Something most of us discovered at the beginning of our semester, is that most French people who are not Marseillais, do not like Marseille. It smells bad. It’s full of immigrants. There’s no class. There’s dog sh*t EVERYWHERE (Ok, I have to agree, I hate that too. Is there really nothing we can do about that??). Their accent is weird. They love to exaggerate . It may be the oldest and second-biggest city in the country, but who cares. It doesn’t have the classical power and sophistication of Paris. It’s not as quiet and quaint as the rest of Provence. It’s just, “ugh. Mar-say-yeuh." *eye roll*
Well, I am not ashamed to admit: I LOVE MARSEILLE. It is MY city. It is my home away from home away from home. I know the streets, the neighborhoods, I know the restaurants and stores, I know the metro lines, I know the bars and clubs, I know the history, I know the languages, I know the Calanques. I have lived this city, and I have grown quite fond of it. I may sound like a foreigner, but I no longer feel like one. I belong here. I am proud to be here.
I love hearing the Marseille accent (like a southern twang), from my host dad to the cashier at Carrefour to random people in the street. I love turning a corner in Noailles and feeling like I’m in North Africa. I love being able to look down from my house on top of the hill and seeing all the red tile rooftops against the blue blue sky (there are never clouds in Marseille, the wind chases them away). I love walking around Vieux Port, seeing the heart, the birthplace, of the city. I love when I am able to give people directions, or when I successfully interact with a cashier or a waiter. I love having established a routine, yet at the same time always experiencing something new. I love the food, pastis, the tiny expressos the fruit and vegetable markets, that random brass band that shows up around town and covers pop songs. I love the noise. I love the diversity. I love how you can walk for a few minutes and suddenly find yourself on the corniche on the cliffs around the sea.
So, judge away. I won’t hear you because I’ll be busy speaking “Frarabic” and making cultural observations and swimming in the Mediterranean.