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Secrets of France’s other Olympic city

On May 8, the Olympic Torch for the Paris 2024 Games will arrive from Greece by boat into the ancient port of France’s second-largest city, Marseille – much as the first Greek settlers arrived to found the town almost three millennia ago.

It should be a warm, sunny day, since Marseille famously gets more sun than anywhere else in France. And this is the city’s time to shine: not only is Marseille the launchpad for the 80-day Torch Relay, culminating in Paris on July 26; it is also a significant Olympic venue in its own right.

Marseille will host the sailing competition off its spectacularly rugged coastline, and also 10 soccer matches in the local team’s vaulting 65,000-seat stadium – including France’s own opening game.

So while Paris hogs the limelight and hosts the big shindig, Marseille will be holding a little beach party all of its own. For anyone looking for some festive Olympic vibe but with a more languorous, Mediterranean-summer feel, you can find it just a 3½-hour high-speed train ride from the Parisian center stage. – Full report

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