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Marseille--how bad is it really?

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We've traveled to over 180 places in Europe and always steered clear of Marseille. Now DH wants to go there in February and spend several days--like maybe 6 or so. When I search Marseille here, I get a lot of negative feedback (hence why we've never considered it before) but mostly just "don't stay there", not WHY not to stay/go there--is it all fear of crime, is there no redeeming value in the shabbiness?, etc. Most posts even mentioning Marseille do so as the start or end of a road trip, not an actual stop for sightseeing.

What I'm hoping to find here is someone(s) who has actually been there and spent some time, not just driven through, preferrably in February or March who can give some first hand comments. Questions I'm hoping to get answered are:
Should we consider it at all for a longish stay? Like 5 or 6 nights?
If not, would 2 or 3 be the right amount of time--if we combine with time in surrounding Provence areas that I know we like.
Is Feb/March a reasonable time to go there? Would April/May significantly improve our chances of enjoying the place?

Thanks for any light you can shed on this.

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