If I had a dollar for every time I had heard about Marseille before this trip, I would have 1 dollar. Truthfully, if it wasn’t for reading the Count of Monte Cristo in middle school, I never would have heard of it. But, what is there to do in Marseille? With only 7 hours to enjoy myself I had to make the most of it; as a college student on a budget, I really had to make the most of it!
Known as a cosmopolitan city in France and a big tourist destination, Marseille is the oldest and second largest after Paris filled with ancient history, diversity of culture and an amazing seaside view. Should you visit here if you’re in France and have a day off? Most definitely.
During my study abroad trip, Marseille was on the itinerary, so the 9 of us and our program director woke up super early (5am guys, no joke). We got a great group deal on our train tickets (the TGV no-less) and got snacks and breakfast things for the train ride, so we were all set to go. Marseille was actually one of the very first excursions that we went on, none of us were accustomed to the french culture much, but it was an adventure and you know how I feel about those!
What to do, What to Do?
What do you do in Marseille with so little time? First things first we went to the office of tourism, because Lawd knows how excited we can get and then realize we have no plan!
Main Tourist Office
11, la Canebière – 13001 Marseille
T: + 33 (0) 826 500 500 – fax: + 33 (04) 91 13 89 20
Go here for all your questions and concerns, they really made it easier for us by giving us a map and making us comfortable.
Notre Dame de la Garde
The basilica of Notre Dame de la Garde sits at the highest point of the city, and according to the inhabitants, watches over the city of Marseille and protects them from harm.
This was one of my favorite churches that was in France for so many reasons.Notre dame de la Garde has a Romanesque style and Byzantine effect about it due to the former ownership of the city. It has colorful mosaic and tiled floors, not to mention the beautiful stained glass all along the walls. Designed by Henri Espérandieu, the basilica was builtin the 19th century.
My favorite thing to do while in the basilica was to lay on a pew and stare at the ceiling. As I laid there, the only thing I could think of was how could something so beautiful be made by man? It’s so true that back in the day they were more creative and innovative than we could possibly imagine. Especially with the amount of tools they had, (or didn’t have I should say). I was amazed.
A little boat ride
Here is what really made me fall in love with Marseille. This boat ride! The weather was beautiful, the sun was shining and the water was so so blue. We got our tickets for the boat ride for less than 25 euro each, and due to the season, it was late september, that was a pretty good price.
So remember what I said about the count of Monte Cristo? In the novel, Edmond Dantes the protagonist gets thrown in the Chateau D’If that was, at the time, a high security prison used for the lowest of the lows and criminals who has committed high treason. Placed literally in the middle of nowhere, literally nowhere, it’s surrounded by water and the only way in and out is by boat.
Guys, yes, the picture is from Snapchat, but I was too excited to realize what I was looking at and this is the only photo that I have. We didn’t get to go inside because tours were closed for the day, but it was enough for me to see it from the outside. If you really want to visit the Chateau d’If and take a guided tour, feel free. Let me know how it looks from the inside 🙂
Have you ever seen the ocean and asked how could it get so blue? I was asking myself the same question. My #1 word of the day was “wow.”
Then came the amazing part. As the boat went up the coast it seemed like the water was changing color. Maybe it was the sun, maybe it was the magic of France, but I knew something was different. When I finally tuned in to what the captain was saying it lade sense: we were in the Côte d’Azur.
I mean, have you ever seen water so magnificent? For all my followers that travel a lot, I’m sure you can top this, but for me, this took my breath away. Sorry if the pictures are blurry, the boat was going pretty fast in some places.
And the further in we went, the bluer the water got!
The best part about the picture above was that on the other side of the boat there were thousands of jelly fish, just swimming around, having a party I guess! The water here was so sparkly and blue and all I kept wishing to jump in the water and feel it. Granted it was September, so it was probably freezing, but still! I’ve always wanted to go to the Côte d’Azur, and to cross something off my list was satisfying.
I’m sure if I was to return again, I’d visit some restaurants, because there’s amazing seafood in the south of France- trust me! The list of places I want to go will never end, but if you have cool places that you’ve been to or think I’d enjoy, if you like this post, or even just want to say hello, shoot me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or leave a comment below and I’ll add it to the list! Summer ’17 will be upon us before we know it and don’t forget spring break! Don’t forget to smile today!! Thanks for reading!