Mink Machine

Marseille 40 years later

So I’m back from a weekend in Marseille and more. The town itself reminded me of Gothenburg and San Francisco. All three have a riverfront, lots of hills, an island fortress and a lot of great seafood restaurants. But I remembered the seedy streets from the 1971 movie “French Connection” and wondered how much it had changed in 40 years.

Quite a lot, it turned out. I passed La Samaritaine near the Vieux Port, where there is a meeting in the beginning of the film. Then walked up the narrow stairs towards Rue des Moulins in the old quarters of Le Panier, following in the footsteps of the unnamed introduction character.

Marseille Daily life in the old quarters of Marseille.

Earlier that day I stood in the tower of Château d’If on the exact spot where Charnier and Devereaux made their sinister plans, exactly 40 years ago.

But I felt none of the grime which emanated from that film. Not very surprising, but still. I remembered reading an old passage about one of the streets, “…where both hearts and noses of sailors have been broken for centuries”. But with the fancy downtown stores and restaurants these days, the most likely thing to break is your credit card limit.

The old quarter is an entirely different party beast at night, but that is another story.

Update: Ok, so nobody’s seen a 40 year-old film? How about Love Actually from 2003 then. The restaurant where Colin Firth proposes to Aurelia is not in Portugal at all, but rather Bar de la Marine in Marseille harbor. Obviously I had to check that out as well.

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