An exhibit from the Motorcycle Museum, MarseilleSome 250 motorbikes are on show in this educational and enjoyable museum dedicated to the art of speed, from 19th century prototypes to futuristic racing machines. logoClick here to book a hotel in Marseille

At the start of the tour, children aged between seven and twelve are given a picture book explaining the evolution of the motorbike and suggesting games to play during their visit, including the "Mission Fantomard", a hunt for the "ghost bikes" supposedly haunting the museum.

The show is not just for boys: small girls will find an excellent role model in the shape of Monica Vaga, the only woman to have ridden around the world on a 125cc motorcycle.

When she arrived back in Marseille in 2001, after having spent 444 days on the road and driven through 53 countries, she left her trusty steed to the museum upon condition that it be left untouched.

The museum aims to spotlight road safety. And, located in Marseille's working-class northern suburbs, it also has a mission to train local youngsters in road safety and motorcycle maintenance.

Some of the vehicles were retrieved as wrecks and restored in the museum repair shop (if it's open, you can watch the apprentices at work). Almost all of them are now in working order.

Housed in a renovated flour mill, the museum has four floors each devoted to a different period.

Nougier racing bikes at the Motorcycle Museum, MarseilleAmong the star exhibits are an experimental 1935 four cylinder MGC, equipped with an aeroplane engine, and a unique collection of Grand Prix racing bikes built by Jean and Henri Nougier between 1936 and 1971: some of them are pictured.

You'll also see military motorcycles from the Second World War, Moto Guzzis, a Triumph T120 Bonneville, a Magnat Debon, Gnome et Rhône and San Sou Pap.

There is a small admission charge but entry is free for children under 12. The museum's Director, François Sassu, speaks English and will show you around if you telephone in advance. Open 10am to 5pm. Closed Sundays, Mondays and public holidays.

Where: Le Musée de la Moto, 18 traverse Saint Paul, 13013 Marseille. Tel: (+33) 4 91 55 48 43. Website for the Musée de la Moto

How to get there: Bus 32, 32b or 38.


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