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Marseille Office Space Guide

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A guide to serviced offices and office space to rent in Marseille as well as general information that may be useful if you are thinking of renting office space in Marseille.

History & Geography

Few cities can have as beautiful a setting as Marseille. France’s second largest city is located on the Mediterranean among the rugged fjords of the Calanques, overlooked by the Garlaban and Etoile mountain ranges. During the summers it basks in heat of up to 30 degrees and in winter the mercury never dips below zero. This may explain why the area has been inhabited for over 30,000 years. The city itself was founded by the Greeks in 600 BC as a trading port dubbed Massallia. Massallia was eventually assimilated into the Roman Empire and became an important and prosperous trading hub. After the decline and fall of the Roman Empire, the city fell under the sway of the Visigoths, and finally the Franks. During the Middle Ages, the wealth and power of Marseille grew significantly and the city expanded. In the 15th century the Duke of Anjou heavily fortified the city, building a series of ramparts to guard the harbour. During the 17th century Marseille, which has always had a reputation for independence, rebelled against the local governor and order had to be restored by King Louis XIV himself. After this, the Forts of St Jean and St Nicholas were built and a large garrison stationed in the city. In 1720 the Great Plague of Marseille killed over 100,000 people in the city and surrounding area. However, despite this, the port continued to be France’s most important military bastion in the Mediterranean. Marseille enthusiastically embraced the French Revolution and sent volunteers to Paris in support of it. The song they sang on the way, the Marseillaise, became France’s national anthem. During the 19th century, Marseille benefited from trade with France’s empire and the city modernized and manufacturing was developed in the nearby area. During WWII Marseille was heavily bombed by the Germans and by the Allies in their preparation for the invasion of France. Germany paid massive reparations after the war to help rebuild the city. From the 1950s onward Marseilles served as the port of entry for millions of immigrants to France, primarily from North Africa. Today it is one of the most cosmopolitan and varied cities in Europe.


Marseille has always been the world’s gateway into France and as a result, the city has become a melting pot in the truest sense of the term. A massive wave of Greek and Italian immigrants settled in Marseille in the late 19th century and currently over a third of the city can trace their routes back to Italy. The 20th century saw Russians, Armenians, Corsicans, Spanish and North African immigrants all settle in the city. After Algeria became independent floods of so-called pieds-noir, former French settlers in Algeria, come to the city. Today the largest segment of immigrants in the city are from Algeria, followed by the Comoros.


Historically Marseille’s economy revolved around its port, which was the connection between France and its empire, specifically the colonies, of Algiers, Morocco, and Tunisia. The Old Port stopped being used and was replaced by the New Port, north of the Old Port. The Old Port has now been redeveloped and now contains restaurants, offices, bars and hotels. Marseille’s New Port is one of the busiest in Europe and over 100 million tons of freight pass through it every year. The fishing industry is also a staple of Marseille’s economy and a daily fish market is still held in the Old Port. Shipbuilding and petroleum refining also play an important part, with petroleum making up the bulk of the freight passing through Marseille. Other industries present are the chemical, soap, glass, sugar, and textile industries. Recently the service sector has grown in Marseille as well as the tech industry. The city also functions as France’s entertainment centre and is home to a high concentration of cinemas, clubs, bars, museums and theatres, all directed at the city’s tourist economy. Recently the financial magazine L’Expansion named Marseille as France’s most dynamic city.


As France’s second city Marseille has a large tourism industry. It is set on the Mediterranean coast and mild weather has also certainly not hurt its popularity among tourists from the rest of France, Europe and the world. The city has a plethora of sites, including the Old Port, with its glut of restaurants and cafes, the Abbey of St. Victor, one of oldest places of Christian worship in Europe, and the Hotel de Ville, the town hall dating from the 17th century. Most of Marseille’s best sites are to be found in the 1st, 2nd, 6th and 7th arrondissements. Of course, like most French cities Marseille has its own distinctive cuisine, much of it fish-based. Bouillabaisse, a fish stew, is the most popular and well-known dish, as well as Bourride, a dish made with monkfish. Pastis, an alcoholic beverage made with aniseed and spice is also very ubiquitous in the region, as well as Fougasse, a typical bread from Provencal.


Marseille is served by the Marseille Provence Airport in Marignane on the outskirts of the city. Recently a new terminal was constructed specifically serving low-cost flights to Europe and Africa. Gare de Marseille Saint-Charles is the main railway station of the city and has direct services to most major French cities. It is also one of the main terminal stations for France’s high-speed train the TGV. The city itself has an extensive bus network as well as a metro. Recently it has introduced a bike hire system nicknamed ‘Le Velo’.

Office space to rent in Marseille

Despite the economic crisis, there has been a rise in activity in the last year or so in the office market in Marseille. Both take up and transactional activity have risen significantly. Marseille has an overall supply of approximately 150,000 square metres and the current prime rent is approximately EUR 250 per square metre per year.




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