Marseille, France

Looking out to sea

Looking out to sea

To think we almost didn’t visit Marseille! We’d heard so many negative things about it, mostly along the lines of it being dirty and dangerous, that we nearly gave it a skip.

The coast

The coast

Well, had we listened to others and bypassed this major French city, we would have missed out on the delicious seafood (notably, the bouillabaisse for which the city is famous), relaxed resort vibe, stunning views and colorful streets. While parts of this port city were less attractive than others and some sections had alarming amounts of garbage piled sky-high, we did not feel unsafe.

Colorful Panier neighborhood

Colorful Panier neighborhood

Marseille is France’s oldest city. It was first settled by Greeks in 600 BC, who appreciated the port and established a trading post.

Église Notre-Dame-des-Accoules

Église Notre-Dame-des-Accoules

The city is large and densely populated, but it has a seaside town’s laid-back attitude. I’m sure the sunshine and cool coastal breezes have a calming effect!

Monument aux Repatriés d’Afrique du Nord

Monument aux Repatriés d’Afrique du Nord

My favorite part was the coastal road heading out of the city, Corniche Président John F. Kennedy, that winds along the Mediterranean past beaches, seafood shacks and fishing villages.

Ratonneaus and Pomègues  with Château d’If  in the middle

Ratonneaus and Pomègues with Château d’If in the middle

Out at sea, a 16th-century fortress and prison Château d’If sits on the Île d’If. The château was constructed to protect Marseille from Spain. White-limestone islands Ratonneaus and Pomègues comprise Îles du Frioul. From the 17th to 19th centuries, plague victims were quarantined there; today, it’s where rare plants thrive.

Door

Door

Busy square

Busy square

Marseille is a great city for walking around, taking in the sights and sitting at outdoor tables eating delicious seafood. If you hear it’s not worth seeing, ignore the poor advice!

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