Recently, me and a few friends from university took a trip to the South of France and in particular, Marseille. Marseille is France’s second biggest city, however it’s not as touristy as other Southern destinations such as Nice. I have no idea why though… Marseille is a wonderful place with wonderful people. Many people think the French are rude and up tight – to some extent this is true – although the people of Marseille see themselves as somewhat different to other French people. I must say it is clear why. Locals in Marseille are so kind and have all the time in the world for you, something which can’t always be said about Parisians for example. Anyway, I’ll stop rambling and start talking about the actual trip.
I have no idea why we chose Marseille as our destination, probably something to do with the cheap flights, glorious sunshine and the fact we speak the lingo! We decided to rent an appartment from airbnb – my first time using the site – since Marseille doesn’t have too many hostels. However, I was not let down, in fact it was fucking amazing. We had a terrace, yes a terrace, all to ourselves. So, as you can probably imagine we spent a fair bit of time drinking cheap wine on our terrace pretending to be actual French people. Although, we were quietly reminded that we weren’t each time we looked at our pale Scottish skin. Sad times. If you’re thinking of using airbnb do it! Our appartment slept six people and was £50 a night ( we stayed 5 nights and there was 5 of us).
Our terrace. Coolest chill spot in the South.
Beer and Grenadine, Southern drink dubbed ‘un Monaco’.
You might be asking yourself, what actually is there to do in Marseille? Well, the short answer is a LOT. Marseille was crowned European Capital of Culture for 2013 so it must have something going for it, right? The city is full of great food, good nightlife and some of the most amazing scenery I have ever saw. Firstly, if you’re looking for a more chilled break by the Mediterranean then you should hit one of the cities many beaches. Just ten minutes on a bus from the city centre, you can find Plages du Prado, a group of beaches surrounded by stunning hills. There are some beaches in the city centre such as Catalans but they are very busy and not as clean. If you’re feeling more adventurous, take the 30 minute bus ride to Cassis. The small commune just outside Marsielle boasts a lovely beach, beautiful hills covered in Mansions and also the famous Calanques. Calanques are openings in the cliffs, kind of like mini fjords, where you can go swimming and cliff jumping. A must do in Marseille. The bus to Cassis costs around €3 return and leaves from the Centre of town!
Sitting on the rocks in Cassis overlooking the beach and stunning hills.
If you’ve being looking at Marseille for a while, you’ll probably have heard of the Old Port or the Vieux Port in French. It’s the main port in Marseille and is home to some cool, but expensive restaurants. Now, I’m a student and have next to zero money, so unfortunately, I never tried any of these places. However, if you go a few streets back, you’ll find pretty much the same quality of food for a MUCH cheaper price. Food in Marseille isn’t too expensive, we ate out most nights and had two courses and a few beers and wines each with the bill only amounting to maybe €20 each! Now of course you don’t have to eat out, the supermarkets are cheap enough for food and alcohol. I mean, we were buying 20 beers for €8, what more could you ask for?? All I would say is, if you’re planning on eating out most of the time, take some extra money, if you’re on a smaller budget, rent an appartment or book a hostel with a kitchen so you can cook your own food and save yourself quite a bit.
Some boats docked at the Vieux Port.
Nightlife in Marseille isn’t as good as the student town of Aix-en-Provence but it does boast a good mixture of bars and clubs. At the Old Port, you’ll find a choice of Irish bars, traditional French bars and some cool clubs such as Le Trolleybus. If it’s more of a studenty, artisan feel then head to Cours Julien, a street bustling with hip bars and arty street performers, it’s kind of Marseille’s answer to SoHo. One of the coolest places I visited in Marseille was the Dock des Suds, a bunch of old warehouses turned into an events venue that hosts a club night every Tuesday. It’s kind of like a nightclub – but outdoors. How fucking cool is that? And if you’re thinking, nah not that cool. Well, it’s even got a mini football pitch for all the drunken hecklers to pretend they are Zidane for a night. It was also only €3 for a beer which is really good in France.
Put your skills to the test at Dock des Suds nightclub.
There you have it. Marseille. An amazing city full of culture and coolness. Whether you want to chill by the beach or pretend you’re a hipster on the Cours Julien, Marseille has something for everyone. The city has a bad reputation for its 1970s drug crime but genuinely, its not like that at all. So, go and book a flight, you won’t regret it!