Dave & I bought our first house last year and because of this – especially the saving that needed to done beforehand – we skipped having a holiday abroad. Instead, we took some delightful mini-breaks to Cornwall, Devon and Wales. This year, however, we made sure we could fit in a city break away and booked a long weekend in Marseille, France.
Day 1 – Friday.
Our flight was at 6:30am from Stansted Airport and therefore, had a very early start. However, the breakfast and prosecco did the trick to wake us up and we boarded the plane feeling excited for the adventure to come.
Fast forward two hours and we landed in the French city of Marseille. After being dropped off at the bus station, we walked in the direction of our accomodation, passing the impressive Porte d’Aix – a triumphal Arch that marks the old entry point to the city – as we went.
Unable to find a suitable hotel, we booked an Airbnb apartment instead. Our host, Pauline, was great with the process leading up to the holiday and throughout it. We arrived early and so a couple of drinks from The Babel Community later, we grabbed the keys from her and dropped of our stuff. The apartment was lovely! It was a decent size, had big windows to let in lots of light and was clean. It even had a sweet balcony, which was perfect for drinking wine on in the evenings.
Having explored the apartment and excited to see the wonderful city, we headed back outside and into Le Panier.
Le Panier is also know as the old quarter and was my favourite aspect of Marseille. It was gorgeous! The narrow streets oozed with character and colour, most being adorned with incredible artwork. It would have been easy to spend hours exploring each road! And as you’ll see throughout this post, we wandered through the district at least once every day!
The first main attraction we came across was the Cathedrale de la Major – a.k.a. Marseille Cathedral. The photos probably speak for themselves but the striped building stood out above the rest that were nearby. It was quirky and fascinating!
We then walked down to see the Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations, or MuCEM for short. Again, this was another stunning looking building. A mesh of metal covers the exteriors and lights up blue at night – though we missed this, maybe next time!
Afterwards, we made a beeline straight to the Vieux Port in search of a bite to eat. We soon found the perfect place: Le Tribeca. A medium cheese pizza was ideal for two and exactly what our tummies were craving after travelling! We munched away and sipped on our drinks lazily, watching the world go by and enjoying that feeling of the start of a holiday.
We fancied a holiday tipple after finishing our lunch and made our way back to a bar we’d seen near to the Cathedral. Casa Pietra soon became our favourite watering hole for the weekend, with it’s friendly staff, reasonable prices and refreshing drinks – they do a mean Aperol Spritz, see the photo by going down to day 3! The waiters even let us practice our French out on them; they were such good sports, as we were terrible!
Being self-catered and on a slight budget – who knew houses would be so expensive! – we wandered through the quirky streets in search of a local supermarché, before heading back to the flat to make dinner and have an early night.
It’s safe to say that we were already in love with Marseille by the end of the first day!
Day 2 – Saturday.
Saturday morning was met with more glorious sunshine and a delicious breakfast washed down with an espresso. Once showered and ready for the day, we set out on a walk towards the old Port.
Next up was the Notre Dame de la Garde; one of Marseille’s most famous attractions, located on top of a hill that overlooks the city. For many reasons, this is a favoured spot for tourists and one in particular, is the splendid view across the city.
The stripes and gold extended to the interiors as well. The ceiling was covered in glittering, patterned mosaics and it looked astonishing! It definitely has to be one of the most breathtaking buildings I’ve ever seen!
As much as we enjoyed our time in France, we did struggle with figuring out the meals. Whereas us Brits like to have sandwiches and light lunches, the French tend to have their main meal in the middle of the day. This made it quite hard to find something small to eat. That was until we stumbled on Oscar’s Bagels & Sandwiches. These had to be the best bagels we’ve eaten! In our usual ‘half and half’ style, we ordered Chicken Caesar and Pastrami. Both halves were stuffed full with tasty filling and it was well priced too!
I’m definitely the adventurer in our relationship and so to compromise on having lots of walks, we’d cleared an afternoon to find somewhere to sit and soak up the sun. This meant we found ourselves going through the port again and to the apartment for a quick freshen up, then making our way back to the beautiful courtyard outside Casa Pietra, enjoying rosé and beer. It was the perfect wind-down afternoon, chatting away and enjoying the warmth of the sun – that could have been the drinks too!
Day 3 – Sunday.
After another delicious breakfast at home, we had plans to spend the day hiking in Les Calanques National Park.
We took a short bus journey and stepped out on to the trail and in to the heat. And by ‘heat’, I mean the muggy, all-enveloping, sweat-inducing, not-even-going-to-get-a-tan type of heat that comes from a mostly overcast day. As well as the heat to contend with, we had also both woken up with knee pain and had a steady hill to climb. Not the greatest start to our Sunday! But we set off, trying to keep in positive spirts and spotting various creepy crawlies as we went. The amount of butterflies flitting about was wonderful!
In a bid to beat the crowds, I had found some directions to take us off the ‘usual’ trail and down to the small fishing port in the This was all good and well until I realised we hadn’t taken a turn and were still following the mass. I was desperate to go to the place and so after a very adult-like tantrum – *ahem* – we turned around to try again. In doing so, the pain in our knees started to increase and every step started to feel a bit like torture, especially for Dave. On top of all of this, it started to rain.
When we reached the point where we needed to take a different turning, we struggled to find the route. In the end – and after a few tears on my part – we gave up on trying to locate the impossible-to-find trail and settled down to have a picnic at the Belvédère de Sugiton. Luckily, the rain had stopped at this point!
Once we’d both calmed down and accepted our fate, we began to relax and enjoy the view. And what a view it was!! Even if the port below was clearly mocking us by being visible but not reachable!
It was unfortunate that the trip had not gone as planned and I feel we didn’t make the most of the Calanques. It was incredibly magnificent and is somewhere I’d like to visit again. Maybe next time, we’ll go straight to the
Following the slightly disastrous morning, we got showered and dressed up for an afternoon of drinks at our favourite bar to cheer ourselves up! It was bliss!
I loved that Aperol Spritz!
Day 4 – Monday.
Monday meant the end of our long weekend in the South of France. We felt very sad to be waving goodbye to Marseille but it had been an absolutely wonderful break!
I would highly recommend Marseille to anyone who doesn’t mind a slightly deshevelled, more rustic city. I, for one, fell absolutely in love with it!