View of the Vieux-Port and Marseille from Notre-Dame (bonne-mère)
View of the Vieux-Port and Marseille from Notre-Dame (bonne-mère)

Well, it’s definitely well into September, kids are back at school, life should get back to normal. August is long gone. I did a ‘French special’ and took the whole month off. Joy.

So, how was Le Sud this year? As gorgeous as ever. Non-stop sunshine, empty-ish beaches: avoid St Tropez or Cavalaire and head for the long stretch of the Giens peninsula near Hyères. Park the car in the free car park, walk a bit and you won’t feel like a sardine in a tin of sand. Joy. Again. Wonderful catch-up with the family.

This year I rediscovered Marseille with its Borsalino steps (from the eponymous French film with Delon and Belmondo) and its totally OTT cathedral. ‘The good mother’ -la bonne mère- is quite unlike any other French cathedral with its ex-votos galore (boats hanging from the ceiling, gold, plaques and all sorts of thank you’s from sailors thanking Mary for keeping them -or their family- alive and well. A real beauty although a ridiculously busy one in August. As can be expected. The views from the hill are all 360 degrees over Marseille and well worth the climb.

Back along the harbour you may wonder why French tourists walk passed the ‘Ferry-Boat’ sign sounding more like a toad than a frog. You need to have seen the film Marius and you’ll understand why they say ‘feri-boh-atte’ repeatedly and loudly. The Marseille accent is unlike any other accent – just like la bonne mère – it sings, is filled with sunshine and entices people to tell tall stories. Have you seen any of the Pagnol films (Jean de Florette, Manon des Sources, le Chateau de ma mère…)? No!  There is a gap in your life that needs filling. If you’re reading this, you must be a francophile, and if you are, then you will love Pagnol.

A bientot, may the sunshine be with you!

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