When I mentioned to friends and family that we were heading to Marseille for my birthday weekend, I was met by slight bemusement, followed by a "Why?!" I began to question whether it was a good idea, considering its chequered history. It has an image of sleaze with its criminal underworld and drug problems, but we were very pleasantly surprised. The city is buzzing but relaxed and nicely placed around a busy port. The weather was a perfect, sunny 22 degrees every day and we loved it!
This was the first sight we met as we walked into the city from our hotel. It is the awesome Marseille cathedral, rising majestically from the Mediterranean sea and just a few metres from the Panier neighbourhood where we went for a few evening drinks.
The MuCEM museum is situated right near the cathedral and is another awesome structure, but ultra modern in feel. It is encased in a latticework structure made from concrete and has a bridge that spans the water to the Fort St Jean. There are many museums and galleries in Marseille, including the famous Le Corbusier development, but sadly there was no time for all of those. I will just have to go back some time.
The port is the central part of the city and very busy with lots of boats coming and going and a string of open air restaurants around the perimeter. It is overlooked by the church of Notre Dame de la Garde, situated on the highest point of Marseille.
We managed to find a lot of graffiti which I loved. Even cars have been adorned and a lot of the artwork is really involved and beautifully rendered.
Needless to say, we ate and drank well. We bought some of these cakes from a local patisserie and devoured them at the port, sitting with our legs dangling over the edge and taking int eh sights and the sun like a pair of lizards!
I have to say, a weekend in Marseille was the best way of celebrating (or ignoring) getting one year older!