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To the south west are the hills of the 7th and 8th arrondissements, dominated by the basilica of Notre-Dame de la Garde.
Marseille's main railway station—Gare de Marseille Saint-Charles—is north of the Centre Bourse in the 1st arrondissement; it is linked by the Boulevard d'Athènes to the Canebière.
It is also the driest major city with only 512 mm (20 in) of precipitation annually, especially thanks to the Mistral, a cold, dry wind originating in the Rhône Valley that occurs mostly in winter and spring and which generally brings clear skies and sunny weather to the region.
Less frequent is the Sirocco, a hot, sand-bearing wind, coming from the Sahara Desert.
During the 16th century the city hosted a naval fleet with the combined forces of the Franco-Ottoman alliance, which threatened the ports and navies of Genoa and the Holy Roman Empire.
Marseille lost a significant portion of its population during the Great Plague of Marseille in 1720, but the population had recovered by mid century.
The city-state sided with the Roman Republic against Carthage during the Second Punic War (218-201 BC), retaining its independence and commercial empire throughout the western Mediterranean even as Rome expanded into Western Europe and North Africa.
The airport lies to the north west of the city at Marignane on the Étang de Berre.), also known in British English as Marseilles, is the second-largest city of France.The capital of the Bouches-du-Rhône department and Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region, it is located on France's south coast and had a population of 852,516 in 2012, Marseille was the most important trading centre in the region and the main commercial port of the French Republic.Further east still are the Sainte-Baume (a 1,147 m (3,763 ft) mountain ridge rising from a forest of deciduous trees), the city of Toulon and the French Riviera.To the north of Marseille, beyond the low Garlaban and Etoile mountain ranges, is the 1,011 m (3,317 ft) Mont Sainte Victoire.