Arles (13), France
2 rooms • 4 pers. max.
With 28,000 years of existence, Marseilles is perhaps one of France’s oldest gay meccas. A spirit of adventure fills the air no matter where you look. From breakfast on your balcony in the warm Mediterranean sunshine, where you may glimpse barechested sailors repairing their fishnets; to the coastal route leading out of town towards the Calanques, with its never-ending parade of scantily clad bathers, cyclists and joggers; to a traditional fish soup (bouillabaisse) at the Old Port (Le Vieux Port), as you witness a fisherman carrying a bulging basket of freshly caught fish straight through the restaurant to the chef.
Don’t miss the New Cancan and la Mare au Diable dance clubs. The New Cancan is more of a techno crowd, whereas the Mare au Diable caters for a wider variety of music lovers. It also features drag shows and has a lovely moonlit garden for that special tête-àtête. Local bars include Enigme and the MP Bar. Lesbians should head to Le Bistro Vénitien in the artsy Cours Julien district. You will enjoy your stay at the new Sofitel Palm Beach on the waterfront with spectacular Mediterranean views.
As the capital of soap-making and the home of the world-famous santons (Christmas crib figures representing well-known figures in Provencal life).
Marseille holds festivals all year round, such as the boat-shaped biscuits known as navettes eaten at Candlemas, the Carnival, the Garlic fair, the feast of Saint-Eloi, waterjousting at l'Esaque, the Kite-flying Festival and the Santon fair.
The Calanques are the steep, narrow inlets where creeks join the sea. The GR 98 runs from La Madrague, on the peninsula (8 km) south of the city center. Two loop-hikes circle the rocky Massif de Marseilleveyre on the peninsula. From the eastern end, the GR 98 follows the rocky coastline past the deep calanques to Cassis (about 25 km by trail from La Madrague). The GR 98 continues northeast to the Ste Baume.
From the Château-Gombert on the north edge of the city (metro-1), there is a loop-hike onto the Chaine de l'Etoile hills. From this trail, other trails continue on and branch out through the hills to the northeast of the city