I don’t remember how exactly Marseille found its way onto my list of places I wanted to go when I was a teenager, but it’s remained on my list for years. The south of France is so different from the other regions of France, and I was eager to visit and sample the Mediterranean-influenced food. When I found a great fare from Barcelona, I couldn’t resist.
On our first full day, we headed to the old port area and explored the various neighborhoods. I was really surprised at the large number of Middle Eastern and African shops, restaurants, etc. In fact, we had a hard time finding any restaurant serving Provençale food.
Eventually, we came upon a Senegalese place which seemed pretty interesting. Tigger was game, and we both really enjoyed the food.
The old neighborhoods and buildings were quite interesting. There is a lot of history in this area. We had planned a trip to see the Chateau d’If, an island castle fortress turned prison made famous by The Count of Monte Cristo. Unfortunately, because of heavy winds they had closed the castle.
During the rest of our time in Marseille, we continued to try to find a restaurant serving regional cuisine, and it was extremely difficult. The vast majority of eateries were places serving sandwiches, pizza, burgers, and kebabs.
Marseille felt so different from other areas of France that it, well, didn’t really feel French. It definitely felt Mediterranean instead.
We left Marseille to visit a friend living in La Garde. As we discussed our experience in Marseille, I discovered it matched theirs as well. Annie and her family had lived in Marseille for 10 months, and they had the same observations and frustrations that we did during our visit.
They do have a pretty good public transportation system which makes exploring the city pretty easy. We managed to to visit a few markets near the old town and that was really fun. There are also lots of places selling various flavors of granitas, and Tigger was quite happy about that part of it.
Overall, though, Marseille was just a meh experience. We’ve enjoyed the other towns in the region much more. It seems to be one of those places that people either really like or just didn’t care for, and the latter view seems to be shared by many of the people in nearby towns as well.
Have you been to Marseille? What was your experience like?