Featured photo for Marseille, France

Marseille, France

“Wow, this is pretty nice!” I exclaimed as we emerged from the Gare de Marseilles St-Charles downtown. The remark was one of surprise since various people had told me that Marseille was poor, dirty and dangerous. Yet the first things I noticed when emerging from the central bus station were beautiful buildings such as an old church on a hill.

The good feelings continued when Katia and I went to look for lunch. We settled on a Turkish restaurant, and a full-service meal of bread, salad, chicken döner kebab (Turkish sandwich), and French Fries were only four euros (about US$5.70). This was in great contrast to Paris where the same lunch could have easily cost 16 euros.

We then left Marseille to take a train to the beach town of Cassis, but returned later that night. Before heading back via bus to Aix-en-Provence, we went looking for Marseille’s Old Port in order to check it out.

We started walking west. Almost instantly, we were confronted with graffiti-lined streets, buildings with window bars and sketchy-looking areas. “Um, let’s take the Metro,” Katia and I agreed.

So maybe Marseille—or at least parts of it—was as poor, dirty and dangerous as I had heard. The Old Port, however, was nice. We strolled up and down the harbor and took the photos below.

These few hours in France’s second-largest city were my only exposure to it, but maybe I will be back. I wouldn’t mind visiting that old church on a hill that formed my first in-person impression of Marseille.

Statues by the G̢re Marseille St-Charles (St. Charles Bus Station).
The Notre Dame du Mont.
The city bike share bicycles were like the V̩lib' bikes in Paris, just with blue-colored fenders.
At the Vieux Port (Old Port) in Marseille.
Statue in the Old Port.
Yachts.
Katia by the harbor.
More sailboats.
What looked like an old castle by the harbor.  I have yet to identify it yet.