Greetings from Marseilles ☀️
How wonderful to be with you once again.
In all honesty, my decision to come to Marseilles was somewhat ‘random’. I had already been in Annecy for a number of weeks, and as lockdown restrictions were finally relaxed, I felt called to travel to the coast.
I wanted to go spend some time ‘by the seaside’ as we say in Scotland.
And so I looked at a map of France, identified the areas that were ‘coastal’ and saw a name I recognized – Marseilles.
A final check on accessibility by train from Annecy (approx. 4 hours) and I was sold.
Next up, I clicked open my AirBnB app and quickly found an apartment that met all of my key criteria.
Perfect! 2 days later, I was all packed and on my way.
And I am so glad for the decisions I made. Well wait… NO ‘Decisions’ sounds a bit too…… well – ‘decisive’ – lets settle on ‘choices’. I am so grateful for the choices I made.
For I am absolutely loving Marseille.
It is such a vibrant, cosmopolitan city – and a bit ‘gritty’ (like Glasgow).
So much more than I was expecting.
I have loved walking around, soaking in the sights and the atmosphere.
Vieux Port, Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde, Parc Longchamp and the little fishing village of Cassis….. just a few highlights from my trip so far.
And I have enjoyed the city so much, I decided to share a little bit of history with you.
Marseille is the 3rd largest city in France (after Paris and Lyon) – and it is the oldest. It was founded in 600 BC as a port city, by Greek sailors from Phocaea. The sailors called their new city Massalia, which is where the current name originates. For the Greeks, and later for the Romans, it was a major point of transition and trade between the civilisations of the Mediterranean, and as you walk around the city, the influence of both of these is evident.
However, Marseilles’ importance as a port hindered its development as a tourist destination because while other Mediterranean ports like Barcelona and Valencia began to develop tourism in the 1970’s, Marseilles did not. The port was deemed too important.
But it would seem that the government is investing heavily now in making the city more attractive. There is a lot of work going on (very close to the old port) and all of it appears dedicated to cleaning up the facades of the very old building. Where the work has been completed already, the buildings look quite magnificent – and of course, very photogenic 📸
This morning as I prepare my newsletter to be shared later in the week, I am relaxing in Parc Longchamp – enjoying the sunshine and admiring the view of Palais Longchamp (which took 30 years to build).
Parc Longchamp was opened in 1869 at the same time as the palace, and the art and natural history collections – which had been housed elsewhere, moved into the palace at this time. Both the Art Gallery and the Natural History Museum are to this day, housed here and open to visitors year round.
As I breathe in the energy of the city, I am reminded of something I wrote in my last blog when I spoke of the benefits of travel as I see them. One of those in particular, ‘Revival of the Senses’.
Well I gotta tell you. If you are in the UK and are looking for an exciting weekend trip to revive the senses, you would be hard-placed to find anywhere better than Marseille.
It is more cosmopolitan than most French cities and as one of the closest/major ports to Africa, the influence of that continent is felt strongly throughout the city though, there is definitely Greek and Roman influence in the architecture.
Much of the ‘action’ here in Marseilles, centres around the old port and there are a multitude of restaurants and cafes where you can sit and enjoy the hustle and bustle of the city.
Having said that, friends who know France much better than me, have warned me to be ‘cautious, as there are parts of the city which are not considered ‘safe’ at all. But I have to be honest, not once in my 2 week stay have I felt remotely ‘threatened’ or unsafe here in Marseilles.
But of course, as is the case in any big city, you must remain ‘alert’ at all times.
Let me know if you decide to book a trip 💕
Say YES to the adventure of life.
x Until next time, sending you love x
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