I’ve always wanted to check out Marseille as I intend to gradually make my way to all the major cities and the quaintest villages of France. I’ve made a small dent in the country having visited the Cote D’or, Cote D’Azure, Lille, Bordeaux, Limoges, La Plagne (French Alpes), Versaille, and have the fondest memories of my Erasmus year studying in Paris ( a million years ago). Marseille has always been near the top of my list despite it taking me so long to get there. Its known as being one of the most multicultural places in France which in my mind, and rightly so, translates as lively. Plus its on the coast so what more can you ask for than a vibrant setting and a beach! Sadly going in March meant my swimwear had to stay put but I still got to enjoy the harbour and the stunning landscape which still were breathtaking on the gloomiest grey days.
En route the sun was shining over La Manche (English Channel) but sadly didn’t make it Marseille in time for my weekend there. At least I got to experience some sun even if still on the plane!
I stayed with a friend in the very chic Panier district which hosts a pristine shopping mall with its own terrace and harbour.
The Musee de Beaux Art (Museum of fine art)/ Palais Lonchamps lives up to its name as the building is one of the most impressive works of architecture I have seen and the variety of art on the inside was surprising for such a small museum. It was great to see dignified portraits of Africans & Arabs alongside those of French aristocracy plus a vast collection of imposing sculptures. Plus I loved the random Giraffe in front of the Giraffe theatre which is located in the building in addition to the Natural History Museum.
Another lofty heritage site is the church Notre Dame de La Garde which I couldn’t help comparing to Montmartre in Paris due it being situated on a hill with Panoramic views of the city. I can’t decide which I loved more about Marseille’s guardian church , the details of building, its striking interior or the views – it was an overwhelming experience and the pictures don’t really do it justice but I tried!
The Vieux Port (Old Port) is the heart of Marseille surrounded by restaurants and bars serving the cities signature dish, bouillabaisse (fish stew which I’ll show in my next post) and an array of wonderfully fresh seafood- so a paradise for me.
I also stumbled across the smallest and cutest market ever selling traditional Marseillaise soap which the city is famous for (amongst other craft, jewellery and gourmet food of course).
I had a taste of the Marseille night life in the White Rabbit bar which had a Shoreditch (east London hipster area) vibe. I think the rule for working behing the bar here is to be bearded, tattooed or both (the latter for men only thankfully). It was fun but not an out of the ordinary experience for me but I’ll definitely remember the delicious cucumber cocktail. I did my part to represent east London wearing jewellery from my boutique http://www.realmoftreasure.com which is also sold at East London’s finest, Broadway Market, but showed my respect to the locals by wearing a dress & shoes that I bought there. Oh and I spotted a fellow Brit- Susan Boyle.
Finally- a random cheapo shop with an ironic logo tee stating ‘I love to see your money hanging in my closet’- well not if you buy the 5 euro boots?!