Well I was wary of Marseille, based on reports from various people who had visited at various times. Some had been in the 60s and 70s and described it as a classic port city in which you seriously watch your back. Others who'd been more recently including a French family who bought a house there and left London to live in it, said it had changed a lot from its stereotype and that it was laid-back and charming in a scruffy way. We drove around Marseille by accident, after getting lost from Marseille Provence airport heading to Cassis - it seemed leafy and faded in a grand way - and the port itself was pretty.
Then we went back by train from Cassis a few days later, arriving at Gare St Charles. When you walk out of the station, you get this great view, like up at Sacre Coeur in Paris
After that we headed straight towards Le Panier, the old charming pastel washed tiny alley sized street neighborhood which slopes up from the port. The Nazis dynamited half of it. But what was left we wanted to visit. Just before we reached the steep steps to get up to its highest point (an entrance in if you like), I saw a building I'd love to live in
Le Panier turned out to be a gorgeous little maze, littered with cute houses, laundry flapping on lines out of windows and over balconies. Little shops. A cross between old Nice, Naples, the medina in Tangier, old Cadiz, old Seville.
Coming out of Le Panier, we had lunch at Cup of Tea, a bookshop meets cafe, just at the entrance to another steep climb into Le Panier, run by a cute family. After that, we checked out some shops and then took the train back to Cassis, which took less than an hour, delays included.


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