It is a great honour for us that Marseille has been chosen by the ESTS to organise the 19th European Conference on General Thoracic Surgery in 2011.
Marseille is wonderfully located in the south of France, in the sunny region of Provence, bathing in the blue Mediterranean Sea, and offers a lot of historic treasures combined with the pleasures of sea and sun. The oldest city of France, it was founded 2600 years ago by Greek sailors from Phocaea who discovered the Mediterranean cove of the ‘Lacydon’ while exploring for a new trading outpost. Since then, it has had a rich and turbulent history, giving it a unique identity, different of all France. Indeed, Marseille the rebel was often in opposition with the dominant political powers. Locally, it is usual to say that, in accordance with its geography, Marseille faces the sea to welcome foreigners, but offers its back to the rest of France, especially Paris! Marseille lies in a heavily populated region of 1.1 million people. The people of Marseille are very diverse in their origin, but one of the things that unite them is their love for the city.
Marseille is easy to reach: its international airport offer direct routes to 74 cities in 28 countries by regular and low-cost airlines. It is linked to Paris Orly & Charles de Gaulle airports by a total of about 15 daily flights, offering facilitated connexions with overseas flights. The high speed train ‘TGV’ also allows quick transfer from Paris, Brussels and London.
Marseille has been designated as ‘European Capital of Culture’ in 2013. The city has many museums and galleries and there are many ancient buildings and churches of historical interest, as well as Greek and Roman remains. The city’s most famous site is the ‘Vieux-Port’, the main harbour and marina of the city, which is guarded by two massive forts (Fort St Nicolas and Fort Saint Jean). The heart of the city is dominated by the basilica of ‘Notre Dame de la Garde’, whose terrace embraces a spectacular panoramic view of Marseille and its surroundings. The small port of l'Estaque on the far end of the Bay of Marseille is bathed in a particular light which inspired a whole painter's generation among them Auguste Renoir, Paul Cézanne, Georges Braque or Adolphe Monticelli, who inspired Vincent van Gogh. Further out in the Bay of Marseille is the Frioul archipelago which comprises four islands, one of which, If, is the location of Château d'If, made famous by Alexandre Dumas’ novel ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’.
Near the city are the regional natural park of the Camargue on the West, and the national park of the Callanques on the East. The Camargue is a wetland of exceptional importance, situated in the Rhône delta – between the two main arms of the river – on the shores of the Mediterranean, which is the refuge of hundreds of species of migratory birds in particular. The Callanques, a wild mountainous coastal area of outstanding natural beauty is directly accessible by foot from the south districts of the city.
In the countryside around, at roughly one hour by car, are many attractive places of interest. In the East are the Roman cities of Arles and Nîmes with many vestiges of their rich past. In the North, Avignon, also named City of the Popes, retains the indelible mark of the Popes’ stay in the city, which was for a while the capital of the medieval western world. Today, it is a prestigious cultural capital with its world-renowned Theatre Festival. In the East extends the French Riviera, and not very far from Marseille, lies a small fishing village which remains the unavoidable destination for famous people: Saint Tropez.
The ESTS meeting will take place at the Marseille Convention Centre ‘Parc Chanot’ which offers all the facilities and is easily accessible by the urban public transportation system, buses and subway lines. According to its pure tradition, ESTS intends to set up a programme of the highest quality. While the scientific sessions will include the very best of your work, rewarded by many ESTS Prizes, the collaborative ESTS-AATS-STS postgraduate course, the techno-meeting, breakfast sessions and numerous symposia will gather a large number of leading experts in order to update our knowledge in the various aspects of Thoracic Surgery.
On behalf of the Local Organizing Committee, I welcome you to Marseille. I am sure that you will enjoy the meeting and the city, and I hope that you will be able to spend some additional time to explore our magnificent region.
Pascal Alexandre Thomas