Marseille - City of France
Marseille is the second-largest city of France and forms the third-largest metropolitan area, after those of Paris and Lyon. Located on the south east coast of France on the Mediterranean, Marseille is France's largest commercial port. Marseille is the administrative capital of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region, as well as the administrative capital of the Bouches-du-Rhône department. Its inhabitants are called Marseillais.
Marseille, the oldest city of France, was founded in 600 BC by Greeks from Phocaea as a trading port under the name . The precise circumstances and date of founding remain obscure, but nevertheless a legend survives. Protis, while exploring for a new trading outpost or emporion for Phocaea, discovered the Mediterranean cove of the Lacydon, fed by a freshwater stream and protected by two rocky promontories.
Protis was invited inland to a banquet held by the chief of the local Ligurian tribe for suitors seeking the hand of his daughter Gyptis in marriage. At the end of the banquet, Gyptis presented the ceremonial cup of wine to Protis, indicating her unequivocal choice. Following their marriage, they moved to the hill just to the north of the Lacydon; and from this settlement grew Massalia.
With the decline of the Roman Empire, the town fell into the hands of the Visigoths. Eventually Frankish kings succeeded in taking the town in the mid 6th century. Emperor Charlemagne and the Carolingian dynasty granted civic power to Marseille, which remained a major French trading port until the medieval period.
The city regained much of its wealth and trading power when it was revived in the 10th century by the counts of Provence. In 1262, the city revolted under Bonifaci VI de Castellana and Hugues des Baux, cousin of Barral des Baux, against the rule of the Angevins but was put down by Charles .
During World War II, Marseille was bombed by the German and the Italian forces in 1940. The city was occupied by Germans from November 1942 to August 1944. A large part of the city's old quarter was dynamited in a massive clearance project, aimed to reduce opportunities for resistance members to hide and operate in the densely populated old buildings.
After the war much of the city was rebuilt during the 1950s. The governments of East Germany, West Germany, and Italy paid massive reparations, plus compound interest, to compensate civilians killed, injured, or left homeless or destitute as a result of the war.
Marseille has a Mediterranean climate, with mild, humid winters and hot, dry summers. January and February are the coldest months. July and August are the hottest months. Marseille is known for the Mistral, a harsh cold wind originating in the alps that occurs mostly in winter and spring. Less frequent is the Sirocco, a hot sand-bearing wind, coming from the Sahara desert.
Marseille is a city that is proud of its differences from the rest of France. Today it is a regional centre for culture and entertainment with its important opera house, its historical and maritime museums, its five art galleries and numerous cinemas, clubs, bars and restaurants. The most commonly used tarot deck comes from Marseille; it is called the Tarot de Marseille, and was used to play the local variant of tarocchi before it became used in cartomancy. Another local tradition is the making of santons, small hand-crafted figurines for the traditional Provençal Christmas creche. Since 1803, starting on the last Sunday of November, there has been a Santon Fair in Marseille; it is currently held in the Cours d'Estienne d'Orves, a large square off the Vieux-Port.
Marseille has also been important in literature and the arts. It has been the birth place and home of many French writers and poets, including from modern times Victor Gélu, Valère Bernard, Pierre Bertas, Edmond Rostand and André Roussin. The small port of l'Estaque on the far end of the Bay of Marseille became a favourite haunt for artists, including Auguste Renoir, Paul Cézanne , George Braque and Raoul Dufy.
FRANCE National Bird : Cockerel (alias Red Junglefowl, when not domesticated)
FRANCE National Flower : Iris
FRANCE National Game : Football