We came into Marseilles in the heat of the day, just before noon. Since it was too early to check in, we decided to head to town and look around. It was very hot and humid. We walked out of the parkade to a view of a gorgeous cathedral. If I thought Sete was a French tourist town, Marseilles is an international tourist destination. We counted no less than 10 cruise ships in port. The entire old port was lined with restaurants, pubs and shops. They definitely catered to their tourists.
We were staying about 3 km away, in the less privileged part of town. On our second day, we stumbled upon a boulangerie and pizza shop (there seems to be one on every block) and bought our entire breakfast for half the amount we would have paid at the hotel. We came back that night to get pizza and drinks for the same price. While we were sitting there, the place was abuzz with people double-parking or walking in for their pizzas or baguettes. It was quite a community of customers from the local area. Allan even witnessed something we had only read about in the papers: a person yelling at a local resident throwing a bag of feces out the window of the apartment above.
The traffic in Marseilles was just as astounding. There didn’t seem to be many traffic rules. The amazing thing was how little people used the horn. Scooters would weave in and out of traffic, often driving between lanes, cars double-parked in very narrow lanes and pedestrians just timed their crossing hoping to avoid being hit. Drivers just took things in stride and avoided everything. They reacted quickly but didn’t often spend time on road rage. It was like being in a video game. Very stressful for a Canadian passenger (Allan wanted to emphasize that only I was stressed).
Our first tourist destination was Chateau d’If (which we will put in a separate blog). We also wandered upon other interesting sites: the Longtemps de la parc was a beautiful monument, now an art gallery and museum and the shores of the Mediterranean was a beautiful line of beaches, cliffs and villas.