Nostalgia travel: Zoe Williams along with her BF revisit Marseille | Marseille getaways |

Before Julia and I had our children, we used to disappear completely together continuously, punctuating the later part of the 1990s with rigorous feminine relationship in seven-day cycles (Saturday to Saturday, check-out at 10am).

There was one tiny distinction between united states. I could bear in mind everything, in eerie information. I could remember the colour of carpeting in the cafe in which we found in Marseille, the splashes of geranium contrary to the whitewashed wall space, whenever I had been every day late along with to tell Julia via a fax to her father. I am able to recall the look on the face whenever she needed to lease a lounger from a guy on a beach who was entirely nude, as well as the bikini she was using when she completed checking out Birdsong. I could recall the specific hue for the drink that made us nearly neglect the ferry, therefore the time she dredged an outrageously complex French expression, from no place, to inform a waiter that individuals had already purchased but in fact would want to cancel the octopus, because we hadn’t realised exactly what



I will be like her own individual chronicler, the Venerable Bede to the woman Saint Felix. She, meanwhile, if she actually hunches onward and ponders it, can nearly understand that I found myself indeed there. Give thanks to God Marseille has changed approximately it’s for the intervening many years, otherwise really the only discussion we would have seen all weekend might have been:

“Certainly you remember this bit?”

“Nope. Will you be sure it had been me personally?”


We loved this city. We went truth be told there to begin with because somebody had mentioned it absolutely was enchanting, in a grubby, unstable, thrilling, À Bout de Souffle sort of a means. I had a Jean Seburg crop in preparation, and when anybody wanted to shag Julia in order to find a pal in my situation (this is always the way it went), she would say unfortunately, ”

Elle n’aime pas les hommes, malheureusement

.” (“She doesn’t like men, unfortuitously.”)

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

Photo: Erwann MERRIEN/ Erwann MERRIEN/Demotix/Corbis

Marseille had a criminal underworld – or in other words, it had a load of crooks, though whether there was clearly an overworld for them to be under had been an open concern. We were constantly talked right up by males who had been, at exactly the same time, trying to mug you. But it performed are genuine multi-tasking, rather than the second objective decked out since previous. They will get mind-numbing desire for where we were from, and everything we wished to perform later on, before saying, “Why don’t we head to an event via that road, then we can explain to you how to use a cashpoint”. Over and over again, our wallets spirited on their own of our very own bags and on towards the floor of whatever bar we had been in, during that interim period of a pickpocketing occasion that they call “plausible deniability”.

Marseille still has the same reputation. A French pal, whenever I told her in which we were heading, mentioned, “My Jesus, they will have you ever live – they are going to experience the shirt off the back – you will come back using only a G-string.” (To which I replied, “as long as they provide me personally a G-string even though they’re robbing me.”)

But you your city features undergone exactly the same
types of transformation as Liverpool since getting European investment of community 2013. The docks are satisfied with shiny buildings
, Les Terrasses du Port purchasing center, taverns, huge liners, sparkling prosperity. Fort Saint-Jean, previously a tumbledown 17th-century fortification of no interest to anyone which generally wants to take in and purchase circumstances, is turned into
MuCEM, Rudy Ricciotti’s dauntingly futurist work of design
, construction … you are sure that, museum material.

The lodge, Mama Shelter, is much like a sauced-up form of Malmaison, extremely fashionable, with wonderful meals, 20 different types of pastis and a Darth Vader mask during the bedroom, if you want to improve your own wedding which includes Star Wars character play. We did not do some of that, without a doubt, since we are only friends and that I really do

adore les hommes


The Quartier du Panier is a lot like just a little Soho, charmingly unnavigable, packed with classic Louis Vuitton pants in impractical sizes and small pubs, from which possible catch the storyteller visitor shuttle (“The south


is actually wealthy with history…”) since it pootles past. It really is in the form of a tiny train. So demonstrably we can easilynot have actually got upon it.

Julia and Zoe in older times

Photograph: PR

I enjoy the straightforward, unfussed confidence the French have actually regarding their food. As various other countries deconstruct and get combination, and constantly make an effort to reinvent, little has evolved, here: it’s still mainly bouillabaisse and dishes of langoustines on hills of ice. It isn’t really all a triumph; some of it nonetheless tastes regarding the 1980s, dense splodges in which some completely yummy veggie such as the pea has become crushed with fat, in the basis that every little thing tastes better whenever it reminds you of beef.

But once it works, and a few little bit of freshly caught fish is actually transformed effortlessly into dinner, bounty and timelessness radiate from the dining table. Things are generally OK, I imagined. Not only Marseille. Everything.

There are plenty attractions which you can not overlook from anywhere – the Palais Longchamp, Notre-Dame de la Garde, the port by itself; countless with the facades, making use of their breathtaking art nouveau fonts, have actually stayed unaltered (whether through preservation legislation or because no body showed any desire for modifying all of them, i actually do perhaps not know). Additionally the location still smells alike – of water and drains and tasty smokes. We realized it will be a shame to take this journey down storage way, without my personal kids, and not smoke, therefore I decided to have a couple of. Of the Sunday I was puffing a great deal it seemed as if my exhaust was unstoppable.

Marseille today seems richer rather than whatsoever dicey, however it provides one thing with its figure that wealth can not wash out. Anytime we switched a large part, especially about uphill streets top from the old slot, some dialogue would flood returning to me. “not remember this little bit? We saw a dog along with a disagreement about whether it was a husky or an Alaskan mamulet.”

“Nope. Who was correct?”

“you’re a lot more specific. I don’t know who had been correct. We didn’t have Google next.”

“who have a husky in Provence?”

“That is what you stated last time!”

I don’t imagine its nostalgia which makes me personally like it such as this. I just believe I was correct all along.

Routes were provided by easyJet (

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

), which includes increases from €69 every night. Facts:

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