With 100m tonnes of freight passing through the port each year, and close proximity to France's former colonies in North Africa, the city has always been a melting pot of different cultures. France's oldest city can be traced back to Greek sailors colonising the area in 600BC, bringing with them trade that provided the Mediterranean port with wealth but also ruin.
Twice Marseille was the entry point for plague in Europe, most recently in 1720 when half the local population died. With disease and war commonplace the citizens were renowned for their robust character, highlighted by their creation one of France's proudest and most iconic symbols. As soldiers from the city marched to Paris during the French Revolution they sang La Marseillaise.
UEFA capacity: 65,000
Record attendance: 59,120
Tenants: Olympique de Marseille
Opened: June 1937
• As its name suggests, the Stade Vélodrome possessed a cycling track when it first opened in 1937, though the new venue's opening ceremony was capped by a football match between Marseille and Italian side Torino FC.
• The stadium has also hosted sports as varied as athletics, rugby, boxing, tennis, hockey and even motorsports, though its days as an all-purpose arena ended when the cycling track was finally removed in 1985.
• The Vélodrome staged matches at the 1938 and 1998 FIFA World Cups, with its capacity increased to 60,000 for the latter tournament; it also hosted games at the 1960 and 1984 UEFA European Championships.
• Located in the south of the city, on the north bank of the Huveaune river, the Vélodrome has regularly been used as a concert venue since the 1980s and has also hosted political rallies.
• Famously open to the elements in the past, the stadium will feature a roof upon completion of the renovation work which began in 2011 at an estimated cost of €267m.