While jet lag has its tentacles in me, I have arrived safe and sound in Marseille. France’s second largest city and one of the most important Mediterranean ports, Marseille is a bit gritty, multi-cultural, and so far, absolutely wonderful. I will be here for a month, using the city as my base to explore the region.
The vieux (old) port of Marseille is the center of tourism here in the city.
Since this is a long stay in a single place, I wanted to maximize my budget. Hotels were out of the question, so I decided on a one bedroom apartment via Airbnb. I have my own space in the heart of the city, and a kitchen to help save money by cooking at least one or two meals a day – although of course I also intend to try all the local specialities! (My Airbnb hosts took me out to dinner last night. Check out these amazing mussels, one of Marseille’s iconic foods!)
Mussels gratined and baked.
I am staying in the Panier, the oldest district of Marseille, and mere steps (literally as the city is built on levels and many “streets” end up as staircases) from the old port, the hub of all things Marseille. Museums, beautiful churches, fortresses, and more are all within just a couple of minutes from my wonderful apartment, and I intend to explore pretty much everything the city has to offer, while getting a feel for daily life here.
My adorable apartment here in Marseille!
Most of my time will be spent here in Marseille, but I am getting out of town at least once a week to explore Provence and the stunning French Riviera, or Côte d’Azur. Specifically, I have trips planned to see the following:
Nimes – This city, about two hours by bus or an hour by train west of Marseille, is known for some of the best Roman ruins around. A colosseum is still in use today! Most fascinating to me, Nimes was the ending point for a long aqueduct, and visitors can see where the water was diverted into pipes serving different parts of the city.
Avignon – Did you know that once there were two Popes at the same time? One was based in Rome and the other here in this French town. The Papal Palace is certainly the highlight of Avignon, built along the Rhône River, and I look forward to bringing you this story.
Aix-en-Provence – Aix, as it is called, is an upscale town in the heart of Provence. A center for shopping and dining, it will provide me (and all of you) with a different view of the region.
Les Calanques – Just outside Marseille lies some of the most stunning Mediterranean coastline in all of France! Now a national park, it is focused on calanques, small shallow inlets surrounded by steep mountains. Sounds like a perfect place to go hiking!
Monaco – This tiny principality is surrounded entirely by the sea and France, but has maintained its independence, and its status as a hub for the rich! From yacht watching (yes it’s a thing here) to viewing the Prince’s Ferrari collection to a night at the iconic Casino Monte Carlo, I will try my best to blend in.
Chateau d’If – More than anything, Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo inspired my trip here to Marseille. The first portion of the book takes place here, and at an island prison off the coast called the Chateau d’If. Channeling my inner Edmond Dantes, I will visit and hope I don’t need to try to escape!
Sunset over the Chateau d’If as seen from the Panier district.
This promises to be a busy and exciting month, and I look forward to sharing all of my experiences with all of you!