Marseille is a wonderfully diverse ethnic community. A poster in my first hotel room called it the African Port of the North, and it truly was. I was thrilled to stay in this cool character building with hospitable and friendly staff right in the middle of it all.
I felt a little bit drawn here out of language testing curiosity. My own personal language skills other then English are best in French followed by Spanish then lastly German.
“Good luck with the accent in Marseille,” a friend warned me where apparently there are challenges. The important stuff you can mime.
Marseille has access by public bus (3 euros return) to Parc nationale des calanques which have rolling fields of rosemary bushes that are covered in honeybees. There is literally nothing up there in the mountains but trails and a French University, so you will have to engage your adventurous side and bring supplies and good walking shoes.
The dusty limestone cliffs overlook steep edges descending hundreds of feet to the blue Mediterranean where waves lap against rocky shorelines. French hikers and tourists climb amongst multiple paths through the dusty trails. Runners pass by as they scale the slopes of the seaside panting and sweating in the afternoon sunshine. It’s roughly 20 degrees but most are wearing pants and jackets or long sleeve shirts. Some greetings are exchanged with fellow hikers but mostly people go about their walks on their own.
Writers look for places with interesting stories where the words seem to flow out or there’s a theme or idea, or message that mulls around. Marseille felt like an interesting story town. I imagined the French docking there for centuries bringing goods or leaving on journeys. Many heartbreaks, fresh starts and ends to long journeys happened.
The money once used to build and create now sustains, repairs and continues the city’s functioning life. All these buildings, all the people over the years that lived, worked and played there… all the boats that docked and sailed on. Maybe I’ll come back one day by ship.