Old Port of Marseille, Marseille, Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur, France

Marseille was founded as a trading port in 600 BC by Greeks from Phocaea in Asia Minor – now part of Turkey – making it the oldest town in France. To this day it still bears the proud ancient nickname La Cité phocéenne.

At the time the area was inhabited by a Celto-Ligurian people. According to a tale related by the Greek philosopher Aristotle and the Roman historian Justin, Protis, a young Greek sailor exploring the coast, landed in the bay and was promptly invited to a banquet by the local Ligurian chieftain.

The Old Port, MarseilleIt so happened that the purpose of the banquet was for Gyptis, the chieftain’s daughter, to select a mate.

She fell in love at first sight with the Greek newcomer, and they were married. Her dowry was a piece of the land where Marseille now stands.

It’s a romantic myth, but also an emblematic one. This city has a very long tradition of welcoming and assimilating immigrants and newcomers, and it continues to this day.

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