Hated Pastis, Loved Marseilles

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Marseille had my love the second we came out of the metro at Vieux Port. The city is charming and a little grungy, which makes it even more charming, and as a port city you get that very Mediterranean feel. We had quite the journey to get there from Nice due to the strikes with the trains in early June. What was supposed to be a two and half hour train ride turned into a seven hour trip. We showed up at the train station for our 9 AM direct train and it was cancelled. The next train was at 6:15 pm; that didn’t work with our schedule. Luckily you could hop on the train going to Paris and then switch at Toulon and then get on the train to Marseilles. We had a fabulous tartare de saumon lunch though so guess it was worth it?

We also learned about Bla Bla Car and did that instead of the train on the way back to Nice. It is basically Uber but for longer distances. Definitely look it up if you are in Europe; cheaper and quicker than  trains!

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There are two train stations labeled Marseilles so we of course got off at the wrong one and then had to take the metro. Turns out though the metro is really easy to navigate; we went the wrong way only once.

We rented an Airbnb and you can see how beautiful our view was below! Our first excursion on the trip was to try pastis. We took advice for a bar from our good pal Anthony Bourdain and went to Bar de la Plaine. The bar was a cool bar but not sure it is worth going out of your way for but what for sure isn’t worth going out of your way for is pastis. It is the worst drink I have ever had. Some people say I am a dramatic person but let me tell you I am not being dramatic. Becky who is a helpless romantic said that if she had to choose between being single for the rest of her life or drinking this drink again she doesn’t know which she would pick; like I said the worst.

Pastis is a anise flavored aperitif from France and is a very popular drink in Marseilles. It tastes like black licorice and aspartame and it coats your mouth. It is served in a ratio of one part pastis to four parts water—which to me is not diluted enough. I may be hating on it but it is an experience so check it out. We then went to the Cours Julien area aka Cours Ju and had rosé and cheese.

Our next excursion was to try bouillabaisse. This stew originated in Marseilles and was created by the fisherman with different fish they couldn’t sell that day. It is served with rouille which is basically an aioli with saffron and cayenne pepper and grilled bread. We tried to go to Michel (pictured below) but what I had forgotten about good old France is you need reservations. The red medal door you can see in the picture was actually locked and they only talked to us through the gate and told us, no though there were lots of open tables we could see. It was like there was a cool party we couldn’t get into; a cool yummy fish stew party.

We ended up at another place where we were able to get bouillabaisse, rouille, and oysters…oh and more rosé.

We drank more rosé at L’Alimentation Générale which was a really cool bar pretty close to our Airbnb. If you can’t tell we drank a lot of rosé on this trip.

We spent the next day in Cassis (post to follow).

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