Part of the entrance to MuCEM.


When it was announced that Marseille was to be ‘European Cultura Capital 2013’, there were a number of raised eyebrows. How could that dirty port, teeming with factional fighting and disjointed streets, become a ‘Cultural Capital?’ Marseille is one of civilization’s oldest cities, a melting pot of various cultures and influences, a huge harbour, a major rail junction, and, in nearby dormitory suburb of Aubagne, houses the (in) famous French Foreign Legion Headquarters. It is said that Gendarmerie will do anything to avoid a posting to Marseille – the gang fights are a bit violent for their sensitive stomachs.

Well, the City Fathers of France’s second city have proved their detractors wrong. And, what an asset to the community, they have developed.

After hearing numerous reports, we gathered up Wally and headed off for the Old Port and a spanking new parking garage which opens up on to a wide piazza housing the MuCEM (The Museum of Christian and European Civilization) and futuristic Convention Centre – all looking towards one of the four Notre Dame’s in Marseille, the ferry terminal and surrounded by the azure Mediterranean sea.

The Notre Dame – seriously spruced up. This used to be in the middle of a wasteland.

Grey coloured concrete bridges link this area with the Old Port Marina and numerous restaurants, and also the Fort of St Jean, a Marseille landmark, which itself has undergone a remarkable facelift. complete with sculptures, local herb-inspired gardens and decorative elements using the local materials. Talk about a renovation!

The Convention Centre from Fort Saint-Jean.

Concrete lattice work covers the entire MuCEM, and a glass walkway encircles the building.

The Old Port is somehow cleaner, more ordered and the restaurants have lifted the bar. We had often regarded them as a bit of a rip-off, serving pre-packaged boullabaisse at a hefty price. We went to the busiest restaurant, had a more than acceptable pasta and salad, were served by a friendly, charming waiter and a great experience was had by all.

Simon and Wally outside the MuCEM.



One Response to “Marseille Discovered (Anew)”

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