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Le Panier Neighborhood is a major attraction the oldest district of Marseille. You can't visit Marseille without visiting Le Panier. This district comprises a maze of stairways and steep streets lined with tall, brightly colored houses which give it a real Mediterranean feel. Le Penier Neighborhood is located just behind the old port and bordering the district of Joliette. There isn't one big attraction to see here, but the winding roads and old buildings are lovely.
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The old and tall houses of Le Panier tell stories of ancient Greeks, who settled here around 600BC, making for a unique place to spend a holiday. Being in Le Panier is like being in an authentic charming village of Provence while forgetting to be in the crowded city center of Marseille. This village is always alive with its inhabitants coming from various waves of immigration. The typical old façades are colored and the streets are full of flowers. Le Panier is also an excellent area for shopping for crafts and local designer goods and browsing artists' galleries. Le Panier is home to the Centre de la Vieille Charité, which today houses museums and hosts special exhibitions. It was built in the 175h century to serve beggars and indigents, then later became a center for needy children and the elderly. While you're in the Panier district, you might want to take a look at the Cathédrale de la Major, which is just outside the district and easily accessible on foot. You will easily find a lot of things to do at Le Panier Neighborhood.
Cathedrale de la Major is the only cathedral built in France in the 19th century, with impressive dimension capable of welcoming up to 3000 people. The cathedral is also known as Sainte-Marie-Majeure de Marseille Cathedral and it is towering over La Joliette wharves. The cathedral is the largest of its kind ever built since the Middle Ages. Today, the cathedral stands as a landmark of great historical, cultural and religious significance on both a local and national level. The interior is equally full of mosaics, Byzantine arches, huge statues, in a completely assumed style. Visiting this cathedral is one of the best things to do at Le Panier Neighborhood.
Another thing to do at Le Panier Neighborhood is to visit La Canebiere. La Canebiere is a vibrant boulevard that buzzes with youth and life day and night. You cannot leave Le Panier without walking here at least. All the major hotels are located here and you can find the Opera House as well. The boulevard is today full with kebab shops and budget stores.
The Vieille Charité is the jewel of the Old Town. It was designed by the great Marseille painter / sculptor / architect Pierre Paul Pugetand the house where he was born still stands here, marked with a plaque, across the street just a couple of meters from his masterpiece. Today the Vieille Charité houses a cultural centre, research units, and museums and galleries containing permanent collections of African, Oceanian and Amerindian art and Mediterranean archaeology, as well as temporary exhibitions. It also has a very good art book shop, a library, café and even a small cinema. Taking a little tour here is mandatory.
How to Get Tickets?
Le Panier is a real neighborhood where the locals actually live in and do activities. You don't need to purchase any tickets since the admission to do a tour in this area is free. Just take a day tour and enjoy the things to do at Le Panier Neighborhood as long as you want.
How To Get Around?
The best way to explore Le Panier is on foot. Be warned though, Le Panier is very hilly and could be tricky for anyone with restricted mobility. The alternative is the petit train or little tourist train, which you can pick up on the Old Port. It gives you a tour past all the main sights and stops at the most important attraction, the Vieille Charite.
What Should I Wear?
As mentioned above, Le Panier is very hilly so if you plan on walking make sure you wear comfortable shoes. Most people wear comfortable clothing, it depends on the weather. A t-shirt and a pair of jeans should be good, maybe even sunglasses since you'll be spending your time outdoor most of the time.
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Will I Need a Guide?
No, it's easy to get around by yourself. A self-guided walking tour is indicated by enameled lava plaques set in the ground but it's more enjoyable simply to stroll around for an hour or two. There's something interesting to see on almost every street. If you take the petit train, it has a recorded commentary in English that explains about the Panier's main sights.
How To Get There?
Le Panier is a short walk from the Old Port of Marseille. If you come from Saint Charles Station, take the metro line one and stop at Colbert, from there it is a short walk. You can also catch the petit train for on the Quai du Port for a guided tour. It goes past all the main sights and stops at the most important one, the Vieille Charite. You can get off here for a visit and pick up a later train to continue your journey. Large parts of the Panier are closed to road traffic from late morning on-wards.