As I walked along the streets of Marseille, my thoughts went to 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.

Le Panier, Marseille Daily life in the old quarters of Marseille.

Earlier in the day I stood in the tower of Ch√Ęteau d’If on the exact spot where the movie characters Charnier and Devereaux made their sinister plans, exactly 40 years ago. But I felt none of the grime which emanated from the movie. Marseille actually reminded me of Gothenburg and San Francisco. All three have a riverfront, lots of hills, an island fortress and a lot of seafood restaurants.

I remembered reading an old passage about one of the streets, “…where both hearts and noses of sailors have been broken for centuries”. These days, the most likely thing to break is your credit card limit. I guess things have changed for the better.

The old quarter is an entirely different beast at night, but that is another story. Time to go looking for a local pastry called Navettes.


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