I arrived in France the day after the attack in Nice. I’ve written before about why terrorist attacks should not prevent you from travelling (this post was geared toward Turkey though it needs updated after the coup attempt, but it applies to France as well), but I’ve never travelled to a country so soon after one. France was in a declared Three Days of Mourning, with the flags at half mast. We considered not even coming to France at all, but rather just taking the train from Barcelona and not getting off until Italy. We decided to still got to Marseille, but cut our stay short and to skip the one-night stop in Nice that we planned. In Marseille, life was functioning as normal with plenty of people out and on the streets.
My French is essentially non-existent, but Marseille is a place where English is seldom spoken and generally used as a last resort, unlike in Reykjavik or even Barcelona when people realize you’re a native English speaker.
Rather the first question asked (in English) is “Do you speak French?” Non. Je ne parle pas francias. I learned about ten words in French and had to use them all of the time. I was pleased that “le chat” or “the cat” was one of the only words I knew prior to arrival in France and that it actually came in handy when I saw laundry detergent called “le chat!”
The thing I liked most about Marseille was that it did not have the “tourist” feel to it, unlike so many other cities. I heard far more French than English spoken and most places seemed to be frequented by locals as well as the few tourists.
We went to the oldest soap shop in Marseille, Savon de Marseille, where we not only saw a clever timeline about the history of soap and tried some, the girl working spoke excellent English and gave us loads of insider recommendations of what to see in Marseille. One of those recommendations was Les Terraces du Port at sunset. It was a gorgeous view and I think we were the only non-locals there.
One of the highlights was taking a ferry to Isle d’Frioul. On the way, we passed Chateau d’If, the island perhaps most famous for being the setting for The Count of Monte Cristo. The beaches at Frioul were a gorgeous deep blue colour and I could have stayed on the beach for hours!
As always, our stay flew by and soon we were on a train to Italy!
Hi, I’m Crystal! I love to travel and am currently a graduate student in Scotland. You’ll get all the best tips and insights from my experiences as a former ice-skating coach in Iceland and former study abroad student. Of the 27 countries I have visited, a type 1 diabetes diagnosis has been the strangest land yet. Type 1 has not slowed down my travels and you'll learn how to take type 1 with you on the road! You can connect with me further on Instagram @CrystalChilcott, or send me ideas of where I should travel next via email: firstname.lastname@example.orgHappy Travels, Crystal
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