From London to Marseille by train

You know the kind of man that has this thing for trains? And for funiculars and trams? I’m married to one. So when the tickets went on sale for the first Eurostar ride from London to Marseille, he naturally booked our premium seats. And one for Grandma, so Bobcat spent nearly 2/3 of the 7-hours-long travel time on her lap. Very cultured style of traveling 🙂 I was most grateful as we left home at 5:30 am and Bobcat was up since 3:30 am. Having mainly journalists in the premium carriage, we as real customers, enjoyed extra attention from the stewards. The food was great too. The only thing we were missing was a rubbish bin. Zero bins, not even between the carriages. Attendants were trying to collect the rubbish occasionally during the trip, but it wasn’t very well organised.

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Marseille for the first time ever. A taxi driver like in the movies: short and personalised sightseeing tour on the way to the hotel. Big hopes, but the hotel was a bit shabby. It looked though, that ours was not the only one in need of a bit of renovation. The Grand Hotel Beauvau (MGallery Collection by Accor Hotels) has left it’s best days behind, possibly in the 19th century. Picture of writers and composers from this era hanged all around the hotel: telling you about the famous residents of the hotel. To be fair, they are currently doing some renovation works. However, when they know that you are traveling with a baby and you get a smoking room allocated for you, then the air-conditioning is struggling in the early spring weather – that’s no good. The staff was great and old-fashioned polite. Unlike the snobbish Parisians, the people we met here were a lot more relaxed and friendly. The breakfast was superb, huge selection of cheeses and artisan bread – well, I could live on these two alone. Plus some olives maybe.

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We didn’t really stray outside of the old port area and so we never saw the notorious rough parts of the city. It’s big enough anyway for spending 2 days iexploring it. Highlights: cute pop-up market alongside the port for tourists. The smell of fresh fish from the daily fish market in the mornings (I love that, other people might be bothered by that). One of the coolest museums I’ve ever seen: MUCEM is located right in the old fort overlooking the sea with a lovely outdoor cafe. Mussels with fries, obviously and bouillabaise: a Marseillese fish soup. The ferry (named very accurately as Le Ferry Boat) between the two sides of the port, it’s free, and it’s fun (5 minutes ferry ride on a sightseeing boat). The area feels safe, cute little side streets with artsy boutiques and tiny bistros. Watch out for some great street art and performances. Pushing the buggy on the hilly streets can be challenging though 🙂

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I know it’s not completely uncommon, but it’s quite sad to have the worst restaurants in town, a McDonalds, two Irish pubs and a Hard Rock Cafe to be located around the old harbour area, and at the most prominent locations. having a great view to the harbour. Also, not one of the restaurants or bistros could have provided us with a baby feeding chair. Forget baby changing facilities too, better go back to the hotel room. There’s just two acceptable coffee type to order: espresso and noisette, don’t even start to explain to your waiter what cappuccino is. (This rule applies for the whole of France.) Good macaroon shopping options for macaroon junkies, but do try the local Navettes de Marseille biscuits too, flavoured with orange flower or anis. And of course if you’re traveling with more than a hand luggage (I blame you, husband), you can get your year’s supply of useless lavender sachets and more artisan soaps you’ll ever use. And the nautical baby clothes are simply irresistible.

We of course missed a lot, like the cathedral from the inside and the island of Monte Cristo. Needless to say, we will be back.

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