas and … Read more
Marseille Town Hall / Louis XIV

Episode 2: 10 Places to Find History in Marseille

There are 26 centuries of history in Marseille, which is the oldest city in France! For starters, here are 10 places where you can find a little of the past. They range from the plaque … Read more

Marseille: links and reading

Three useful websites for tourists
Marseille Tourist Office
About France: a short guide to Marseille

3 Guide Books
The Rough Guide to Provence and the Cote d’Azur
Marseille Travel Guide by Angela J Rea
Marseille Travel Guide by Betty Vanslyke

4 books on Marseille Culture
The Wicked City The many cultures of Marseille by Nicholas Hewitt
Garlic, Mint and Sweet Basil by Jean-Claude Izzo
Unveiling Marseille Your Insider’s Guide to the Multicultural Marvel by Tailored Travel Guides
Taste the World in Marseille by Vérane Frédiani

Marcel Pagnol wrote a trilogy of plays set in Marseille: Marius, Fanny and César. All three were also filmed.
Try eBay or other second-hand sites to track them down.

Pagnol’s two books of childhood memoirs centre on the Provençal countryside just a few miles outside Marseille.
Memoirs of a Provence Childhood by Marcel Pagnol
This comprises 2 autobiographical novels in one volume: My Father’s Glory and My Mother’s Castle

Marseille Noir
This is the collective name for gritty crime fiction set in Marseille. The best-known examples are the Jean-Claude Izzo trilogy
Total Chaos by Jean-Claude Izzo
Chourmo by Jean-Claude Izzo
Solea by Jean-Claude Izzo

The First Fingerprint by Xavier-Marie Bonnot
Marseille Noir by Cédric Fabre

More Fiction set in Marseille
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
The Marseille Caper by Peter Mayle

PODCASTS to get you started

Marseille episodes coming soon