Day 1,634 of Traveling the World | Marseille, France | July 24, 2022

Marseille! It is a city that has been mentioned in every history course that we have taken online over the past three years. It has been an international port since being founded by the ancient Greeks around 600 BC, who called it Massalia. The Black Plague likely entered Europe through the boats that docked here. Whenever a trivia question asks about a major, ancient port on the Mediterranean, the answer is always: Marseille.

We found it to be a city with many faces. We stayed in Vieux Port, the ancient port, and it was very touristy and busy, with loads of people walking around. The oldest part of the city is Le Panier, at quite an elevation from Vieux Port, so we huffed and puffed as we climbed a mountain to get there. But when we did, we were rewarded with delightful shops and cafes, little winding pathways and streets, and tons of street art. We drove through the newer part of Marseille as we entered the city, and it looked a little rough. Neighborhoods called Noailles and La Plaine are to the east of the Vieux Port area. They, too, are where the typical working class people live, filled with street markets and street foods. We were a little apprehensive just driving through the close, winding streets.

The cathedral here is huge. It impresses not with its gold and statues and elaborate stained glass windows, but with its size. It is adorned in the signature Moorish red and white stripes, indicating that this is, indeed, an immigrant city, filled with many cultures. It was mostly too hot while we were here to be very ambitious about walking a lot or seeing many places. We are remembering why we never traveled during the summer! We only went out in the heat long enough to see the things that are pictured, but not much more. The sunny photos do make Marseille look like an idyllic vacation spot – but they came at the cost of just being too hot!

Vieux Port Marseille, the Old Port, in use for commerce and trade for over 2,600 years. This is the beautiful view from our hotel balcony.
The water is a deep blue, and there are literally hundreds of pleasure boats docked here.
There were boats going in and out as we stood and watched, in particular some bigger boats that did short harbor cruises.
We loved this scene! She held her legs straight up for quite a while. They were just enjoying the late afternoon heat with a breeze coming off the water.
WHAT is this fun (or funny) picture, you ask? It is a structure at the Vieux Port, and just has a reflective ceiling so you can look up and see yourself on the ground! We like how it reflected the tops of the three tents.
Eglise Saint-Ferreol les Agustins, across from the Vieux Port. In 1369, the old church was given to the Augustinian hermits. But this terrific white facade (which looks Spanish to us) was constructed in 1875 to replace the one that was destroyed.
Fort Saint-Jean, overlooking the Vieux Port.
St. Laurent Church, on a hilltop above the Vieux Port.
Statue Le Dresseur d’Oursons de Louis Botinelly. Don’t know what the title is all about – we just liked the sense of movement in the statue!
Remembering that Marseille is about all things maritime and the sea, we noticed this etching of a Viking ship high on a building.
Cathedrale La Major, a massive 1800s neo-Byzantine cathedral.
The interior just overwhelms with its massiveness.
This is what it is like to look upward into the gigantic domes that you see outside!
A view from the side.
“We put a LOT of work into assembling this Christmas Village in the cathedral! I know! Let’s leave it up year-round, and we will never have to take it down and put it up again for the rest of our lives!!!”
We don’t get it, either, but yes – that is a string of bras introducing this pretty Art Walk.
A close-up of the easel at the entrance.
There was art on the wall and on easels as you walked down this street.
Being a port, loads of fish was on sale here. One sign said, “10 pieces of sardines for 15 euros!” Every other restaurant offered seafood exclusively.
Pretty walkways were everywhere in Le Panier.
This patio was starting to fill up for lunch.
The peek inside this store looked attractive.
The artwork caught our attention – we didn’t realize we were catching a kiss about to happen!
Another landscaped walkway – they all seemed to be quite a climb in Le Panier!
Sitting down to rest across from this store, we just liked how it looked with its many plants.
See??? Up, up, UP!!
Marseille City Hall, with a heart-shaped anchor sitting in front.
A lion on stilts!
A bull on stilts! Both the lion and bull are on the city’s Coat of Arms, representing commerce and trade, strength and power.