Nostalgia journey: Zoe Williams and her BF revisit Marseille | Marseille vacations |


Before Julia and I had our kids, we always go-away together on a regular basis, punctuating the later part of the 90s with extreme feminine friendship in seven-day rounds (Saturday to Saturday, check-out at 10am).

Discover one tiny difference in you. I will bear in mind every thing, in eerie detail. I am able to recall the color associated with the carpet when you look at the cafe where we found in Marseille, the splashes of geranium resistant to the whitewashed walls, whenever I was every day late together with to share with Julia via a fax to her dad. I will remember the appearance on her face whenever she was required to lease a lounger from men on a beach who was completely nude, and the swimsuit she was putting on when she finished checking out Birdsong. I could remember the specific hue of this wine that made united states almost skip the ferry, therefore the time she dredged an outrageously complicated French term, from no place, to tell a waiter we had currently ordered however in reality would like to terminate the octopus, because we’dn’t realised what



I will be like her very own personal chronicler, the Venerable Bede to the woman Saint Felix. She, at the same time, if she actually hunches ahead and ponders it, can nearly understand that I became truth be told there. Give thanks to Jesus Marseille changed everything it’s got from inside the intervening many years, otherwise really the only conversation we’d had all weekend would have been:

«Surely you keep this in mind little bit?»

«Nope. Could you be positive it had been me?»

«YES We BLOODY have always been.»

We appreciated this town. We went there originally because some body had stated it absolutely was romantic, in a grubby, unpredictable, exhilarating, À Bout de Souffle sort of an easy method. I had a Jean Seburg harvest in preparation, and each time anybody wanted to shag Julia in order to find a pal in my situation (this was always how it went), she’d say unfortunately, »

Elle n’aime jamais les hommes, malheureusement

.» («She doesn’t like guys, unfortunately.»)

Foster + Partners’ award-winning Vieux Port pavilion on Marseille’s quayside. Picture: Erwann Merrien/Demotix/Corbis

Photograph: Erwann MERRIEN/ Erwann MERRIEN/Demotix/Corbis

Marseille had a violent underworld – or rather, it had a lot of crooks, though whether there is an overworld for them to end up being under was an open concern. We were continuously chatted up by males who were, likewise, attempting to mug united states. Nonetheless it did seem to be genuine multi-tasking, as opposed to the second aim clothed as the former. They’d take laborious interest in in which we were from, and everything we desired to do later on, before claiming, «Why don’t we choose a celebration via that street, next we could show you the way you use a cashpoint». More than once, our very own purses spirited on their own out of our very own bags as well as on to your flooring of whatever bar we were in, in that interim level of a pickpocketing event they call «plausible deniability».

Marseille still has exactly the same reputation. A French buddy, while I told her in which we were heading, said, «My Jesus, they will have you ever live – they will experience the shirt off your back – you will return wearing merely a G-string.» (To which we responded, «on condition that they give myself a G-string while they’re robbing me.»)

Nevertheless your urban area features undergone the exact same
method of improvement as Liverpool since getting European investment of Culture 2013. The docks are now actually pleased with glossy structures
, Les Terrasses du Port purchasing heart, bars, huge liners, shining success. Fort Saint-Jean, previously a tumbledown 17th-century fortification of no interest to anyone which generally likes to drink and purchase situations, might turned into
MuCEM, Rudy Ricciotti’s dauntingly futurist work of design
, casing … you understand, museum things.

Our hotel, Mama Shelter, is much like a sauced-up version of Malmaison, intensely trendy, with wonderful meals, 20 several types of pastis and a Darth Vader mask within the bedroom, should you wish to spice up the wedding with many Star Wars part play. We don’t do any of that, naturally, since our company is simply pals and I really do

adore les hommes


The Quartier du Panier is similar to only a little Soho, charmingly unnavigable, full of classic Louis Vuitton pants in impractical dimensions and small taverns, from where you are able to get the storyteller traveler bus («The Southern


is actually rich with history…») because pootles past. It really is in the form of a little train. Therefore demonstrably we can easilyn’t have in fact got about it.

Julia and Zoe back in the day

Photo: PR

I love the easy, unfussed self-confidence the French have actually regarding their food. As some other places deconstruct and get combination, and constantly try to reinvent, almost no changed, here: it’s still mainly bouillabaisse and dishes of langoustines on hills of ice. It is not all a triumph; a few of it still tastes on the 1980s, thick splodges where some perfectly tasty vegetable such as the pea was mashed with excess fat, on basis that everything tastes better when it reminds you of meat.

But when it really works, and a few piece of freshly caught seafood is actually transformed efficiently into dinner, bounty and timelessness radiate through the dining table. All things are essentially OK, I imagined. Not merely Marseille. Every Little Thing.

There are plenty attractions you cannot overlook from everywhere – the Palais Longchamp, Notre-Dame de la Garde, the port it self; countless of the facades, and their beautiful art nouveau fonts, have actually remained unaltered (whether through conservation legislation or because no one revealed any desire for changing them, i actually do maybe not understand). And also the place nevertheless smells the same – of ocean and drains and delicious smokes. I thought it might be a shame to simply take this excursion down memory way, without my personal young children, rather than smoke, so I decided to have a few. By Sunday I became puffing such it appeared as though my personal exhaust was ablaze.

Marseille today seems wealthier and never anyway dicey, but it has actually something within the fictional character that wide range can’t clean out. Whenever we turned a corner, particularly regarding constant streets leading from outdated interface, some conversation would overflow back into myself. «not keep this in mind little bit? We noticed your pet dog along with a quarrel about whether it was a husky or an Alaskan mamulet.»

«Nope. Who was right?»

«You were much more certain. I don’t know who was correct. We did not have Google subsequently.»

«that would have a husky in Provence?»

«That’s what you stated last time!»

Really don’t think it’s nostalgia that renders me think it’s great along these lines. I just think I became correct all along.

Flights happened to be offered by easyJet (

), which flies to Marseille from Bristol and Gatwick from £32 a proven way. Rental was actually provided by Mama Shelter (

), with doubles from €69 a night. Addiitional information:

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