Sunday, 21 April 2019

Oh Marseille

I don't know exactly why I wanted to go to Marseille. I only had read an article about this southern French City: those typical travel stories about shopping, eating and sights, written for modern cityhoppers. I did not really know anything about the place. Maybe it was just the name "Marseille", it had been echoing in my head for a while. I love to listen to french language even I do not speak it myself. There was something about the imaginary vision of this place that spoke to my soul. In February we needed a break and it was time for Marseille.

Vieux port pavilion

I was smiling and feeling relieved when we landed at the airport. The sun was shining and I could store my dutch-finnish life and identity for a weekend somewhere between the Netherlands and France, above the clouds to get some early spring light and sun. Meanwhile I could be walking and filling my lungs with the mediterranean air and my mind with surprising details of this Frech harbor town.

The first steps down the hill from the Central Railway Station, towards the hidden see. Light beige buildings everywhere, mostly in bad condition. Thick air, smelling like dust and gas, mostly urban surfaces to see. Nothing was looking green, also because the season. There are hardly any green areas in the centre of Marseille. The blue sea view is giving the feeling of space down by the harbor and in the open areas near the waterfront. It was not love at the first sight, even our first lunch experience (sea food) was everything else than fresh. 

On our way from the airport to Marseille we were passing many suburban areas in bad condition. This city is a gate to Europe, there is a lot of poverty giving a contrast to the glittering surface of the sea. Trendy people having their fabulous lunch on the cool spots near the modern harbor area and at the same time the hard reality hitting the nerves just a few hundred meters away. I could not just stay in my touristic bubble, I felt the deeper tones of mediterranean blue. The best places to visit are the places that make us think and feel unexpected depths. The location of Marseille has made it a cosmopolitan melting pot of different cultures and immigration.

Old harbor, vieux port - the spot where the history of Marseille began.

Les Voyageurs (sculpture by Bruno Catalano)
Old town

Marseille Cathedral

We had only two days time to explore Marseille. It was good to watch to the horizon at the waterfront and get into more relaxed vibe after the winter and the grey months. It is possible to take a bus and visit some beaches too or take a a boat trip/tour to see the beauty of the coastline of Provence. 

Maybe influenced by our short City trip we are going back to France this summer with our friends. This will be fun also for the kids and  my son can practice his french. We have rented a house about 45 minutes drive from Marseille, so I think we will visit this place again. I really enjoyed my visit, even my first impression was not very good. We had two nice dinners and the night lights at the old port area with boats were beautiful.

I checked the life quality index of Marseille and as I suspected the pollution is a problem (pollution index 65.02= high). Sometimes I am disturbed of the air quality in Amsterdam (pollution index 30.28= low), but I wonder how bad the air can be in Marseille during the hot summer months. Sometimes I really miss the fresh air of Finland (Helsinki, pollution index 12.81= very low).

Check the life quality index of Marseille here. You can also find any information about other cities all over the world or compare the life quality between different places.

Villa Mediterranee by Stefano Boeri

Interesting wall in front of the Musèe Regards de Provence 

Harbor area of Marseille

Marseille is the second largest city of France after Paris and the main city of the historical Provence. Marseille was found circa 600 BC as the Greek colony of Massalia. Marseille is now France's largest city on the Mediterranean coastline and the largest port for commerce, freight and cruise ships.

The famous bridge to Museum of European and Mediterranen civilizations.
Visiting historical locations is giving perspective and building bridges from the past to this day. The story of humanity is continuing and making me think every story matters and we can choose meaningful paths to improve our life.

Reflection of us