Exploring Marseille, France

Marseille, France is an amazing port city that is transforming itself into a destination for visitors.

Ever since I was a little girl, I have loved French culture. I love the language, the food, the je ne sais quoi of the French people and the idea of visiting, or even living, in France.

I started taking French my sophomore year of high school and my love of the language lead me to more than eight years of French classes. I am definitely not fluent, but I can hold my own in a conversation (if they are talking slowly and not in slang.)

I wanted to study abroad in France while I was in college, specifically in Aix en Provence, but due to extenuating circumstances that dream didn’t work out.

So with all my years of French in my pocket and my love of the French culture since I was little, you would be shocked to know I didn’t get there until I was 27.

My husband and I (both wanderlusters) knew we wanted to take a big two-week trip in the summer and France and Spain were at the top of our list. (He loves the Spanish culture, wine and food … especially the jamon!)

At the Notre Dame de la Garde.

Most people we told about our trip assumed we were going to Paris. Now, don’t get me wrong, Paris sounds amazing and I would love to go there one day. But Marseille and the South of France really pulled on my heartstrings.

I loved the idea of living (for a week) in a down-to-earth French city where a mishmash of people live and work every day. We had heard also that Marseille was the 2013 European Capital of Culture and that there were plenty of amazing things to do and see.

It is also closer to Aix en Provence, which is the city of my dreams, than Paris.

So, we found our tickets, rented apartments through Air BNB and packed up to spend a week in Marseille (with side trips to Aix and Cassis) and a week in Barcelona (with a stopover in Perpignan.)

When we got to Marseille, even after being awake for more than 24 hours, I was shocked by its real beauty. Yes, the streets were a little dirty, but the city, with the Notre Dame de la Garde towering overhead, was beautiful as were its people.

The warm goat cheese salad at Au Vieux Clocher.

We found our apartment in the heart of Marseille just off the main street and set off to explore.

Our first meal was the perfect way to start our trip and a good precurser to what we would find in Marseille.

For dinner, we found this little restaurant outside of the main touristy port called Au Vieux Clocher. We had the most delicious red wine, warm goat cheese salad, pizza and roasted duck with peaches. It was way too much food for two people, but we devoured every bite.

From there, each and every day we saw something new in Marseille. Some people say it is good only for a day trip, but I think it has so much more to offer. You can’t get to know a city in just one day. You have to take time to get to know her, make friends with her and let her show you her secret hideaways.

Some of the secrets we found were: the hidden shops in Le Panier district, the spice shops, donner kebabs with french fries (and mayonnaise) on top, pain au chocolate, the restaurants off the beaten path, Nutella crepes and the people. Marseille has some of the kindest, funniest people and I loved getting to know them, even if it was just to get some fresh cherries at the market.

I fell in love with France the minute I stepped off the plane and felt the French air. France is where my heart is and now that I have finally been there, I can’t wait to go back.

The view from our apartment in Marseille.

2 thoughts on “Exploring Marseille, France

  1. Pingback: Joy from travel not once, not twice, but three times | A local's look

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