In a nutshell: France's main Mediterranean port – a bit of an outsider, but a lot of fun.

Don't miss: The Vieux Port, Chateau D'If, La Plaine, Les Calanques

Key matches: England v Argentina, Quarter-final 1 and Quarter-final 3

If Paris could be personified as a 19th century aristocrat in an elegant coat, and Lyon as a gourmet chef, then Marseille might well be a sailor on shore leave, looking for a spot of mischief. France's second biggest city and largest port is often seen as a different beast to its “more sophisticated” counterparts further north – and there is a modicum of truth to this. It can be a little rough at the edges; a place of comings and goings, where big boats and ferries pull into harbour on a daily basis, and the Mediterranean sun beats down hard. It lurks the best part of 500 miles from the capital – and it revels in this sense of distance.

But this also makes for a really intriguing place in which to spend a few days. You can eat well in any French city, but Marseille's location, peering south across the water towards Morocco and Algeria, means that you can find a discernible North African influence to its cuisine. Inevitably, you can dine well on seafood too, in the restaurants laced around the Vieux Port (Old Port) – the thick fish stew that is bouillabaisse originated in the city and is very much a specialty. There are plenty of bars for a drink too – particularly on Place Jean Jaures, the square colloquially known as “La Plaine”, where the evening runs on late.