I wanted to go to Marseille because Julia Child lived there. Julia and Paul lived near the Old Port in Marseille in the 1950s, and I figured since we were going to France and my Julia Child pilgrimage was well underway already, we may as well check it out.
Well. Marseille is weird town. The moment you arrive you can feel that it’s past it’s prime, and maybe that prime was a few hundred years ago. There are a few blocks of touristy restaurants and shops near the Old Port that are quite busy, an ancient fort turned history museum, two cathedrals and a tiny public beach. It’s sleepy and a little grimy, but the color of the water is enough to make a visit worth it.
The water in this part of the Mediterranean is the most unbelievable turquoise, so blue it can hardly be captured on film. The landscape is harsh and beautiful. The sun beats down fiercely on limestone cliffs covered in scrubby little plants giving life their best shot. I imagine the people of Marseille are doing the same.
We stayed for just two days, and I don’t have many recommendations, mostly just photos. If you do visit, take a boat tour of the calanques— the small coves where the limestone cliffs meet the sea. And wear a lot of sunscreen.
Ps. Don’t bother with the bouillabaisse. Touristy spots just don’t do it justice. Make Julia’s when you get home.
Pps. Trattoria Marco was actually dang good pasta. Gnocchi make my heart sing.