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July 24, 2018

THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO MARSEILLE

This summer, I got the chance to check another item of my list. Travelling with one of my closest, childhood friends. Jackie and I have been friends, Jesus, since I can remember. We've known each other since we were like 6. We grew up together back home in Ghana. We lived in the same neighbourhood (sort of), we went to the same church, our parents have known each other (I'm sure) before we were even born. We went to the same school up until high school, then I moved to the UK and we lost contact. 

But somehow by magic (and I really, truly mean by magic) we met up again in University. I had no idea at that point she'd moved to the UK and the odds of us attending university in the same city and bumping into each other by accident was very small. I'll have to go through it in detail another time but we've been planning (since we were in University) to one day travel together. But work, adulthood, circumstances and just life in general got in the way!

But this year, we finally made it a REALITY!
We spent three nights in the beautiful city of Marseille in the South of France, just about a 2 hours flight from London, Stanstead Airport. Stayed in a beautiful hotel (Aparthotel Adagio) about 10-15 mins train ride from the centre of Marseille. It was a perfect location because it was easy to get to and from all the attractions, restaurants and bars we wanted to get to. The best thing about Marseille (as a tourist, that I found) apart from it being very affordable, was how easy it was to get around. Everything is in walking distance or a train stop away. The metro system is definitely a lot less scarier than the one in London. There's only two lines - A red (M2) and a blue (M1), so the chances of getting lost is very minimal. 

Both of our phones died on the second day I believe, we were stuck in McDonalds (yes, we eat McDonald on holiday too...although I find it's a bloody rip off in Europe. 15 Euros for a meal?! That's just thievery!) at 11pm with no idea which direction to walk to. We knew we wanted to be on the red line to get to Prado Périer which is the closest metro station next to the hotel. But the closest metro was the blue line so we just jumped on the next train and changed between the lines...easy as pie!

Not to waste even a minute of our holiday. We dumped our bags at the hotel, grabbed something to drink at the nearest bar and planned our a entire trip in about an hour. Our first stop was at Cours Julien which is the most artistic neighbourhoods I've ever been to. There was Graffiti everywhere....but in a good way! Now I don't speak French so there wasn't much I could understand from the writings on the walls but art is art and this was definitely stunning. Stunning enough to break language barrier.
We also visited Frioul Archipelago and Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde. Two places to put on your itinerary for your trip to Marseille. I think if (or should I say WHEN) I'm worth like...Pfftt! I don't know, something like £10billion, I'd like to copy the architecture and interior of the Basilica for my private résidence. All that gold!!! 

The Basilica is made up of two churches - the lower church which is a crypt (for a small donation, you can light a candle or two and say a prayer) and the higher church devoted to the Virgin Mary. The view from the Basilica is absolutely stunning  and gets better and better the higher you climb.

Frioul Archipelago is made up of four Islands, you have - PomèguesRatonneauIF and Tiboulen so there's a lot to see. Some of the beaches are sandy and some are rocky and full of pebbles (a little too painful to walk around to be honest) - Maison des Pilotes (sand), Calanque de Saint Estève (sand), Havre de Morgiret (pebble and rock) and Plage du Débarcadère (pebble). For €12, the Frioul Archipelago excursion takes you from Vieux Port to Château d'If (you can get of here, look around and jump back on the boat), to Frioul and then back to Vieux Port. Because it's a day ticket, you can spend the entire day on the Islands. If my memory serves me right, the last boat back from the Island is at midnight.

[Click on the map below to see full details of all the attractions we visited. Full descriptions and directions (with bus and train numbers as well as total journey times) of all places. All the work done for you 😊]

Two places we didn't get the chance to visit (which I'd like to the next time I'm there. Yes! I'm thinking of going back) are Château d'If and Parc national des Calanques. We fucked up on Château d'If so that's our bad. We had the chance to go twice and we missed it both times. The first time, we didn't know when to get off because we don't speak French. The second time, we were on the last boat of the day to Frioul Archipelago so if we had got off at Châteay d'If, we would be stuck on the Island for the night. So didn't have much of an option there.

You can get to most of the tourist attractions/excursions from Vieux Port (or Old Port in English) and there's a lot to do there too. There's lots of Museums to visit, a variety of bars and restaurants to chose from and because it's a long stretch around the port, you can enjoy a lovely, long walk with a beautiful view of the city, the port and the many anchored pleasure boats. It gets real busy at night but two things we noticed are bars (especially) and restaurants close relatively late compared to the UK (which we learnt the hard way....queue the McDonalds fiasco) and the people of Marseille aren't much drinkers. Clubs aren't that easy to find and most bars are shut by 10(-ish)pm but then again were are tourists so what do we know eh!
I don't even feel the need to say much more about these places because I feel the pictures speak for themselves. Marseille definitely has to be one of the best places I've been to so far (wait! do I say this on every travel post lol?). Frioul Archipelago has to be my favourite out of everything. I mean, come on, we both loved it so much we ended up going there twice just to watch the sunset.

Night-time on the Island is so beautiful. Just watching the sunset at the beach is definitely going to be something to remember forever. It's not only beautiful to capture on camera but the experience and just living that moment was and is truly amazing. If you ever get the chance to visit Marseille, even for just a day, THIS is the one thing that I would recommend.

Enjoy the rest of the photos and as always, I love you for stopping by xoxo
P.S. Thanks for the lovely instagram-able shots travel buddy 😉

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