I’ll be posting more about my recent France adventure but wanted to start off with a few words about Marseille. Aside from it being a very cool place to visit with amazing history, food and culture, it’s also the home to one of my favorite hotels in the world. The InterContinental Marseille Hotel Dieu just gets everything right. It was created from an 18th century building that was formerly the city’s hospital and before that, an inn that housed religious pilgrims. It’s in a perfect location, perched on a hill overlooking the old port, service is seriously amazing and the food is some of the best in France.
After first visiting in 2014, I was excited to return to Marseille and again stay at the Hotel Dieu. My room was one of the hotel’s Executive Terrace Rooms, on the seventh floor, almost perfectly in the center of the building. The rooms on this side have a postcard view of the Vieux-Port (old port) and the Notre Dame de la Garde cathedral on the hill beyond the port. The rooms, while not huge, make excellent use of the space with stylish built-in cabinetry and a spa-like bathroom.
The luxury hotel opened in 2013 to great fanfare, the first five-star luxury hotel in the city. The opening coincided with Marseille being designated the European City of Culture for 2013 and it has drawn luxury travelers from all over the world. The celebration also brought the opening of MuCEM (the Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilizations), the city’s very cool cultural history museum. The city itself is fascinating, offering what I think is a more authentic French experience than Paris. Marseille is France’s second largest city, and is older than Paris. I learned all about the city’s history during my visit to the Musuem of the History of Marseille.
Marseille is a foodie city and the hotel has some of the best food in France. All the food at the hotel is overseen by Chef Lionel Levy. This now legendary French chef, who is considered the modern leader of what is now called the Marseille style of cooking. Fresh ingredients, heavy on the seafood, with a strong Mediterranean influence from both Africa and Italy. Before taking on the food and restaurants of the Hotel Dieu, Chef Levy had Un Table Au Sud, his own hugely popular, Michelin-starred restaurant. While there, I enjoyed some of the hotel’s amazing food, especially room service breakfasts and dinners at Les Fenetres, the in-house brasserie.
Getting to Marseille was quite easy, I used Rail Europe to get my TGV train tickets. It’s an comfortable three-hour journey from Paris via France’s high-speed TGV rail network. Rail Europe is the official US representative for France (and most other European countries’) rail services and their website allows easy point-to-point booking within France or even between seveal different countries. They also sell those legendary rail passes. The tickets or passes are sent to you in advance, before your trip, so they’re in-hand when you arrive in Europe. I wrote another post about the mechanics of my trip and there’s more information about my train trips in that post.