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La Jolie Joliette -- Old Marseille

La Jolie Joliette -- Old Marseille

Regular price €65,00 EUR
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The Joliette neighbourhood, situated in Marseille’s second arrondissement (13002), is the site of France’s historic Port of Entry. Tens of thousands of modern (1910-1970) migrants entered France here. Now, quickly becoming the “Soho” of Marseille, the Joliette retains her original and cosmopolitan flavours with distinction. Though the famed Vieux Port (Old Port) has top billing, dating back to 600 BCE, the Joliette is an idyllic locale, filled with a unique bouquet of diverse cultures coexisting with an easy swag and sway.

Our tour begins at Joliette Plaza, the site of several scenes from Harlem Renaissance writer, Claude McKay’s 1929 novel, Banjo. This fast moving story is a must read before arrival. The plaza rests less than a city block away from ultra modern shopping malls, Les Terraces du Port and The Docks Village. The ancient and the modern coexist in efficacious harmony here.

Crossing Joliette Plaza, we enter into ancient Rue Mazenod, known as the people’s port (door/pathway) to La Vieille Major Cathedral, which sits majestically at the end of the short three block street. The current structure dates back to the 12 Century. We ascend the majestic and turning stone staircase to a stunning view of the Joliette Port, the Mediterranean Sea (in the direction of Spain) and Marseille’s most picturesque monuments and museums: Fort Saint Jean, MUCEM-Museum of the Civilizations of Europe and the Mediterranean, La Notre-Dame and Chateau d’If, the touchstone of Alexandre Dumas’ tale, Count of Monte Cristo. L’Esplanade de la Major hosts locals and visitors alike. On warm summer evenings families gather with their locally made pizzas. Salsa classes, often with live music are in full swing. West African drummers and dancers play. At sunset friends gather to toast the sea with bottles of vin rouge.

Our path bends into Le Panier (the basket), Marseille’s oldest residential neighbourhood. More ancient than the Joliette quarter, Le Panier captures the imagination. It’s narrow lanes, cascading staircases, leaning buildings, quaint shops, McKay’s Booty Lane and a taste of black vanilla ice cream are sure to enchant, before descending into the Vieux Port proper via the iconic l’Hôtel Dieu, another memorable set from McKay’s Banjo. Here, the rectangular Vieux Port stretches from East to West like a forefinger of the sea.

The three-hour Jolie Joliette walking tour is an excellent teaser for those who might want to return to this magical, cosmopolitan city for an extended stay. The morning tour (9:30-12:30pm) ends at lunchtime, near a panoply of local restaurants featuring regional cuisine. The afternoon tour (2:00-5:00pm) winds up during l’apéro. The French cocktail hour is an ideal opportunity to get a touch and feel for the locals at one of the many watering holes along Rue de la Republique, le Vieux Port or along the quay (embarcadero) over a Marseille spritz and panisse.

The Jolie Joliette-Old Marseille is a promising experience for all.
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