Marseille, where the City meets the Sea

When I go outside it is a two minute walk to get to the sea, framed under the arches of an old roman bridge in the Vallon des Auffes. Then there is the corniche, where road and walkway weave their way along the rocky coastline as it smooths into urban beaches that are mostly deserted this time of year. It is late December and you can still spot an occasional wetsuit-equipped diver searching for trash or treasure, hard to know which from my vantage point above. Marseille is a sprawling, vast city, the second biggest in France after Paris. What it lacks in Paris’ iconic sights it makes up for with its character and grit.  It is incredibly diverse and any local will affirm, half-jokingly that the city is more African than French.  Marseille has something of a bad reputation for being dirty and dangerous.  The good thing about a bad reputation is that the city consistently outlives it and tourists are few and far between.  There is still plenty of opportunity for an outsider’s eyes to make their quiet observations and find unexpected touches of beauty.