Marseille, France — The 2013 European Capital of Culture

In honor of welcoming our first grandchild into the world in January, my ex-husband Rémi met me at the Marseille airport. We toured the city by car and by foot, prior to having lunch on the Vieux Port in the centre of town that had recently undergone apparently a much needed renovation.

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Rémi in Marseille.

The sprucing up of Marseille celebrates the honor that was bestowed on the city this year in being named the European Capital of Culture. With a port full to the brim with boats, and locals and tourists strolling the dock listening to mistrals and perusing the many things for sale at the open-air crafts market, I sensed Marseille as a big village with a slow, charming, multi-cultural population, surrounded by the sea, lots of sunshine, beautiful architecture and cobble-stoned streets. It was easy to imagine why, at the turn of the 20th century, Marseille had become Europe’s second busiest port, after Barcelona, on the Mediterranean Sea, and a refuge for immigrants from throughout Europe and the world.

We celebrated our first night in Anduze with dinner at Rémi’s favorite restaurant Le Cabanon