Marseille Culture: how Marseille is reported in the media

Television, Radio and Newspaper Reports

This page looks at Marseille and its culture by looking at how Marseille is reported in the media. As this site is a guide in English, all of the sources are in English: The BBC (UK), The New York Times (United States), The Guardian (UK), The Independent (UK), Der Spiegel International (Germany), Deutsche Welle (Germany), The National Geographic (United States), The Wall Street Journal (United States), The Boston Globe (United States), The Washington Post (United States) and The Sydney Morning Herald (Australia).

Marseille is a big, diverse and complex city and attempting to come up with a simple definition of Marseille's culture is not an easy task. However, when you look at how Marseille and its culture is reported in the media, some common themes do emerge:

  • Marseille is not Paris ...

    Marseille defines itself by how it differs from other cites such as Paris or its near neighbour Aix-en-Provence. Marseille and the Marseillais are certainly proud of their culture, the city, their football team and their individuality.

  • Guns, Drugs and Crime ...

    Like many other ports and big cities, Marseille does have a sub-culture of guns, drugs and crime. Whether it deserves it or not, for many, Marseille's culture will always be defined by the events depicted in the film "The French Connection".

  • Marseille the Melting Pot ...

    In direct contrast to the guns, drugs and crime image, Marseille also has a reputation for racial and religious tolerance. This is most clearly illustrated in Michael Kimmelman's 2007 article about the lack of problems in Marseille during 2005, when riots erupted in 300 other cities across France.

  • A city in transformation ...

    In part, this view is a by-product of its status as 2013 European Capital of Culture. However, as a seaport, and as a crossroads between Europe and Africa, Marseille has always been subject to change. The article about the arrival of the TGV in Marseille in 2001 is a perfect example of this.



La France Maintenant (radio programme) - Prof Andrew Hussey travels from the south to the north of France. This programme acts as the basis for a newspaper article below.

The New York Times

  • France Nouveau

    Amy Wilentz looks for the authentic Marseille and finds a contrast to Paris and Aix-en-Provence.

  • 36 Hours in Marseille

    Following a similar theme to Amy Wilentz, Seth Sherwood explores a very "un-Parisian" Marseille in 36 hours.

Room for Debate

Room for Debate is a regular feature in the New York Times where "knowledgeable contributors discuss news events and other timely issues". Here the issue is Marseille and how the city, with its mix or races and religions, manages to avoid the conflict seen in other parts of the world.

  • Introduction: Islam in the Melting Pot of Marseille

    Is the Marseille model of peaceful, multicultural integration one that could be repeated elsewhere in Europe, or even be applied globally?

  • A Charmed Life May Not Last

    Jonathan Laurence, author of "The Emancipation of Europe's Muslims" asks how long the peace will last.

  • When You’re Here, You’re Marseillais

    Nacira Guénif-Souilamas of the Islamic Cultures Institute in Paris talks about the talent for adaptation and negotiation shown by the Marseillais.

  • A Unique Mix, Not a Model to Imitate

    Françoise Lorcerie of the National Centre for Scientific Research at Aix-En-Provence puts it down to the weather, the culture, the history, the music and maybe even the drug trade.

  • This City Has Reinvented Itself

    Astrid Ziebarth, senior program officer directing the immigration and integration program at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, claims that Marseille has reinvented itself.

  • Lessons for Europe, but Not Easy Ones

    Jamie Bartlett, head of the "Violence and Extremism Programme" at the Demos research group based in London, explains that it is all to do with geography.

The Guardian

  • Planet Mars

    In an article from 2001 Alix Sharkey explains how the (then) new TGV line changed Marseille.

  • A blend of the exotic and earthy

    An article from 2005 by Tom Templeton that portrays Marseille as the antidote to Paris: laid-back, vibrant and a little bit edgy.

The Independent

  • 48 Hours in Marseille

    A travel article by Chris Leadbeater claiming that Marseille is a perfect autumn escape - a mixture of Gallic cool and North African exoticism.

Der Spiegel International

Deutsche Welle

  • A radical facelift for Marseille

    Ursula Duplantier writes on the challeges that face Marseille and the Marseillais as the city prepares for it's year as Euopean Capital of Culture in 2013.

The National Geographic

  • Marseille's Melting Pot

    Christopher Dickey and Ed Kashi paint a picture of Marseille as a multicultural city of the future. Additional comments on this piece by photographer Ed Kashi can be found here.

The Wall Street Journal

The Sydney Morning Herald

The Boston Globe

The Washington Post