Marseille

Marseille is the second largest city in France. It is located on the Mediterranean sea and has a long history of hosting new immigrants. It has been an important city since it was inhabited by Ancient Greeks due to its strategically located ports. Houses in the city are crowded together along the waterfront. It is a bustling and often grimy city with beautiful seafront views. People seemed to me to be friendly, but a bit tougher. Life just appeared to move a bit faster in Marseilles.  Influences from Italian, North African, and many other cultures were prevalent.

Tourist tips:

  • Driving in Marseille was difficult. It is particularly not recommended for someone who lives outside of a big city. Drivers tend to be a bit more affressive in this part of France, but streets are narrow and crowded. Consider alternative options.
  • Always carry a copy of your passport, some cash, and an extra credit card in a separate location. My wallet went missing in Marseilles and this saved me!
  • Visit the soap museum and get a personalized soap (you will get to help make it). And ask the curator questions! He loves talking about his craft.

Local Food: Aioli

When you order Aioli in Marseille it includes potatoes, vegetables drizzled with olive oil, salt cod, hard boiled eggs, salted cod, perhaps some other sea food, and garlic mayonnaise sauce. It was a tasty feast!

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History:

See post on Marseille History Museum

Famous product: Soap

My favorite part of visiting Marseille was visiting the soap museum. The man who worked there was so excited about his craft. I believe he created the museum out of his own collection and research. Marseille has been making soap for hunderds of years. They became especially famous for their high quality soaps during the 1700s. They figured out a new process for making the soda in the soap and they used olive oil to create their soaps. As the curator explained, soap was not invented in Marseille, but they did a lot to improve the industry. Lavender which grows in the region of Provence is processed using a steam technique and used as a popular scent in the soap.

Soap making today:

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Old fashioned soap press:

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Before the bars are pressed:

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The use of olive oil and a new technique for making soda helped ensure high quality soap in Marseille!

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Lavender from the Provence region is often used in the soap.

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This is how laundry used to be cleaned using Marseille soap. Not an easy task!

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Antique Marseille soap materials:

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The history of soap in Marseille:

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For next time:

  • Visit the Santons museum
  • Spend more time walking around the old section of the city
  • Try a St-Tropizienne
  • Play Petanque
  • Make personalized soap at the museum

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