On the first of October 2017, a random guy with a knife walked into Marseille’s Saint Charles train station and stabbed two women to death. The attacker was later shot by French soldiers. He died on the spot.
That was two weeks before my trip to Marseille. I didn’t know about this incident at all, until after Marseille we reached Paris and my friend told me about that. Of course, I was shocked, but on the bright side, the ‘not knowing’ made me see the city with a very open mind.
It’s a shame that as a Former French language student, I almost forgot about Marseille’s notorious trait. I barely remember that I was told it was a dangerous place, because the view of the Vieux Port from my room at Intercontinental Hotel Le Dieu was so breathtaking that made my heart skips a beat. I have to tell you that this hotel really has the best view of the city as they have claimed. I love La Cite Radieuse by Le Corbusier not only because of its colorful design but also because of the ingenious idea of the architect himself who mattered the quality of life more than anything else. From the outside, the posh MUSEM looked very inviting that I would love to be again if destiny permits. And although the city dubbed ‘the city with more than 350 days of sunshine’ decided to welcome us with the rain, that didn’t reduce the charm because the summer spirit was still there.
But what I love the most was the Memorial des Repartries located by the sea. From 1950s, Marseille welcomed endless influx of immigrants, especially from Algeria, and this memorial was built to remind of them. “Notre ville est la votre”… our city is your city. That phrase really touched my heart.
And then I realized why Marseille has been notorious for all along. The city has been a melting pot since the ancient times. But what do you expect from a once Greek city, colonized by the Romans, now located in France? Before the concept of cities and countries, aren’t we all the melting pot for all along too?