I’ve wanted to go to Marseille since before I even started studying French. I love the movie The Count of Monte Cristo (not the book…the ending is different). Marseille didn’t seem to be on anyone else’s priority list, so when I found out that my friend Laura, who is studying abroad in Aix-en-Provence, was planning to go the 27th of March with a group of her friends, I jumped at the chance to go.
After an hour and a half train ride without any major problems (!), I met up with Laura. Her friends weren’t there yet because they had gone out to celebrate a 21st birthday the night before and decided to sleep in a little longer.
It was really great getting to talk to Laura for a while though because we’re both in the same place. We both studied abroad last summer and are back again. We are both enjoying our experiences, but we know we’ll be ready to go home when our programs end because we each had months gallivanting around Europe last summer.
We had a lovely chat during a lovely stroll through the Old Port, watching men and women selling all sorts of fresh seafood.
Marseille is full of churches and the first one Laura and I went to was full of women making palm crosses for Palm Sunday. The people in that church were ridiculously nice. When Laura asked if there was a bathroom, the man from the Rosary stand led us to the Sacristy bathroom.
When we climbed to the top of the hill where the Notre Dame de la Garde is (no exaggeration, CLIMBED), Laura’s friends were there. One of her friends, Anna had an even worse Barcelona Snow Storm story than I did. She had been in Spain that weekend and took a bus back to France. The bus got stuck at the border and they had to sit there for hours. The bus engine was off to conserve gas, which meant NO HEAT. Later, they had to leave the bus and walk through the snow for a half an hour. Other people from other buses slowly joined with their group as they were walking. It was a Spanish bus, and Anna doesn’t speak Spanish, so she had no idea what was going on. They were led to a random gymnasium in the middle of nowhere. Gypsies had gotten wind of the free shelter and so the gym was packed and there were not enough blankets to go around. The next morning, they trekked back through the snow to the bus and slowly made it back.
Luckily, both of us weren’t scared out of travelling anymore, because Marseille is gorgeous. Notre Dame de la Garde has a beautiful gold ceiling. It’s funny because there is a huge gold ceiling and then miniature sailboats hanging on the walls. Sailors and fishermen put boats there so that Mary will protect them. It’s a fun mix.
Once we found out boats weren’t going to the Chateau d’If because the winds were too strong that day (bummer), we strolled around Marseille. Marseille was poppin’ that day cause their soccer team had just won a big match. We went to the Palais Longchamps which looks a lot like the fountain I loved in Barcelona. There is a lovely park right behind the Palais and we enjoyed people watching and chatting.
I never ended up getting Bouillabaise, because what started as a poor fisherman’s dish has become an expensive local specialty. I did get a bagel with cream cheese and salmon, which, to me, is just as good.