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In seventh heaven with Marseille
Marseille is an ideal destination for your future corporate event. Firstly, because July and August are low season months for corporate groups in Marseille, and secondly, your dream of Provence, inspired by Peter Mayle's novels, can finally come true!
Our partners had spent more than two months working out the details of the program, which would demonstrate Marseille's unique ability to host corporate events and, while choosing the destination, tilt the scales in favour of the most ancient city in France.
The building of the InterContinental Marseille Hotel-Dieu rises above the city and the Old Port from the mid-18th century, challenging with its successful location an absolute city dominant across the street – the cathedral Notre-Dame de la Garde. That is why, we choose the rooms with stone balconies – they guarantee the best view of Marseille.
The hotel was opened in 2013 and is one of the largest hotels in Marseille (194 rooms). Jean Philippe Nuel was able to integrate the cutting-edge interior design (the lobby is so stunning that you are always looking for a reason to stay in it for another half an hour) into the pompous Second Empire architecture of the building.
Breakfast at the hotel has long become canonical – don't forget to sample ham and truffle and start your day like Churchill with a glass of champagne. One of the city's main energy arteries runs through the hotel bar – it is always hard to find an empty seat here!
Notre-Dame de la Garde was built in 11 years and opened in 1864 during the reign of Napoleon III, having broken many records in cathedral construction of that time. The heaviest bell (weighing as much as 8 tons), more than 1000 ex-votos (gifts in fulfillment of a vow), decorating the interior of the cathedral, the famous more than 11 meters high golden statue of the Virgin Mary with the Child in her arms, and, of course, the unrivalled breathtaking view over the whole city and port opening from here. Few people know that the Virgin Mary statue was cast in the famous workshops of Christofle, which are even today responsible for any restoration works.
Any direction requires intrigue, a story that is easy to transfer into one of the activities of the program or into the concept of the whole project. Who among us has not read and re-read the "Count of Monte Christo"! There is no need to retell the romantic story of love and fabulous success, but we should bear in mind that even today one of the most difficult and spectacular swimming events occurs here, when competitors repeat what the hero of Alexandre Dumas had once done and what is called Le Défi de Monte-Cristo. You can become a spectator and also embrace the idea to draw on it in your own program.
It is necessary to learn how to cook and try bouillabaisse only in Marseille. This legendary dish dates back to the Ancient Greeks and has a wide variety of cooking recommendations, but it might be easier to stick to the famous Fernandel song, which quotes the recipe – "lobster, monkfish, crustaceans, 12 scorpion fish, small sunfish, olive oil, saffron, garlic and fennel". We were preparing bouillabaisse in a private apartment located right in the Old Port with a magnificent view of the yachts and the marina.
Under the guidance of Chef Eric, the follower of the "haute cuisine" of Auguste Escoffier (!), we were cooking bouillabaisse and learning French by names of the fish. And, as the saying goes, bouillabaisse is food by itself, meaning that first we eat the broth and then move on to the fish… Apart from pastis you sample during the long cooking process and a glass of white wine at time of tasting session, you won't be needing anything but the view of the Old Port!
The Old Port is the heart of the city and the place you are always anxious to get to when in Marseille. The reasons can be many: whether it is the fish market under the mirror roof by Norman Foster, or dinner at the port restaurant, where they, of course, serve bouillabaisse, or love for post-war architecture, in which the great Le Corbusier had to give in to Auguste Perret and Fernand Pouillon.
We went to Casa Delauze or the "stilt house", which now belongs to the granddaughter of the famous «Wreck Finder» Henri-Germain Delauze, the founder of the French diving company COMEX (deep-sea research and marine expertise), friend of Jacques Yves Cousteau. It was he who discovered Saint-Exupéry's plane. Today "stilt house", located in the Old Port next to dozens of yachts right in the marina is a unique venue for cocktails, gala dinners and various activities. It is not only a private house, but a real museum full of artifacts, which were discovered during numerous underwater expeditions and dives of the owner of the house.
Marseille is not only a city, a port, but a coastline of more than 42 kilometers. We are going to the Blue Coast with its many beaches, ancient viaducts and luxurious villas. One of them is Fortin de Corbières – not just a modern art gallery, but also a unique platform that can accommodate up to 500 people for an evening cocktail, not to mention banquets. There is a garden with orange trees, an infinity swimming pool and a divine view of the bay.
Petanque, or ball throwing, is a national Provencal game, therefore it is better to learn it in Marseille. The game dates back not just to the Middle Ages, but further to the Ancient Greece and Rome. Although it was forbidden, for instance in the 14th century, it has survived to this day and is probably the most common game in France and particularly in Marseille. You will find specially designated petanque playgrounds in almost every town square and park. Coming to the game with your own petanque balls – isn't it an indicator of your professionalism and serious attitude to your pastime? And you will also find out what a "cochonnet" or "faire Fanny" means at the first master class.
We haven't even mentioned the calanques, the trip to Cassis, olive oil tastings, our walks in the Panier or the famous Marseille soap, but something should be left out so that you might make your own discovery.