When we left for Marseille on a Friday morning I wasn't sure what to expect. I had heard a lot about the city and everyone seemed to think differently about the it. It ranged from 'not worth seeing' to 'really interesting' and despite hearing mixed reviews I knew that Marseille was the city in France I was most intrigued by and that I needed to see before heading home. So when we got on the Flixbus in Nice I was feeling really excited about the prospect of finally getting to visit Marseille. Can I just mention how amazing that bus was? I've been on good buses before but this one definitely exceeded all expectations, the comfort was better than on planes which are used for overnight flights. Anyway, when we finally arrived in Marseille after 2 and a half hours we first headed down to the harbour and I would strongly advise you to do the same if you ever visit because this place will make you fall in love with Marseille, no matter what happens next. I was blown away by the beauty and the vibrant atmosphere at the Vieux Port and the second I saw it I knew Marseille had made it onto my list of my favourite cities.
After wandering around for a bit we took the bus up to the famous church 'Notre Dame de la Garde' which also turned out to be the spot with the best view over the city. After taking plenty of photos (I'm guilty of always taking 150 pictures that look all the same in the end) we finally stepped inside and the interior certainly surprised me. I had expected it to be impressive but it was far more than that - the design was breathtaking and it somehow reminded me of oriental art. There were also ships hanging from the ceiling and the walls were covered by pictures showing various (fishing) boats. The Notre Dame de la Garde is supposed to be the protector of the city and as Marseille is a seaside town so it only makes sense that she was in charge of helping all the men safely reach the harbour many years ago. Having visited the most famous attraction of the city we headed back to the old harbour, enjoying a sandwich while bathing in the sun - I have definitely had worse views when eating lunch. When I say lunch I should probably add that this was at 4 pm and that it was indeed our second lunch. Oh well, travelling makes hungry. After lunch numéro deux we walked to the famous quarter of Cours Julien which is known for its outstanding street art. And yes, it was outstanding indeed. I could have easily spent all day just walking around admiring the art - my favourite piece was a sprayed painting of houses made of books. I want to move there. Right now. Who else is joining me?
Apart from the street art I really enjoyed the vibe of the city - some people say it is a bit dodgy and even though I could see why people said that I didn't bother me that much - and it definitely felt safer than Cape Town, a city that is very close to my heart. And that I hardly ever felt unsafe in actually. Anyway, I loved seeing all those different cultures coming together and I really enjoyed how much culture this town had to offer - you could buy all kinds of food from the typical French cuisine to Turkish sweets and African products. Apart from Cours Julien I also fell in love with the oldest quarter of the city, Le Panier. Which, fun fact, basically translates to 'the basket'. We just wandered around, took a look at la Vielle Charité and also visited the surrounding of the MUCEM, a museum that features the history of European civilisations. If I had had more time I would have surely paid it a visit, it looked very interested and I have heard that visiting it is a must but well, there is only so much you can do within 6 hours, right? Before taking the bus back to Nice we enjoyed dinner at the harbour, treating ourselves to a crêpe each. And a freshly pressed orange juice.
And while we took a last look at the city of Marseille we both vowed to come back one day and only leave again once we would have tried all the amazing little cafés and restaurants at the harbour (let's keep dreaming). But in all honesty, Marseille has definitely conquered my heart and I can't wait to go back one day and explore the city and all it has to offer.