With the French school holidays comes a lot of extra free time. So out of the two weeks, I jumped on Amy’s suggestion to go on a girls’ trip (note to self: shouldn’t use that hash-tag) to the south of France.
Amy, Valerie and I boarded on the budget high speed train on Monday morning two weeks ago and just three hours later (and starving since after all it was a budget train meaning no food service) we were in sunny Marseille.
My first impression was that the city looks unfortunately dingy due to all the graffiti. Grafitti covered nice stone buildings, intricately carved wooden doors, store front windows. The second impression was that it was very hilly. Our short walk to our AirBnB accommodation was seemingly long due to the up and down mountain climbing! Our thighs and calves certainly got a workout that week.
Lastly, the one thing I didn’t think could be possible was that the dog-poo on the sidewalks was actually worse than in Paris. Other than these minor points, Marseille was vibrant and lovely. The Old Port was fantastic – I really love any city with a port or ocean front. If only Paris had that… I think it’d make everyone much happier!
We enjoyed multiple cups of coffee and glasses of wine in the sunshine overlooking the port most afternoons. The Notre-Dame de la Garde high up on the hill overlooking the city seemed too far to reach on foot but we did it and we were rewarded with magnificent views.
We tried all the must-try foods of Marseille: bouillabaisse (fish soup), navette biscuits from the oldest bakery in Marseille (founded in 1781!), pastis (a licorice flavoured liquor) and also bought some beautifully scented soaps to take home.
We also had some wonderful meals as well: a mix of Lebanese mezze the first night, then traditional fish meal and more French food plus baguette sandwiches for quick lunches. Meals were delicious and so affordable compared to Paris prices. Service was generally much friendlier too!
We stayed just around the corner from Cours Julien, a funky part of town with great little restaurants, bars and cafes. It’s just too bad every time we were there it seemed like a quiet night. Nevertheless, we had our last dinner there at a great restaurant called Le Gout des Choses. And for the third night in a row, we closed the place down.
Unfortunately the weather didn’t co-operate with us. Rough weather prevented us from visiting Ile d’If. And the drizzly rainy made us delay our little hike to the Calanques until the last day. It was well worth the wait though. We headed east of the city on the beautiful clear morning allowing plenty of sunshine to reflect the crystal blues waters of the Mediterranean. The large imposing cliffs and quiet bays made us all wish summer was already here. We hiked up the path to the lookout over Sugiton to enjoy the amazing views.
All in all it was a great quick getaway. I explored and enjoyed Marseille with some great company, fabulous ladies that liked to enjoy good food and wine in southern France. A huge thanks to Amy for getting us together on this trip… We’ll have to do more of these!
Check out Amy’s Blog Post for more pictures and details about our trip!