There is something about Marseille…..
Maybe it is because on my 1st visit to Marseille the train stopped about an hour outside the city and an announcement came over the PA in French ( I know zero ) and everyone started to grab their bags and get off the train. I didn’t know what to do and took the safe bet and followed the crowd to a regional train, that got me to Marseille, this was already an adventure and I wasnt even there yet.
Marseille to Paris is like Hamburg to Berlin or maybe Oakland to San Fransisco. A little more grit and a little less glitz….. feel right at home. One thing you will notice right away in Marseille is the amount of languages being spoken. A little like New York, but a obvious hot spot of immigration from Northern Africa and the Middle East.
This is not to say you will not find fine dining and shopping, you will. You just wont be overwhelmed by it, that and you can find plenty of dives to hoist a few back as well. I spent a few hours in a local pub which was a very obvious Olympique de Marseille supporter. After a few beers the owner of this establishment had bought the whole bar a round of drinks. He gave a toast in French, and looking at me and seeing only a smile and no reaction, looked at his bartender and she explained , from what I could understand, that I was American. The owner looks at me and says the only words in english he knew ” I Love you” . Well I had a room of new friends that I couldn’t even speak too.