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!