Although best known for its shopping centers, this eastern Marseillais neighborhood is also home to a small historic district, a golf course and a beautiful cemetery.
At the eastern edge of Marseille lies La Valentine, a small but bustling hub that is the perfect place to shop in (relative) peace and quiet or to get out into some nature without leaving the city itself. It gets its name from Jean Valentin, a nobleman who built a fortified town here in the 15th century. Today, most visitors come for the IKEA store and cinema multiplexes, but the neighborhood has many hidden gems for those who care to look.
Start your visit in La Valentine’s small but charming Old Town, where restaurants in charming buildings are the perfect place for a croissant or some bouillabaisse. Admire the Romanesque façade of the Église de la Valentine, which is still the spiritual heart of the neighborhood. Shop until you drop at the Centre Commercial Valentine, one of Marseille’s biggest malls, where you can find all of Europe’s biggest brands away from the touristic hubbub of the downtown.
Because it is near parks and green spaces, La Valentine is also a great place to get active or watch sporting teams in action. Cheer on the local amateur soccer team at the Jouvène-Pierre-d’Acunto Stadium, where the CAM Phenix team has its home games. Get out on the greens at the Golf de Marseille Salette, the largest golf course close to Marseille, where the holes are interspersed through a beautiful Provençal garden. Or simply go on a brisk walk through the 32 acres (13 hectares) of the Nécropole des Vaudrans, the perfect spot to watch the sunrise over the Huveaune valley or the sunset behind the Marseillais skyline.
La Valentine is in the 11th arrondissement, directly to the east of Marseille’s city center and is served by two metro stations at its southern edge. Drive to its center in 25 minutes from the Marseille-St-Charles train station or in 30 minutes from the Marseille Provence airport.
Celebrate the history of the neighborhood at the 19th-century Brasserie Heineken, once home to the now-defunct Phoenix Beer and still the only large beer brewery in southern France.