Holiday Diary - Marseille
Having visited the North of France a handful of times and the South very briefly during a Med-cruise stop off, I couldn't wait to discover the va va voom of sunny-in-September Marseille.
It was a much awaited long-weekend trip at the beginning of September '17, after a summer of office hours and a "living for the weekend" lifestyle. I flew over on the Friday, my friend Frenchie picked me up from Marseille airport, swiftly taking me in her Fiat 500 to her terracotta house in the hills, with baby blue shutters and a pool. I was, most definitely, in France!
I was visiting with a bunch of uni friends, the wine was flowing, red, white, rose, you name it (we were in France after all?!) and we started the trip off with a dip in the pool and a barbecue.
The evening consisted of red lipstick, a suit and tie or two and a trip to Marseille balcony night-club, Printemps Terrasses du Port, which overlooks the gorgeous waters of Marseille, the cruise ships and the twinkling lights. We indulged in fruity cocktails (and yet more wine) and danced the night away at the outdoor spot in VIP, with house music vibes to accompany our journey through to the early-hours.
We shook off our hangovers with a cold dip in the pool and a trip to the local bakery in Vitrolles, where Frenchie lives, for baguettes, and onto the supermarche for fromage and jambon! When in France, after all...
The afternoon was spent exploring Marseille. Savon de Marseille is a traditional soap of the city, made using vegetable oils, with the first documented soap maker beginning his trade there in 1370. Consequently, Marseille is renowned for the production of soap, with streets lined with soap shops that sell beautifully coloured soaps, with alluring smells. I purchased an orange scented block and a beautiful blue, retro, soap dish.
After walking around the port which is alive with yachts and super-yachts, we walked past the streets lined with quaint bars, French accents filling the air and we sat down for Aperol Spritz o'clock!
Desperate to catch the sunset, we zoomed back to Frenchie's house, grabbed our sweaters and a bottle of red wine and headed up the hill to the most idyllic viewing point imaginable. We had to climb a fair few steps at a fast-paced jog to see the setting sun, but once at the top where a small chapel lay it was so worth it.
The chapel was on top of a hill that overlooked Marseille in its entirety, the country's second largest city, with the Virgin Mary in gold shining at the top of said chapel. The sun was setting over the sea as we raised our glasses for a cheers, (and did an insta-Boomerang, of course!).
We stayed until the hairs on our arms stood up and the cold night air set in before returning to cook a spaghetti bolognese and drink yet more wine at the house.
On the Sunday, we decided to hike across the mountainous coastline of Parc national des Calanques. The drive from Vitrolles was around an hour, and the hike was short (but requires sturdy shoes, no floppy-flops!), about 30 minutes in total. Then, you reach a beach, against the backdrop of a wide sea and various scattered islands in eyes view, on a pebbly cove area that I'd describe to be similar in appearance to a Greek Island.
This particular area extends over 520 km², of which 85 km² is land, while the remaining is marine area. So, you get the best of both worlds, whilst enjoying a cheeky beer. Due to the time of day we went for our hike, the return journey (around 18.30 local time) boasted a picturesque sun set as we made our way back across the rocky terrain to the car.
We spent our final evening dining out at fish restaurant Le Saint Trop, in Carry-le-Rouet, just outside of Marseille. The fishy dishes we ate whilst overlooking a moonlit harbour included Mussels and Octopus, washed down by some crisp rose.
Then? It was back to the house for a final glass of the good stuff before hitting the sack, with bellies full and happy hearts.