Parisians are well known for being annoying and permanently unhappy. But in the summer time, life seems be slightly better for us, as we finally can do what we makes us happier quick trip the South of France. Every weekend TGV trains are packed with stressed and depressed Parisians desperate for the sun , « cute southern accent » and for great pizza.
Couteau said that ”French are the Italians in the bad mood”, but apparently this description does not include those from Marseille, as they are very happy. When I visited Marseille for the first time I had a quite a culture shock, it was hard to imagine, that I was still in France, because the city itself reminded me more of Greece, Spain or Italy. Why? Well first of all immediately after getting out from the train we got attacked by super warm air (while in Paris it has been raining since forever), by the palm trees and the smell of the sea, and last but not least by super nice attitude of the locals. Well as much as I like to live in Paris, the city does not spoil us with politeness here. People in Marseilles on the other way bombarded us with their kindness, just during first three days we have been invited for a cup of coffee, advised which beaches are not yet discovered by tourists and we have heard some lovely stories about the city.
Marseille Street Style
The only thing that didn’t impress me in the town was the street style. It was refreshing to see people without the scarfs, and take a break from the crowd wearing little black dresses, but in general the locals look very similar to guys from New Jersey. So the main look on the street for girls was super short shorts or dresses plus very strong tan and makeup, and the guys seemed to like typical gym outfits. This informal rule applies only for a young people, as older ladies in the city are as elegant as in Paris. They make a statement wearing their high quality, perfectly cut, chic outfits even when there is 30 degrees outside.
Quo Vadis Marseille?
Unfortunately not everything in the town is perfect. Suburbs of Marseille look more like the suburbs from developing country than Europe. Looking at dirty, buildings often fully covered by fungus, trash all around the streets and terrible public transport it was hard to believe that we are in one of the richest countries in Europe.
The poverty of the town is even more obvious after visiting Aix de Provence, the little town next door, where international students usually take intensive French language courses, and all streets of this tiny town are packed with high-end fashion boutiques.
It is hard to say why Marseille is so terribly poor, the locals mention mainly two huge problems: the corruption in the local government and 40% rate of unemployment. What is worse, not many people believe that the situation in the city would change one day.
For sure beautiful beaches, amazing weather, delicious food makes it easier to accept the inconveniences of the city, as even though Marseille is far from perfect, it is hard not to fall into the charm of the city.