We were both rather shocked by Marseilles at first sight, by the dirt, the lack of safety, the rundownedness of the architecture. But by the end I think we’d pretty much agreed we have to go back. The rejuvenation and revamping of the Fort Jean area was, I believe, one of the big undertakings by Marseilles for its celebration in 2013 as a designated European City of Culture. It really is incredible, spotlessly clean and stunning combination of the old and the new. We didn’t go to anything in the museum as we didn’t have the time, it was our last morning before catching a train for the next leg of our trip. I understand that the islands and boat tours generally are great to do and that too is for another time. Really, other than eat well, we were very bad tourists, even by our own standards, which couldn’t be much lower. It would also be a good possie for day trips, including Avignon.
Another new project that came to fruition at this time is the newly opened Intercontinental. We sat about here for a drink one afternoon:
It’s good to see that big business can have such a positive role, in this case, preserving a magnificent building the history of which goes back to the 1100s when it opened as a hospital and continued on in that role until 2006.
All in all, my initial conclusion is that Marseilles is a perplexing mixture of grubbiness and grandeur. I look forward to exploring the contradictions further, another time.