On Tuesday I got home from going to Marseille with college. It’s taken me a couple of days to recover and to be honest my body clock is still confused despite there only being a one hour time difference! The trip was amazing and by far the best educational trip I’ve been on, so I thought I’d give you a little overview of what I got up to and share some of my photos.
Our flight was at 12:45, but we met at the airport at 10:00 to give us enough time to go through security (security was so stressful arghh). I think I was quite nervous before the flight because the last and only time I’d flown before was two years ago when I went to Berlin, so I’d sort of forgotten how it all worked. The actual flight was quite enjoyable though! it was nice to chat to my classmates and as we came towards Marseille, we flew low over the bay and a view of the beautiful city before we’d even arrived. The actual descent though was very bumpy and we all felt ill and had headaches from the changing air pressure, but we soon recovered after landing! My first thoughts when we left the airport were “it’s so hot here!!!” becuase honestly it was. But it was lovely to go from cold, humid Britain to sunny Marseille!
We bought our 48hr Citépasses at the airport, then took a half an hour coach journey to Gare St Charles in the city centre near to L’Université Aix-Marseille. The train station had trees growing inside and really funky announcement music. We then walked through the station to meet my teachers parents who gave us a lift in their cars to our accommodation on the other side of the city.
By the time we were driving through the city, it was pretty much rush hour and the traffic was manic – a car even crashed into the side of ours in the chaos. But we had a great view of the city and the sea views, and stop off along the way to take some photos and admire the view.
Once we arrived at the youth hostel in an area called Bonneveine we unpacked, had dinner and headed down to the beach which was about a 10 minute walk away. It was so nice to cool off in the sea and watch the beautiful sunset.
After eating breakfast at the hostel, we took the bus to the Vieux Port (old port) of Marseille and walked around the port to MuCEM (Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilistaions). The building of MuCEM was really cool – it looked like ripples on water or a coral reef and when you were inside the shadows the facade created were beautiful. The museum had an exhibition called Adventieurs des Mers where there was a section showing the progression of world maps through the centuries which was very interesting. There was also a large book shop where I bought the French version of I’ll Give You The Sun (Le Soleil Est Pour Toi) by Jandy Nelson, which is such a beautiful story. We also explored the old fort which was connected to the museum which had a sort of Greek/Roman feel to it.
We visited the picturesque Quartier du Panier for lunch, which was full of narrow streets between the classic pastel yellow houses with blue shutters that I’ve always associated with France and loads of cute little shops.
We also explored the nearby Cathedrale La Major which was utterly stunning – both inside and out. (Sorry for the blurred photos guys, I kept getting sun cream on my phone camera lens – the struggles of having to use incredibly thick and unreadable factor 50 eh).
We finished the day by taking Le Petit Train (a little tourist land train except it went on the road amongst the traffic) up the hill to Notre Dame de la Garde – the cathedral that sits high above Marseille and if you’ve ever visited or seen photos of the city, you’ll probably recognise it as the “pointy thing on the hill”. The views from the top were amazing and I took some great panning photos of the whole city which look very Bastille Wild World Album-esque.
As the city is fairly flat, surrounded by mountains, when you’re up high it looks huge because you can see the whole entirety of the city at once.
Monday was by far the hottest day we were there as the wind had dropped significantly. We again took the bus to the Vieux Port where we waited for about half an hour for the ferry to take us to Chateau d’If – one of the small rocky islands of the coast fo Marseille. The Chateau d’If is a (if I remember rightly) 16th century prison for political and religious prisoners. It was actually so pretty and once again had stunning views of the city and over the Med, so I can’t imagine it being a terrible place to serve a prison sentence (except when it’s stormy – it was bad enough trying to board the island in calm waters!).
Because of the heat, we decided to have a picnic in the Parc de Borley, go back to the youth hostel to change and spend the rest of the afternoon swimming and sunbathing at the beach. It was great although the only place where I tanned was my ankle??
Tuesday we had to leave early for our flight at 11:05, so we took a bus, metro and coach back to the airport before boarding or flight. It was really sad to leave, and I felt so nostalgic flying over France from south to north and seeing the beauty of it all.
Typically it was raining and grey when we landed back in the UK and we all desperately wanted to go back to Marseille!
Overall it was such an amazing trip and I’ve made so many memories and good friends. (I also find it pretty cool to be able to say we travelled by bus, car, coach, plane, boat, train and land train all in the space of four days!)
I’ll hopefully be writing a bit more about Marseille over on my French blog soon, so keep an eye out for that!