Before arriving in Marseille, I envisioned the clichéd views of a city steeped in bouillabaisse, pétanque and plenty of Pastis. And I was partly right, but quick to discover that Marseille is a city that doesn’t rest on its laurels or tradition. It’s constantly on the move, modernizing both old and new quarters and buildings, taking the role of 2013 European Capital of Culture to heart, proving that it can offer more than just sunny terraces and seaside views when it comes to meetings.
Report Lane Nieset
People in Marseille are proud of their city, and they have plenty of reasons to be. The second largest city in France, Marseille is lined with 57 kilometers of coast that leads into the Calanques National Park, a rarity to have such a site sitting so close to a city of almost a million.
What’s Old is New Again
Step off the port and into the Panier and the scene changes entirely, as you’re transported back 2,600 years in time strolling the streets of Europe’s oldest village. While natural beauty and the history of the Phoenician City are certainly draws for planners, what’s really making waves across the continent is the change that’s been underway in the past few years as over 660 million Euros has been invested in Marseille to position it as a thriving metropolis on par with Europe’s booming capitals.
As Maxime Tissot, Marseille Events & Convention Bureau’s general manager, puts it: ‘Marseille is positioning itself as a city ready for a challenge that always wants to compete, be ahead and win. For 10 years now, the Marseille Convention Bureau has been working hand-in-hand with its partners to promote the destination and ensure that each event is unique and unforgettable.’
Marseille has brought in some of the best names in the biz to spruce up its landmarks, choosing high-profile British architect Norman Foster to pedestrianize the Vieux Port. From there, you can stroll to the MuCEM, linked by a super-modern footbridge to the 17th century Fort Saint-Jean, brought back to life by local architect Roland Carta, the man behind the renovations at the Silo, a one-time grain storage facility that’s now a premier event venue with an Italian theatre seating up to 1,700.
Designer Business District
As the city gears up to host this summer’s European Football Championship and will hold the title next year as European Capital of Sports, Marseille is positioning itself as an attractive place for both sports and events. In 2014, the city hosted 563 events (almost double the number in just a decade), coming in second in France after Paris in the ICCA ranking. Investors are taking notice and infrastructure is at an all-time high as Marseille is underway developing its new business hub, the Euroméditerranée district, which will act as a “city within a city” once it’s complete. One of the largest urban developments in southern Europe, the 480-hectare zone will feature the city’s new skyline dominated by skyscrapers designed by architecture royalty like Jean Nouvel, Yves Lion and Zaha Hadid.
Corinne Fréani -
T. + 33 (0) 91 13 89 02
Supported by the Union of International Associations (UIA), the International Association of Professional Congress Organisers (IAPCO) and the Interel Group, the global public affairs and association management consultancy, Headquarters Magazines serve the needs of international associations organising worldwide congresses.