Marseille - OK to ride through?

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MarkW
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Joined: 2 Mar 2007, 2:23pm

Marseille - OK to ride through?

Post by MarkW »

I'm going to be cycle camping between Cannes and Montpellier shortly, collecting BCNs /BPFs en route which will take me from Cassis to Martigues. The obvious route between the two is straight through Marseille. I'm not worried about cycling through cities but I've not heard anything good about Marseille: gangs, theft, appalling driving etc. Anyone any experience or knowledge to pass on? I'd be very grateful. I can easily get a train from Cassis to Martigues, changing at Marseille and avoid the hassle, but being the person I am, I'm reluctant to do this unless prudence seems a better course.

Thanks in anticipation

Mark W
geocycle
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Re: Marseille - OK to ride through?

Post by geocycle »

I lived down there for a while. I'd not be concerned about the centre just be careful in the suburbs at night. The traffic might be more of a challenge!
psmiffy
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Re: Marseille - OK to ride through?

Post by psmiffy »

nearly all non-Marseille french people i've talked to when i've mentioned i'm going though marseille have warned me that Marseille is a centre of iniquity - however having cycled through on three occasions I've never observed anything untoward - and the traffic is no worse or no better than a lot of other big cities i've been to - the only drawback to the place is the lack of a convenient campsite
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speedsixdave
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Re: Marseille - OK to ride through?

Post by speedsixdave »

I cycled through about ten years ago and similarly had heard nothing but bad about the place. It was, completely unsurprisingly really, just like most other cities. Some lovely bits around the harbour. I guess a good comparison might be Liverpool - something of a reputation which is probably quite justified if you flash your cash in Toxteth* at pub closing, but entirely civilised in the centre during the day.

*Apologies to anyone from Toxteth
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MarkW
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Re: Marseille - OK to ride through?

Post by MarkW »

Thanks, everybody, for your replies which have been really helpful. I'm off tomorrow so I'll let you know how the place was for me when I get back.

Mark W
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Audax67
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Re: Marseille - OK to ride through?

Post by Audax67 »

There's a high murder rate in Marseille this year, mostly drug-dealers settling arguments. See:

http://provence-alpes.france3.fr/2013/0 ... 48811.html

You're probably OK on the main thoroughfares. After all, lots of people live there without getting killed.
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jam_har
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Re: Marseille - OK to ride through?

Post by jam_har »

Agree with comments already made, I lived down there for a year and the centre is busy but manageable as long as you keep your wits about you. You do have to be a bit careful of theft/aggressive teenagers so avoid the burbs. The Callanques to the east of Marseille are beautiful, going to be a great ride!
lookoutmountain
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Re: Marseille - OK to ride through?

Post by lookoutmountain »

Marseille is in my experience fine to ride through. There's decent cycle provision with good bike lanes on the main routes in, a lot better than some French cities namely Montelimar. If you have any mechanical problems, try Velos en Ville (http://www.velosenville.org/) a very helpful bike workshop with a huge range of used spares where you can fix stuff yourself on the cheap. Cycling from Marseille into the Camargue can be a bit painful, busy truck roads feeding the refinaries and quite exposed, difficult when windy and it was very windy.
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MarkW
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Re: Marseille - OK to ride through?

Post by MarkW »

Thanks to everyone for their advice about Marseille. I rode through last Thursday, swooping into the city from the Col de Genestre to the east. It was dead straightforward and I just stuck to the one road which went right through the centre. However I veered off line to see the Vieux Port and then wove through the more complicated (and down-at-heel) west side of the city following signs to l'Estaque, which worked. I encountered one relatively scary dual carriageway but frankly it wasn't that busy and it didn't last long.

I fully agree with 'lookoutmountain' and his comments about big roads and endless juggernauts which lasted almost all the way to Port Louis. Not a particularly worthwhile area to see but when you're collecting BPF checkpoints and have to go to Martigues and then the Stes Maries de la Mer, you don't have a lot of choice! I had intended to go north to Salon and Arles but the Mistral blew like crazy all week so the less I had to head north the better! Those places can wait until another visit!

Cheers, all

Mark
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