In the 7 years since my arrival, most of my trips to Marseille centre ville were fairly traumatic:
There was the saga of the carte de sejour to begin the process with innumerable goose chases hither and yon to hammer down all of the gophers and jump through all the hoops until I had that little card in my hand - at which time I could take a breather for a year before I had to plan to do it all over again.
After that came the working papers. This time Paris stuck her nose in things and gave me an official-looking list of things to do and an equally official-looking list of addresses at which I was to do them.
I started out in good faith, but often upon arrival I was met by someone looking at my list and shaking their head and pointing in another direction while scribbling a new phone number on a scrap of paper with their free hand. So would begin the next leg of the chase. (On one such day, I figured I'd at least treat myself to lunch as long as I was in town but of course, it was two o'clock and there was not a crumb of lunch to be found. Too late. Some things are really organized here - like lunch time. But the working papers process? Not so much.)
It was unnerving to say the least. On some days I wondered how it was that anyone actually ever received their bloody working papers as it takes months, literally, to figure out the first step...and a few more to figure out where to take it.
More than once I mused that it would have been easier had I been born knowing how to operate in a country that is clearly led by people who have all been trained by the Keystone Cops. (Okay, admittedly, that's a bit harsh...but there were days, let me tell you!)
Aside from a feeble attempt to share this city (the oldest in France) with my sister while she was here (a visit in which I may as well have tied a fashionable scarf around my eyes as I stepped off the bus and wandered around blindly with my arms outstretched and locked straight in front of me for all the good I was as a guide for my poor baby sis'!) I just haven't set foot in the place for fun...until a few weeks ago.
A friend of mine, who now lives in Aix, lived in Marseille for many years and she knows it so well she actually could tie a fashionable scarf around her eyes to walk around the place. I'm convinced she would never miss a step!
I just loved turning the corner to see this magnificent structure against an evening sky. (Okay, I admit. I may have been under the influence of just scoring that fabulous jacket and shirt...but still...)
This lovely 19th century gem still beams proudly with its original architecture. The Spanish clothing store, Mango, now resides here - in what has become one of the hottest shopping areas in town.
I think I might just grow to like this place...as long as I don't have to do any official business there
Yours in discovering new corners and re-covering from old traumas,