Transcript for Episode 454: Adventures of a Solo Woman in Marseille

Table of Contents for this Episode

Discussed in this Episode

  • Going to the Calanques by city bus
  • Visiting Notre Dame de la Garde Basilica
  • Staying in the Bompard neighborhood
  • Le Petit Nice Hotel and beach
  • The Vauban neighborhoods

[00:00:00] Annie Sargent: This is Join Us in France episode 454, quatre cent cinquante-quatre.

[00:00:23] Annie Sargent: Bonjour, I’m Annie Sargent and Join Us in France is the podcast where we talk about France, everyday life in France, great places to visit in France, French culture, history, gastronomy and news related to travel to France.

Today on the podcast: Adventures of a Solo Woman in Marseille

[00:00:37] Annie Sargent: Today, I bring you a trip report with Eva Jorgensen about visiting Marseille as a solo woman.

[00:00:44] Annie Sargent: Marseille gets a bad rap, but it’s entirely possible to find jewels in this diverse and vibrant city, which is the second largest city in France, as Eva explains.

Podcast supporters

[00:00:58] Annie Sargent: This podcast is supported by donors and listeners who buy my tours and services, including my Itinerary Consult Service and my GPS self-guided tours of Paris on the VoiceMap app.

[00:01:10] Annie Sargent: And you can browse all of that at my boutique And if you just want to read the details about the tours, get reviews and so forth, go to

The magazine part of the podcast

[00:01:25] Annie Sargent: For the magazine part of the podcast, after the interview today, I’ll discuss my battle with learning Spanish and perhaps share some tips about language learning in my fifties, which feels like a very different exercise than learning a foreign language in my teens and early twenties.

[00:01:43] Annie Sargent: I will also do a quick update about the Olympics coming up in Paris Summer 2024.

[00:01:49] Annie Sargent: It’s not going to be very long because it’s August and not a lot is happening, but I’ll mention the helicopter taxis that will make their debut in the sky in Paris for the Olympics.


Annie Sargent and Eva Jorgensen interview

[00:02:09] Annie Sargent: Bonjour Eva Jorgensen and welcome to Join us in France.

[00:02:13] Eva Jorgensen: Bonjour Annie. It’s so nice to be here.

[00:02:15] Annie Sargent: Lovely to have you. Today, we want to talk about your solo trip to Marseille, at least the part including Marseille you were by yourself. This was a bigger trip that you did with a few girlfriends, right?

[00:02:29] Eva Jorgensen: Yep. And then I took off on my own for a few days in Marseille.

[00:02:33] Annie Sargent: So overall, what did you think about Marseille and when were you there?

[00:02:37] Eva Jorgensen: I was there, let’s see, it was right at the end of September, beginning of October.

[00:02:42] Annie Sargent: Of 2022?

The light and the topography in Marseille

[00:02:44] Eva Jorgensen: Yes. And it was beautiful. It was such a beautiful time of year to be there. The first thing that hit me was the light, the light and the topography. Because I wasn’t expecting it, for some reason, I wasn’t expecting it to be so hilly.

[00:02:58] Eva Jorgensen: All these hills and cliffs going down into the ocean and it was just so beautiful, the scenery. And then the way the light reflected off of those hills and all the buildings and everything from the ocean, it was pretty incredible.

[00:03:11] Annie Sargent: They do say there is something about that light in Provence that is nowhere else. It’s really special.

[00:03:17] Annie Sargent: And Marseille is a large city, right? So a lot of people are, you know, if they’re a bit intimidated by large cities, of course if they’re going to go to a large city in France, they go to Paris.

[00:03:29] Annie Sargent: Right.

[00:03:31] Eva Jorgensen: Right.

[00:03:31] Annie Sargent: And you had been to Paris several times as well?

[00:03:34] Eva Jorgensen: Yes, I’ve been to Paris many times.

[00:03:36] Annie Sargent: You’re familiar with France, perhaps you speak the language as well?

[00:03:39] Eva Jorgensen: Not perfectly, but I can get by.

What inspired your trip to Marseille?

[00:03:41] Annie Sargent: Yeah, yeah. Okay. So you decided to take this lovely trip with your girlfriends and you went to Provence together, we might get to that at the end. But then you wanted to take a few days by yourself in Marseille.

[00:03:55] Annie Sargent: First of all, what inspired that?

[00:03:58] Eva Jorgensen: Well, I’ve been to Provence several times and I’ve never been to Marseille and I’d always been intrigued by it. And then the year before this trip, so in the fall of 2021, I did go to Provence and I just came in, I think I must have come in by train into the central train station in Marseille, and from there needed to get to the airport and I was having trouble finding the correct train.

[00:04:23] Eva Jorgensen: And so finally I just took a taxi. I ended up being glad that I did because I got in that taxi ride, I got to see just a little taste of Marseille from this train station up to the airport. And again, it was that light and that, the topography, the landscape, even the architecture. It was all so beautiful and intriguing to me.

[00:04:42] Eva Jorgensen: And I just decided I wanted to come back and see Marseille. I wasn’t able to on that trip, but I wanted to come back. And so the following year when I had another trip down to Provence, after the almost a week up in the Provence countryside with my girlfriends, I decided to just take a few days for myself and go to Marseille and check it out.

[00:05:01] Eva Jorgensen: And also I just kind of wanted a relaxing, I’d been traveling for a while and I knew I’d be kind of tired and I just wanted a few quiet days to myself. And I know Marseille doesn’t seem like the obvious place to go for that, but I think it was because I was also so curious to explore this city, but also I know it’s right on the ocean.

[00:05:20] Eva Jorgensen: And so I thought, well, I can just get a hotel that’s near the beach and if I want to just go to the beach every day.

[00:05:26] Annie Sargent: Yeah, so did you do that?

Great walks (even if it’s hilly!)

[00:05:27] Eva Jorgensen: I did, I did. I think I did end up at least walking along the beach every day. But I also saw other things in the city. And it is really great how the city is right on the ocean, so it’s really accessible from many different neighborhoods to get to some kind of a beach or the corniche, which is the kind of the road and the pathway that go all along the ocean for quite a way.

[00:05:51] Annie Sargent: Yeah, so it’s like a, well other people might call it a boardwalk, but it’s not a walk, it’s a drive. So it’s a drive along the coast, which we have in a lot of towns in France, you can actually, usually without too much trouble, you can drive along the coast a long way. You can see a lot of the coast that way.

[00:06:11] Annie Sargent: And of course there’s always signs trying to divert you back into the main roads, but if you are persistent, you can do it that way.

[00:06:19] Eva Jorgensen: And I didn’t have a car, so I wasn’t driving, but I stayed in a hotel that was maybe a five minute walk from the corniche actually, and the beach there. So I could just walk down and walk along. There are walking pathways along that road as well, so you can walk or rent a bike or rent a scooter and go along that pathway that goes along the ocean.

[00:06:42] Eva Jorgensen: So yeah, I did that and it was just beautiful because you can see so far up and down the coast. And to the southern end of Marseille, there are beautiful cliffs in the Calanques that go down into the ocean, and you can see that all along the corniche.

[00:06:57] Annie Sargent: Right, so did you make it all the way to the Calanques?

The Bus system in Marseille

[00:07:00] Eva Jorgensen: I did on one day. I decided to try to figure out the bus system. And I took a bus down to all the very, like as far south, I’m pretty sure, I think I went on the last bus, like as far south as you could go on the Marseille city buses. And it takes you all the way down to the Calanques at the very southern edge of Marseille, which honestly doesn’t even feel like you’re in a big city anymore.

[00:07:26] Eva Jorgensen: Instead, it just feels like you’re in these little fishing villages and it’s really charming. And I think maybe when people, you know, some people don’t like Marseille or say they think they don’t like Marseille for many reasons, I think maybe some of those people don’t realize that you could spend the whole time in Marseille in these little quaint little fishing villages in the southern end of the city, and it doesn’t even feel like a big city. You can just go to the beach, swim in the water, and it wasn’t that crowded, there weren’t that many people.

[00:07:56] Annie Sargent:

Is Marseille a dangerous city?

[00:07:56] Annie Sargent: It’s interesting what you just said because, just today we are recording this, I just heard that President Macron is spending three days in Marseille because he has this idea that he would like to revitalize the city of Marseille and make it more like Barcelona.

[00:08:16] Annie Sargent: So, you know, Barcelona is the second largest city in Spain. It’s very vibrant. Lots of industry, lots of things happening. Marseille is more difficult as a city, even though it is the second largest city in France. It is more, it has, at least people who go there superficially say, you know, there’s problem, it’s not so clean, there’s crime and there’s definitely areas where you do not want to go around Marseille.

[00:08:48] Annie Sargent: So the President wants to just shine the light on Marseille and bring more investment, bring more economic activity to the city. And I think it’s going to make a huge difference if he manages to do that, because it does need a little bit of a revitalization, I think. What was your feeling about it?

[00:09:06] Eva Jorgensen: Yeah, I could see that. I just had a few days there, three or four days, and so like I said, I wanted to relax, I was at the water, the beach a lot, which was amazing. But I did venture into the city some and go see some shops in different sites and I loved it, but I definitely was aware of what people say.

[00:09:24] Eva Jorgensen: I was aware of, you know, safety concerns in certain parts of the city. So, you know, there were just parts of the city that I didn’t go to, but that’s pretty much the same in most big cities like this, like New York City, there would be parts of the city that I wouldn’t go to probably .

[00:09:38] Annie Sargent: Or San Francisco or Paris or you know, all the big cities, they have bad neighborhoods and it’s kind of sad to put a label of bad neighborhood. But as a visitor, it’s not your job to make it better. You’re just there to enjoy a relaxing time and you just don’t want to mess with these areas where the more, you know, I don’t want to be in the middle of a drug bust, it’s not for you to, you know, no, don’t, don’t, just don’t. So it does get this vibe of dangerous city that people say, I don’t think, I think this has more to do with media portrayals. There’s a Marseille series where it’s just crime. So people get this and, you know, perhaps it’s outdated stereotypes, but there are still parts of the city where you don’t want to go. And those are the unsafe neighborhoods.

[00:10:33] Eva Jorgensen: But that’s really like any other city, you know? So just like, as a solo woman traveler, going to any large city, I would just kind of be aware of which areas I want to stick to and which areas I want to be more careful around or maybe not go to. And so I did that, it was perfectly fine, I felt perfectly safe the entire time.

Bompard Neighborhood

[00:10:53] Eva Jorgensen: I stayed in the neighborhood called Bompard, so it’s a little bit out of the city center, but not very far. There were buses you could take to get into the city or just walk or take a taxi. And it worked out great. And I didn’t have a car, I was just, you know, like I said, public transport, walking.

[00:11:10] Annie Sargent: Is Bompard near the south end of the city or was it in a different area?

[00:11:14] Eva Jorgensen: No, it’s actually pretty close to the old port, you know, is kind of the center of the city that people talk about. Bompard is just maybe a 20 to 30 minute walk south of that. So that’s really like the city itself goes much, much further. When I was talking about the Calanques, those were at least a 30 minute, like a 30 minute bus ride.

[00:11:35] Annie Sargent: Okay. So much further, yeah. So, in Marseille, the things to do is to go to the Le Vieux Port, then you have the art museum, I don’t know if you made it to the art museum.

[00:11:45] Eva Jorgensen: I didn’t make it there, no, because this is more my, I love art museums and I know I have to go back, but because this was just my relaxing getaway at the end, I didn’t worry too much about going to museums. It was more about just exploring neighborhoods and going to the beach, which was great.

Cosquer Cave

[00:12:00] Annie Sargent: Yeah. The other thing that stands out in Marseille is the Cosquer Cave, the reproduction of the painted cave.

[00:12:07] Eva Jorgensen: That’s supposed to be amazing, yeah. And is that the one that is underwater, too?

[00:12:12] Annie Sargent: Right, so the original is underwater, but the reproduction is not, the reproduction is not very far from the Modern Art Museum. It’s in that very highly visited kind of part of the city, which is completely safe and very pleasant to walk around. Then the other area that’s very nice is the Basilica. I’m sure you went.

The Notre Dame de la Garde Basilique

[00:12:34] Eva Jorgensen: I did go there. That was pretty close to my hotel, like a 15 or 20 minute walk. So through up and down hills, like this very charming, hilly residential neighborhood. And so I walked up there, it ended up being a Sunday. And so I walked in and I went inside to see inside the Basilica with all the other tourists, and it’s just beautiful.

[00:12:56] Eva Jorgensen: They have all these model ships that are hanging from the ceiling, which is really charming. And while I was in there, I noticed that all the tourists were leaving, and Mass was about to start.

[00:13:07] Eva Jorgensen: So they said, you know, you can stay if you want, but you just need to sit, of course, sit respectfully during the Mass and not just keep wandering around.

[00:13:15] Eva Jorgensen: So I decided why not? I just, spur of the moment, I just decided to sit down and be there for it. And I’m not Catholic, I’m not super familiar with the Mass, but it was beautiful. It was interesting to see and it was nice that they allowed, just whoever wanted to be able to stay and listen.

[00:13:31] Annie Sargent: Was there a big attendance in the Basilica? I would assume that a Basilica would get quite a few parishioners.

[00:13:36] Eva Jorgensen: Yeah, it did actually. Because probably it’s the most well-known Basilica church in Marseille, I’m sure. So, yeah, it was well attended and it was a very nice, it was a very nice experience. It was in French and probably some Latin that I wasn’t understanding, but I could follow along a little bit with some of what was going on.

[00:13:55] Eva Jorgensen: And they passed out little flyers so you could read and follow along.

[00:13:58] Eva Jorgensen: And then the view up there from around the cathedral was just incredible. You can see all over Marseille, the islands to the downtown city, everything. There’s this famous soccer field or football field, that’s just below the Basilica, kind of built into the cliff with a high rise apartment building next to it.

[00:14:19] Eva Jorgensen: It’s really picturesque and amazing and you can see that and the city behind and everything. So definitely, just worth it to go see the view, to see the beautiful Basilica.

[00:14:30] Annie Sargent: Yeah, so the Basilica is called Notre Dame de la Garde and has this beautiful golden Virgin Mary on top.

[00:14:39] Eva Jorgensen: And stripes, like black and white stripes, which is pretty distinctive on the outside of the building.

[00:14:44] Annie Sargent: Yes. It has this a little bit oriental feel to it. I’ll post some photos of it. It really is a striking place. And the inside has lots of gold and, you know, it’s almost byzantine kind of style of church. It is very beautiful. Now it’s on top of the rock, so getting up there is not as easy as walking around the old port.

[00:15:08] Eva Jorgensen: It was a hike, it was a hike. I walked up there and it was definitely quite a hike to get up there, which I didn’t mind, I liked that, but I did see that there were little tourist trams that you could take up there. If you prefer not to hike, you can get a ride on one of these little trams that will take you up there.

Tourist trains

[00:15:23] Annie Sargent: Like the little tourist trains is what I call them, and which I take them sometimes. So don’t get me wrong, these are fine, especially if you only have a few hours, you know, you take the tourist train and you get off if it’s an on and off thing, it’s pretty good actually, because you get off at all the interesting things. And a few hours later you’ve seen, you know, the highlights of the city, which is great. There’s also city buses that will take you up there if you are willing to figure out the city bus system. And Marseille has a really good public transportation, just like the rest of France.

[00:15:56] Eva Jorgensen: Yeah. I have to say, when I took the bus down to the Calanque, I was a little nervous, like, oh, is this going to be tricky, hard to figure out? Sometimes buses can be hard to figure out, but it honestly wasn’t that bad. I just looked it up on Google Maps I think, and I just went to the bus stop and waited and paid on the bus for the ticket.

[00:16:13] Eva Jorgensen: It was easy.

[00:16:14] Annie Sargent: Yeah. Yeah. So on a bus you don’t want to show up with a 50 euro bill. You want to have a 10, or a 5 or, yeah, smaller bills. And if you have exact change, they prefer that, of course, it’s faster. But yeah, most buses in France, they will sell you a ticket right on the bus. It might be to discourage people buying tickets right on the bus, which keeps the driver busy. They might give you a discount if you buy outside of the bus, you know, if you buy online or if you buy, sometimes at the bus stops, you can buy tickets, sometimes not. It just depends on exactly where you are. But yeah, that’s a really good way to get around in a city like Marseille.

Friendly driver

[00:16:52] Eva Jorgensen: Yeah, I would recommend it. And even the bus driver that took me to the Calanque at the very end, he was so friendly. There was just me and two other tourists on the bus when we got to the very last, Calanque.

[00:17:04] Annie Sargent: So he knows he’s taking tourists to the Calanques.

[00:17:06] Eva Jorgensen: He knows. And because it was the very, it was a, and this was a mini bus at that point, like a small, like half size bus.

[00:17:13] Eva Jorgensen: And because it was the end of the line and he had to wait for about 10 minutes before turning around and going back the other direction, he got out and he said, let me take your pictures. And he basically acted as a photographer and told us where to pose with the Calanque in the background, and took all these photos of us and he insisted.

[00:17:34] Annie Sargent: Ah, that’s fun.

[00:17:35] Eva Jorgensen: It was really charming.

[00:17:37] Annie Sargent: You know, it’s better than standing there and doing nothing for 10 minutes, so yeah.

[00:17:42] Eva Jorgensen: Right.

[00:17:43] Annie Sargent: It’s more entertaining for him too.

[00:17:45] Annie Sargent: Oh, that’s cool. Could he speak some English?

[00:17:47] Eva Jorgensen: I think he, let’s see, I think he did speak a little English.

[00:17:51] Annie Sargent: Yeah, yeah. Right. So just to finish up our list, and I know we, we got off of it, but our list of things that people say are not fun about Marseille, they say it’s dirty and rundown, and of course some parts of it is dirty and rundown. Some areas are not as wealthy as others. This is true in every city.

[00:18:09] Eva Jorgensen: But there’s a lot of beauty and charm too, you know?

[00:18:13] Annie Sargent: Yes.

[00:18:13] Eva Jorgensen: So it really, that didn’t really, it didn’t bother me , at least the areas I was in, I didn’t really notice or think that it seemed dirty or run down.

[00:18:20] Annie Sargent: No, no, I mean, for the most part it’s not going to be striking, but it just depends on what you’re used to as well. You know, it depends where you live to begin with and all of that. Some people say, you know, there’s high poverty rates, and it’s true. That’s like I mentioned earlier, some of Marseille needs to be kind of gentrified and you know, helped along somehow. In France, we don’t do gentrification the way Americans do, but we have a lot of associations that bring business into the areas and try to help that way.

Marseille has a rich history

[00:18:51] Annie Sargent: Some people say it’s only a port city, so that’s boring. And I’m like, no, no, Marseille has like a long history. We did a whole episode about the history of Marseille with Elyse, is one of the early episodes that we published, and it has a really long history. And as a matter of fact, you cannot learn about the Plague, the history of the major plagues that have come through Europe without Marseille.

[00:19:16] Annie Sargent: A lot of them went through there, you know?

[00:19:18] Eva Jorgensen: It’s a fascinating history. That’s true.

[00:19:20] Annie Sargent: Yeah. it’s really interesting. Some people say the residents are aggressive. Did you find anybody who was aggressive?

[00:19:27] Eva Jorgensen: No, no. Everyone I came into contact with was very friendly, so I didn’t see that.

[00:19:33] Annie Sargent: I think if you don’t go looking for aggressive, you’re not going to find it. Honestly, it just depends what you do. Like. Yeah. I think Marseille is just like anywhere else. People are mostly friendly, and if you stick to the areas that are interesting to tourists, why would anybody be aggressive to tourists?

[00:19:50] Annie Sargent: And there’s also people who say, oh, why go to Marseille?

Culture and Museums in Marseille

[00:19:52] Annie Sargent: The cultural offerings are limited, whatever, and that is absolutely not true. There are some fabulous museums in Marseille, if you want museums.

[00:20:01] Eva Jorgensen: There are.

[00:20:02] Eva Jorgensen: There are, I was looking at them all, researching them all, and I know I need to go back to see them. I was busy in those three days, just like I said, with different beaches, with different shops, with restaurants. But I could have spent easily several more days, if not more, just going to the different museums and things like that.

[00:20:20] Annie Sargent: Of course if you are into literature, you have heard of Alexandre Dumas, and Château d’If is a major plot area in Marseille. Did you take a boat ride to the Château d’If or no?

[00:20:34] Eva Jorgensen: No, no, I didn’t. I didn’t. It was really, I can go over some of the great places that I did go to, but I didn’t hit those, except for the Basilica. I didn’t hit those huge, the most known tourist things, because I wanted a more mellow under the radar kind of experience.

Places Eva enjoyed in Marseille

[00:20:53] Annie Sargent: So tell us about the places you did go that you enjoyed.

[00:20:56] Eva Jorgensen: Okay. Well, one feature I wanted to point out besides going to the Calanque, which we talked about, which are incredible and I definitely recommend.

[00:21:03] Annie Sargent: You can take a boat from the port of Marseille to the Calanque if you want, so you can take like an hour or two hour ride along to the Calanque.

La Petit Nice

[00:21:12] Eva Jorgensen: Yes, I would definitely recommend that.

[00:21:13] Eva Jorgensen: I did that from Cassis and that was incredible. I’m sure it’s very similar from the Port of Marseille. But there’s a little beach, a rocky beach, so a lot of the beach when you’re closer to the city, part of Marseille is more like rocks along the beach.

[00:21:28] Eva Jorgensen: But there’s some great spots. And one that I found, which was near my hotel that was really great was, it’s the rocky part, right under a hotel called Le Petit Nice.

[00:21:38] Eva Jorgensen: So that’s a famous hotel in Marseille, like an old fancy hotel right on the water, and the rocks on the beach underneath the hotel are open to the public.

[00:21:47] Eva Jorgensen: So it’s a great, it’s a great spot to just go bring a towel, lay out on the rock, and then you can jump in the water and go swimming from there. And very charming and picturesque. And you can kind of look down the coast and see more cliffs and things. And it was a great spot.

[00:22:03] Annie Sargent: Yeah, that sounds like fun.

[00:22:04] Eva Jorgensen: If you just find that hotel, Le Petit Nice, it’s pretty easy to kind of just see, follow the pathway down to the rocks.

[00:22:12] Annie Sargent: Excellent. Very good.

Little ports. Anse de Maldorme and the Anse de Malmousque

[00:22:14] Eva Jorgensen: And then there’s some charming little ports right along there. There’s one that’s called the Anse de Maldorme, and the Anse de Malmousque.

[00:22:24] Eva Jorgensen: I don’t know what Anse means.

[00:22:25] Annie Sargent: You know, “une anse” is a, like it’s a curved…

[00:22:29] Eva Jorgensen: Like a cove?

[00:22:30] Annie Sargent: Yes, that’s how we would translate it, because la anse is like the, if you have a basket, it’s something circular that you use to hold something.

[00:22:40] Annie Sargent: So It’s going to be a cove, yes.

[00:22:42] Eva Jorgensen: Okay, so those two coves, which are pretty close to this Petit Nice Hotel, are just really charming, like if you picture a little picturesque, beautiful little fishing cove in Marseille, that’s, these are great ones to look at. And, you know, you could bring a picnic. I found a spot along the road, just above the Petit Nice there’s a road that has a bunch of little shops and businesses, and I just found a random pizza place around there, got a pizza, went down to the one of these little, the Anse de Malmousque, I think, and just sat there at sunset and ate my pizza for dinner one night.

[00:23:18] Eva Jorgensen: And that was great. I mean, just so simple and it was so enjoyable. I loved it.

[00:23:23] Annie Sargent: Yeah, that’s wonderful.

The Vauban neighborhood

[00:23:25] Eva Jorgensen: And back to the Basilica, I was going to say, there’s a neighborhood right below the Basilica that’s worth going to. It’s called, let’s see, it’s called Vauban.

[00:23:37] Eva Jorgensen:

[00:23:37] Annie Sargent: Right, because it’s part of the Vauban fortifications.

[00:23:40] Eva Jorgensen: It’s an area that has some cute little restaurants and shops.

[00:23:43] Eva Jorgensen: I guess you’d say been maybe gentrified a little bit where it feels a little hip, it feels a little hipster or something. I ended up going there after the Mass on Sunday and getting brunch at this little place called Carlotta With. And they had a little terrace and it was just a very nice, charming atmosphere on this charming little street.

[00:24:03] Eva Jorgensen: And that’s worth it if people are interested in just exploring something that’s more like a normal, a real neighborhood that people live in, but also has some charming things to visit. That was a great place. And I ended up walking further up that road and I happened on a party that the church was throwing, it turned out. You couldn’t miss it because there was this brass band, so you could hear the music throughout the neighborhood. And I was kind of just following the music, like, what is this? And then I turned the corner and I looked, and there was this courtyard in front of this building that had picnic tables set up and people were eating and people were dancing and listening to the music.

[00:24:40] Eva Jorgensen: And I saw the priest from the Mass was there dancing. And it was just like this neighborhood Sunday afternoon party, and it was so charming…

[00:24:50] Annie Sargent: That’s cool.

[00:24:51] Eva Jorgensen: …to see that. So I think it’s definitely worth just kind of wandering around the neighborhood afterwards.

[00:24:56] Annie Sargent: The Vauban neighborhood. Oh, that’s cool, and what was the name of the restaurant you said?

[00:25:00] Eva Jorgensen: It was called Carlotta With.

[00:25:02] Annie Sargent: With?

[00:25:03] Eva Jorgensen: Don’t know why, but the word ‘with’.

[00:25:06] Annie Sargent: Okay, Carlotta With, okay.


La Bonne Mere is also a French expression of surprise

[00:25:08] Eva Jorgensen: And actually, there was a pizza place there that’s supposed to be amazing called La Bonne Mère, that I didn’t get to go to, but it’s supposed to be amazing.

[00:25:16] Annie Sargent: A lot of things are called La Bonne Mère in Marseille. La Bonne Mère, this is something they say. In English, I don’t know, you say, oh my goodness. Well, in Marseille they say: Oh, Bonne Mère, it’s like a local, yeah, it’s just a local silly.

[00:25:33] Eva Jorgensen: Oh, I like that.

[00:25:34] Annie Sargent: But that’s the Good Mother. So of course, it’s Mother Mary, the Virgin Mary, is what it’s referring to. It’s kind of expletive, but it’s not rude, or mean, or anything. It’s like, Oh Bonne Mere!

[00:25:49] Eva Jorgensen: Oh, I like that.

[00:25:51] Eva Jorgensen: Now that you heard it, you’ll hear it a million times, they say this. Probably the older folks, though. I’m sure the young hip people don’t, they try to avoid that.

[00:26:01] Eva Jorgensen: Oh, okay. Okay.

Maison Empereur.

[00:26:03] Eva Jorgensen: Well, another great neighborhood to go to that has a lot of a concentration of things that I think people would like to visit is, it’s not far from the old port, it’s just up from there. And there’s a store called Maison Empereur.

[00:26:18] Annie Sargent: Okay.

[00:26:18] Eva Jorgensen: Which is like a home goods store and also kind of a hardware store and a general store all in one.

[00:26:27] Eva Jorgensen: It’s really cool and very unique. It’s two levels and it’s wood everywhere, like wood paneling, it feels very, very charming and very old fashioned, like it’s been there forever. And I think it has been there a very long time. And so you can buy anything from like drawer poles to, I bought some pillowcases for my bed.

[00:26:52] Eva Jorgensen: I bought these little wooden egg cups that you put, for hard boiled eggs, in all different colors. And then they have a lot of fun toys, like old fashioned toys and things for kids. If you have kids, it would be a great place to go. That was an amazing store. I would definitely recommend that for anyone who goes to Marseille.

L’Ideal, restaurant and epicerie

[00:27:09] Eva Jorgensen: And right in that same neighborhood, there’s a restaurant and a piece of a little shop, food shop.

[00:27:15] Eva Jorgensen: They’re owned by the same people and they’re both called L’ideal.

[00:27:18] Eva Jorgensen: Okay.

[00:27:18] Eva Jorgensen: The ideal, like the ideal restaurant and the ideal epicerie. And I ate at the restaurant and got a couple little things at the epicerie and they’re very charming and very good.

Chez Mina, traditional Moroccan place

[00:27:29] Eva Jorgensen: There’s also the restaurant Chez Mina right around the corner, which is a traditional Moroccan, like couscous kind of place.

[00:27:37] Eva Jorgensen: That was great too, and has a very fun atmosphere.

[00:27:40] Eva Jorgensen: I ate at both those places.

[00:27:41] Annie Sargent: It’s really cool because you did a lot of things that locals would do. This is not the normal touristy track, so that’s wonderful that you’re telling us about it. I’m looking through your photo and you sent me a photo of a table and chairs and sun umbrella right by the water.

The Tuba Club (untested but it looks great!)

[00:27:59] Eva Jorgensen: Oh, yeah. That is, that was down near the Calanque.

[00:28:02] Eva Jorgensen: Down at the Calanque, there’s actually a hotel and a restaurant that are fairly new. They just opened the last several years called, I believe it’s called Tuba Club.

[00:28:12] Annie Sargent: Oh.

[00:28:13] Eva Jorgensen: Let me look at, yeah, Tuba Club.

[00:28:15] Eva Jorgensen: I actually looked into staying there, but I booked this little Marseille leg of my trip, I booked very last minute, basically a week before I went there. So, most of the hotels were filled up, but I did, I was looking into staying at the Tuba Club that looked very charming to just stay. If you wanted kind of a beach getaway and you’re, you know, more like a beach getaway that’s more quiet and relaxed and everything, that would be a great place to stay because it’s at Calanque, at the southern end of the city.

[00:28:42] Eva Jorgensen: It just feels like this, your getaway from the whole world. And that those table and chairs were right there, in front of the hotel. And they have a restaurant that’s also overlooking the water, I mean, it was very, very sweet and charming, yes.

[00:28:56] Annie Sargent: So you sent me a lot of photos that have this typical glow of the light, the provençal light, did you mostly take your photos in the evening or first thing in the morning?

[00:29:08] Eva Jorgensen: I wasn’t really, I was just taking them throughout the day.

[00:29:11] Annie Sargent: Oh, I see. Okay.

[00:29:13] Eva Jorgensen: Just, I think there are several that are from the evening, from golden hour, that’s probably what it is, because I’m not a huge early riser. I’m not up at dawn. No, no, no.

[00:29:22] Eva Jorgensen: So if it would’ve been that, if you’re thinking morning or evening, those ones are probably evening that you’re looking at.

[00:29:29] Eva Jorgensen: But the light was just beautiful all day, I felt like, but especially of course, especially at golden hour and sunset.

[00:29:35] Eva Jorgensen:

[00:29:35] Annie Sargent: So these are not beaches with a lot of sand, I mean, the photos that you sent me, there’s a lot of flat rocks. So you can put your towel down on the flat rocks and then you have to, I suppose, carefully go into the water, and bring water shoes, otherwise you’re going to cut your feet.

[00:29:51] Eva Jorgensen: Yes, although a lot of them it gets, it’s where I was going , the Petite Nice beach that I mentioned, and then down at the Calanque, actually you didn’t, you jumped in the water, and it was just deep. It was just deep already.

[00:30:03] Eva Jorgensen: So those two beaches that I talked about that was that kind of a beach.

[00:30:07] Eva Jorgensen: So not as great for little kids, if you have little kids, but if you’re with people who are strong swimmers, you can just jump right in the water and you’re just swimming.

[00:30:15] Annie Sargent: But then you have to get out. You have to get out somewhere, right?

[00:30:18] Eva Jorgensen: Yeah, yeah. So you have to kind of climb in and out of those big flat rocks like you were talking about.

Plage du Prado, better for families

[00:30:23] Eva Jorgensen: If you want a more flat beach, then there is a beach that I went by on the bus that I saw, and let me look it up on the map, it’s a famous area. Okay, Plage du Prado.

[00:30:35] Eva Jorgensen: Du Prado, yes.

[00:30:37] Eva Jorgensen: That area down there is very, that part Marseille is, unlike the rest of the city, it’s very flat. And so they have big, wide flat beaches. I think some of them might be sandy even down there. So if you have little kids and are wanting something more gentle like that, then that would be a good place to go.

[00:30:55] Annie Sargent: Mm-hmm. Yeah. You sent me some really very fun photos. I’ll probably just post them on Instagram. Do you have your own Instagram account where people can see these things? Tell us what’s the name.

[00:31:07] Eva Jorgensen: It’s Eva Jorgensen Travel.

[00:31:09] Eva Jorgensen: So just my name and then travel.

[00:31:12] Annie Sargent: Very good. Yeah. You sent some really fun photos. I’ll try and remember to tag you on all of these photos. Yeah.

[00:31:21] Annie Sargent: And it looks like you went into one museum anyway. I’m seeing some statues Where did you go? Let’s see.

[00:31:27] Eva Jorgensen: Oh, that might’ve been in up in Provence more, because I was in Provence before and I did send you some photos from Provence. I believe that was in Aix-en-Provence.

Describe the people who would enjoy Marseille

[00:31:35] Annie Sargent: Lovely stuff. You really had a very fun time.

[00:31:39] Annie Sargent: So, Marseille, describe the people who would enjoy Marseille most. What sort of people are they?

[00:31:46] Eva Jorgensen: Hmm. I would say it could be both. It could be people who love the seaside, who love the ocean, who love beautiful scenery like the cliffs going down into the ocean and that sort of thing. And if that’s the only part that you love, then you could stay in the southern part of the city where the Calanque are.

[00:32:04] Eva Jorgensen: But then people who really love culture, who love going to shops and restaurants and museums and things like that, and like a city with a lot of energy, then I think those kind of people would love to go to visit Marseille and the city itself.

[00:32:19] Annie Sargent: Yeah.

[00:32:19] Eva Jorgensen: I travel a lot with people who are creative types who love art and design and that kind of thing.

[00:32:23] Eva Jorgensen: And I think those kind of people would love Marseille, because it has, and it has a lot of young, up and coming artists and designers who are doing really interesting things.

[00:32:34] Annie Sargent: Yeah, a bit edgy feel to it, just a little bit, not anything crazy, but yeah, a bit of an edge. Yeah.

[00:32:40] Eva Jorgensen: A little bit of an edge. So if you like that sort of thing, like there’s a shop called Sessùn Alma that has, they’re actually a chain French clothing store, that’s all over the country, but this one in Marseille is special because they have a special shop that they carry local artists like ceramics and homemade things like that from local artists, which is really cool.

[00:33:03] Eva Jorgensen: So if you’re into that kind of thing, I think Marseille is a great, a great spot to go to as well. If you want everything to be perfectly classical neat and tidy that, you know, I guess this isn’t the place, but I don’t know. But I guess there’s no, I don’t know where you would go instead.

[00:33:21] Annie Sargent: Go to Nice or Cannes.

[00:33:23] Eva Jorgensen: Okay.

[00:33:24] Annie Sargent: You know if you need everything just so, go to Nice or Cannes.

[00:33:28] Eva Jorgensen: Okay. Good advice. But if you don’t mind things being just a little like higher energy and a little bit, with a little bit of an edge then I think Marseille is great. And I loved it. I really, I really loved it. Mm-hmm. And as a woman traveling alone, it was, you know, people were like, Ooh, are you sure you want to do that?

[00:33:46] Eva Jorgensen: But if you’re just aware of your surroundings, like anywhere else, it was great.

[00:33:50] Eva Jorgensen: Yeah.

[00:33:51] Annie Sargent: So this is a problem because even French people embrace this idea that Marseille is somehow dangerous. If you ask some French people, they’ll tell you, oh, yeah, I’d never go to Marseille. But that’s because they watch the news and they know about all the, you know, all this stuff.

[00:34:08] Eva Jorgensen: I recently went to Paris, and I won’t get into all that except to say the same thing happened with the news. People are like, are you sure you want to go to Paris right now? Because here in the US we were seeing all these news reports of all the strikes everywhere and protests and the trash on the streets everywhere.

[00:34:24] Eva Jorgensen: And it just looked like it was utter chaos in Paris. And I asked some local Parisian friends, should I still come? And they’re like, oh yeah, just come. And I went. And honestly, I didn’t see a thing that was in the news, like for the week that I was there, I didn’t see a thing. So it just goes to show that things do get really blown out of proportion a lot of times.

[00:34:43] Annie Sargent: Obviously news people, they want to go to the sensational. If you watch French news, you never want to go to Chicago ever again, or you know, anywhere where there’s a shooting. Because it’s a big deal. Well, Americans go about their lives around these shootings just fine, it seems. Just be, keep it in mind, if you see it on the news, it’s obviously sensationalized or it’s at least, even if it’s not sensationalized, it’s at least a very narrow point of view on one thing happening in one place. It’s not, you cannot generalize it to the rest of the country.

[00:35:21] Eva Jorgensen: Yes, exactly.

Food in Marseille

[00:35:22] Annie Sargent: So, as someone who’s been to France many times, I do want to ask you about the pastries because you wrote down that you did not like the pastries in Marseille. I want to know why, are they that different? I don’t know.

[00:35:35] Eva Jorgensen: Yeah, I, I know, I’m picky. Okay? I will admit, I will fully admit that I am picky . I’m very picky about food. I love food and I love a variety of different kinds of foods and different types of cuisines, but the quality of the food, I’m pretty picky about. I just didn’t think the pastries in Marseille, in the South of France, like Provence in general, we’re nearly as good as the ones in Paris.

[00:35:58] Eva Jorgensen: I know that’s probably controversial, I’m going people mad by saying that.

[00:36:03] Eva Jorgensen: But I just, I don’t know, it wasn’t something I could really pinpoint. I would, it just, they didn’t taste quite as good. I was like, are they not using all like butter? I don’t know what it is exactly.

[00:36:14] Annie Sargent: I couldn’t tell you, but I’m going to Provence next week and so I will test your theory.

[00:36:20] Eva Jorgensen: I did find, okay, I did find one place that I loved that had good pastries. And that was in l’Isle Sur la Sorgue, and it was called Patisserie Jouvaud, I think.

[00:36:31] Annie Sargent: Very good. Because I am staying in l’Isle sur la Sorgue, haha.

[00:36:34] Eva Jorgensen: Oh, well there you go. Well lucky you, yeah. That place I loved and I thought they had great pastries, but that was the only one that I thought was really up there with the quality. I’m not saying that the pastries everywhere were terrible.

[00:36:48] Eva Jorgensen: They just, to me, weren’t quite worth it. I’d eat it and be, oh, that wasn’t quite worth it. It wasn’t as good as I had hoped.

[00:36:54] Annie Sargent: Yeah, not worth the calories kind of thing.

[00:36:56] Eva Jorgensen: Yeah. Mm-hmm.

[00:36:57] Annie Sargent: How about the bread? Was the bread the same or was that different too?

[00:37:00] Eva Jorgensen: I think I did have some good bread. I did have some good bread. I remember at that, at Epicerie Ideal and the restaurant Ideal in Marseille, I remember having some really good bread and I think some other places as well. And I had great food. I mean, amazing food. It was just that, that was interesting about the pastries.

[00:37:17] Eva Jorgensen: Also really great ice cream gelato in Provence.

[00:37:21] Eva Jorgensen:

[00:37:21] Eva Jorgensen: So, don’t worry, I ate well.

Local food and wine recommendations

[00:37:23] Annie Sargent: Yeah. So what are some local foods that, you recommend people try or wines? I don’t know if you drank any wine, but…

[00:37:29] Eva Jorgensen: I’m not a wine drinker. I know people that I have been with have, and they love it, but I couldn’t, I’m not an expert, so I can’t speak to that. But let’s see, oh, I have to say in Aix-en-Provence, of course, they’re famous for the calissons, candies and I really did find, the ones that I think are the best are the ones right on that main street Cours Mirabeau. They have, I’m trying to remember the name of it, it’s one of the old, like very well known places, like right there on the Cours Mirabeau, that’s been there forever and it’s very charming looking.

[00:38:01] Annie Sargent: I hate calissons, so I am not going to…

[00:38:03] Eva Jorgensen: Oh, you hate calissons.

[00:38:04] Annie Sargent: Can’t eat them, no.

[00:38:05] Eva Jorgensen: I’ll have to look it up and send you that for the show notes because that place was amazing.

[00:38:10] Eva Jorgensen: And again, I didn’t really love their pastries, but their calissons were incredible.

[00:38:14] Eva Jorgensen: I’ll send you that note for the show notes.

[00:38:16] Annie Sargent: Yeah, fantastic.

[00:38:17] Eva Jorgensen: So other, oh, just one more place to point out for food in Provence in general is if they have a chance, go to Pollen in Avignon, because it was a Michelin Star restaurant and Michelin Star meal, we went for lunch and it was 40 euros, fixed price for everything. Starter, main, dessert, plus there were several other little amuse-bouche that they threw in there. And it was incredible. It was so delicious. They were very charming, very kind, very nice service, not snooty at all.

[00:38:50] Eva Jorgensen: And it was incredible. And we couldn’t believe we got all of that, everything included for 40 Euros a person.

[00:38:56] Annie Sargent: Yeah. And so did the meal take forever though?

[00:38:59] Eva Jorgensen: It took a while. We were probably, I mean, hour and a half to two hours, somewhere in there.

[00:39:04] Annie Sargent: Okay. Which to some people is an eternity. Americans will, some of them they want to eat in 15 minutes and be out of there, so…

[00:39:11] Eva Jorgensen: This is true. But almost any sit, don’t you find almost any sit down restaurant in France, it will take you about that long to eat?

[00:39:19] Annie Sargent: Well not two hours, but yeah, an hour is the minimum. If it’s a sit down restaurant, an hour is the minimum. The fancier the restaurant, the longer you’re going to stay. It’s at least an hour and a half, sometimes more. And it just depends on the vibe of the place.

[00:39:35] Eva Jorgensen: True and how many people you’re with. If it’s a bigger group, it’s going to take longer, of course.

[00:39:39] Annie Sargent: But it’s worth it. If you enjoy that sort of experience, it’s well worth it.

[00:39:43] Annie Sargent: It just depends what you want. You know?

[00:39:45] Annie Sargent: If you want to eat quick and get out of there, don’t go to

[00:39:47] Eva Jorgensen: No,

[00:39:48] Annie Sargent: like that.

[00:39:48] Eva Jorgensen: No, true. And there’s just plenty of, the markets everywhere. You know, always love to just go to a market and just eat whatever I find at the market. Bread, cheese, you know, sausage, all the produce. They’re just amazing. And especially anywhere in Provence, Marseille, the markets were incredible.

[00:40:07] Annie Sargent: So you’ve been to France many times, so is there something you learned on that trip about France or about Marseille that you want to share with everybody?

Villa La Coste, a luxury resort by Aix-en-Provence

[00:40:15] Eva Jorgensen: Well, let’s see. The one is just what we’ve already talked about, about Marseille and how incredible it was, because this was really my first true visit to Marseille and I just was blown away and I fell in love with it, and I can’t wait to go back. And another thing is, oh, one place that I just discovered, I had discovered on the previous trip that I think was just incredible.

[00:40:35] Eva Jorgensen: I think you’ve talked about it maybe on the podcast, is the Villa La Coste, which is in the countryside of Provence, not far from Aix-en-Provence. And it is an incredible place to go. You could spend a whole day, there’s a winery, you can go on wine tours if you want to do that. There’s a whole outdoor art walk through the wine fields and through the forest and all these things. That has all these world-class, internationally famous artists pieces in it, and it’s so incredible. And then they have three or four restaurants on site as well, so you can get an amazing meal. And we ate at the Italian one called Vanina on the terrace there, and it was so good and charming.

[00:41:15] Eva Jorgensen: So that was just an incredible, incredible place that I think a lot of people would enjoy.

[00:41:20] Annie Sargent: Yeah. So it’s Villa La Coste it’s in two, three words. Yeah. And it’s not far from Aix-en-Provence, let’s see. Is the address, oh no, the address is actually Le Puy-Sainte-Réparade.

[00:41:36] Annie Sargent: Okay.It’s close to Aix.

[00:41:39] Eva Jorgensen: Yeah. Maybe a 15 minute drive, I want to say like that, you know?

[00:41:43] Eva Jorgensen: So that was really incredible. And also just…

[00:41:47] Annie Sargent: So this is good for pampering, you know, if you want to be pampered for the day, just take it easy and relax. And do they have a spa and all that?

[00:41:55] Eva Jorgensen: They do have a spa, so you could go book. I’m sure I didn’t do that, but I’m sure you could go book a massage at the spa or something if you wanted as well. Mm-hmm.

Did you make any mistakes, did anything went wrong?

[00:42:04] Annie Sargent: Cool. Very cool. Anything you do not recommend people did. Did you make any mistakes? Did anything went wrong during this trip?

[00:42:12] Eva Jorgensen: Let’s see.

Difficutlies with pick up and drop off points for scooters

[00:42:13] Annie Sargent: Because in, in your document you mentioned a scooter. You rented a scooter and you weren’t sure where to return it.

[00:42:20] Eva Jorgensen: Oh that, yeah, that was tricky. I did rent a scooter one evening to ride along the corniche, I thought that would be fun. And it was, it was very fun. And then it came time to go back to my hotel and I could not figure out where to leave that scooter. It was one of those things where I couldn’t, I found a spot where there were a bunch of other scooters parked.

[00:42:40] Eva Jorgensen: So I thought, oh, this will be the, where I can park it. And it said, the scooter was telling me it wasn’t an official parking spot. And then I was having trouble finding where an official parking spot was and I needed to get back. And so I ended up just leaving it with all those other scooters, so not just, it wasn’t a totally random spot, it was with a bunch of other scooters.

[00:43:01] Eva Jorgensen: So yeah, luckily they didn’t charge me, but they said if I did it again, they would charge me. That was something I thought next time in advance, I’d figure out where, like plan it out in advance if I rented the scooter, okay, where can I drop this off? Is it where I’m going to be ending up, you know.

[00:43:18] Annie Sargent: Pick up and drop off are important.

[00:43:19] Eva Jorgensen: Get that sorted out before you just take off.

Driving in the Marseille city centre, NOT recommended!

[00:43:22] Eva Jorgensen: You know? That’s just a little thing that I would’ve done differently. And also driving in Marseille was, I only drove in, I had a car up in Provence and then drove into Marseille and dropped it off at the train station. And that was quite an ordeal.

[00:43:38] Eva Jorgensen: Of course, I was going right to the train station, which is in the middle of the city, probably the trickiest part to drive in.

[00:43:43] Eva Jorgensen: And so that was not fun.

[00:43:45] Eva Jorgensen: And I would not have wanted to drive around more in that central part of the city, but yeah, some people probably wouldn’t make any big deal at all.

[00:43:54] Eva Jorgensen: But yeah, no, overall it went, it went really well. Nothing went very wrong.

Scolded for talking on the train

[00:43:58] Annie Sargent: And you got scolded for talking on the train.

[00:44:01] Eva Jorgensen: Oh, that’s right. Oh, that’s right. Yeah. So my girlfriends and I were taking the train from Paris down to Provence, and as we got on the train in Paris, we were just still getting situated, putting our bags away and figuring out where everybody would sit and everything. And we were just chatting as we were doing that.

[00:44:19] Eva Jorgensen: And the train hadn’t even left the station yet. But I guess we were the noisy Americans because everybody else on that train was quiet, just quietly sitting there. And this woman came, this woman came up to us and we felt like kids and like she was a school teacher lecturing us.

[00:44:36] Eva Jorgensen: She was like, In France we don’t talk on the train, in France, we’re quiet on the train, you need to stop talking. And we just kind of, we all just sat there and like looking very sheepish and like, okay. And then we were quiet. We were quiet the rest of the time. And then when we arrived in the train station in Provence, a different woman, French woman came up to us and said, I heard that lady, I heard that other woman give you a lecture at the beginning of the train ride, but I just want to tell you that you did a very good job and you were very quiet.

[00:45:10] Eva Jorgensen: And so then we felt like she was giving, she was like the nice teacher giving us the good lecture, like we did a good job, at the end of the train ride. It was pretty funny.

[00:45:20] Annie Sargent: Oh, that’s adorable. And I don’t know that French people are particularly quiet on trains, but it’s true that in public transportation you normally don’t want to be too loud. It makes sense. There’s a lot of people around. Well, Eva, thank you so much for talking to me about Marseille and what you enjoyed about it. And I love that you did some things that it wouldn’t have occurred to me to recommend to anybody. So that’s fantastic. That’s really, you know, new things to consider. And it’s true that Marseille is a beautiful town, you just, you need to get over all the negative stereotypes.

[00:45:54] Annie Sargent: They’re not necessarily right, you might be wrong about some things.

[00:45:59] Eva Jorgensen: This is true. Yep. I agree. And Marseille is incredible. Definitely worth a visit. I loved it. Merci beaucoup Eva.

[00:46:06] Eva Jorgensen: Merci Annie. Have a good day.

[00:46:08] Annie Sargent: You too. Au revoir.

[00:46:10] Annie Sargent:

Thank you, Patrons

[00:46:17] Annie Sargent: Again, I want to thank my patrons for giving back and supporting the show. Patrons get several exclusive rewards for doing that. You can see them at Thank you all for supporting the show, some of you have been doing it for a long time and I am really appreciative of that.

[00:46:39] Annie Sargent: And a shout out this week to new patrons Anne Wunsch from Australia, Tonya Iles from the US, and also Martina Cucchiara, which I think is also from the US. I so appreciate people who donate to the podcast because they enjoy it, and they want it to keep going.

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New Patreon reward: Zoom Meetings

[00:47:10] Annie Sargent: This week I added a new Patreon reward that I think you will enjoy. Patrons will get invites to Zoom meetings with me on different days and times to accommodate people who live in different time zones.

[00:47:25] Annie Sargent: At first, it’ll be ask me anything type of format, and then I’ll probably think of topics that we can explore together. It’ll be lovely spending time face to face with patrons. So patrons look for that invite in your inbox this week.

[00:47:41] Annie Sargent:

Itinerary Consult Service

[00:47:41] Annie Sargent: And of course, you can also take advantage of my expertise as your personal itinerary consultant. I offer two levels of service now, the Bonjour service, this is the least expensive and usually the one where you can get an appointment the fastest.

[00:47:56] Annie Sargent: With the Bonjour service we talk for an hour, you ask me all your questions, I give you my suggestions and you’re ready to make decisions about whatever you are struggling with.

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[00:48:24] Annie Sargent: So to get started, purchase the service. Go to and you’ll get emails guiding you through the process, it’s fairly simple.

[00:48:33] Annie Sargent: And this week I have some feedback about the VIP experience from Joe O’Reilley.

Feedback about the VIP experience from Joe O’Reilley

[00:48:40] Joe OReilley: Bonjour Annie, this is Joe O’Reilley. Recently you helped my wife Marybeth and I with an itinerary for Avignon Gordes, for an upcoming trip. You obviously were paying close attention to us because you really addressed all our questions and concerns in your 74 page itinerary. And it’s amazing. It came the next day, faster than Amazon expedited service.

[00:49:07] Joe OReilley: It really was something. We are going to these places in Provence and the Luberon for the first time and maybe the only time in our lives. So it was important that we be provided with as much information as possible for us to make some wise choices in figuring out how to spend our time.

[00:49:24] Joe OReilley: And you have given us the information we need to do that. We’re staying in Avignon for five days and you’ve given us thoughts on the other neighboring, you know, Arles, Pont-du-Gard, Aix-en-Provence, the other neighboring areas and what to see and what can be seen, where to go, possible places to eat, tips on driving, parking, when not to drive.

[00:49:49] Joe OReilley: All the information we need to make intelligent decisions and get the maximum appreciation out of our trip. So, we couldn’t be more happy with your service. We listen regularly to your podcast, they’re wonderful, they’re entertaining, and we feel much more comfortable about our upcoming trip and the places we’ll go, the things we’ll see.

[00:50:11] Joe OReilley: We asked even about a possible cooking school, and you gave us some good choices there. So, your service is wonderful. Thank you for providing it. I encourage anybody who’s going to France and not already on some sort of a tour to take advantage of what you offer.

[00:50:27] Joe OReilley: Thanks again, merci beaucoup and Au revoir Annie.

VoiceMap Tours available

[00:50:32] Annie Sargent: Thank you Joe! And If my schedule is fully booked, you know about the VoiceMap tours, they make your life easy. I’ve got five tours, the Eiffel Tower available in French or English, Ile de la Cité, Le Marais, Montmartre, Saint Germain des Prés and the Latin Quarter.

[00:50:48] Annie Sargent: You can download them when you buy them, and you can listen at home if you’d like. Then when you get to Paris, at long last, open VoiceMap, go to the appointed start of the tour, and I’ll start talking. It’s as easy as that.

[00:51:02] Annie Sargent: You can access my tours directly from the VoiceMap app if you’re in a hurry. But if you purchase the tour codes from, you’ll receive a special listener discount. But that purchase is not immediate, count on a few hours before you get your codes.

[00:51:20] Annie Sargent: Okay?

Learning Spanish as a mature adult: it takes dedication!

[00:51:22] Annie Sargent: Alright, about learning Spanish. I have been going to Spain since I was a child and somehow never learned Spanish. In school, I took English, German, and Italian. I never got any good at German and I don’t go to Germany, so I never felt the need, but I could hold a basic conversation in Italian. I remember reading Il Visconte Dimezzato by Italiano Calvino, in the original Italian and enjoying it immensely. So my Italian was not fluent by any stretch of the imagination, but I could talk, and whenever I went back to Italy it would come back, you know?

[00:52:04] Annie Sargent: Spanish was another matter, which is sad because my ancestry four generations back is pretty much all Spanish. Why I never learned it in school is silly. It’s probably because my mother wanted me to. So, you know, I was a dumb kid and refused. At any rate, here I am at age 58 with a strong desire to be able to converse in Spanish, and it’s not easy.

[00:52:29] Annie Sargent: So here’s what I’ve done so far.

[00:52:31] Annie Sargent: I’ve completed Pimsler Castilian Spanish level one, and I did it faithfully. This is one where you do a half an hour lesson every day, and you don’t do more than that, you don’t do less than that, but you have to do your half hour every day.

[00:52:46] Annie Sargent: Pimsler is not as popular as language learning apps these days, but I like how it works better because it forces me to talk and make my own sentences.

[00:52:58] Annie Sargent: The whole point of Pimsler is to stimulate me to say things in Spanish. It doesn’t make me choose answer A, B, or C but rather it makes me think of the answer myself. And it’s quite the gymnastic. Some of the lessons I did twice because I could tell I hadn’t assimilated enough of the content, but I think I’ve gotten most of the stuff in level one.

[00:53:21] Annie Sargent: And I’ll start on level two this week.

[00:53:25] Annie Sargent: I also have a tutor that I meet on Skype for an hour, twice each week. This is someone who works at a language school in Sitges full-time, and he takes me on after hours. I met him because I’m renting his parents’ garage to tell you the truth, and they told me, oh, our son teaches Spanish. I’m like, oh, I need to talk to him.

[00:53:44] Annie Sargent: Anyway. I get to make a spectacular fool of myself telling him about my day in Spanish every time we have a lesson, you know, then he helps me get the words out, and he writes down a better way to say these things than what I came up with. He doesn’t do the talking for me, he just writes it down and then he lets me memorize those things later. Which, you know, I’ve tried to memorize them, but I keep forgetting some, and then he reminds me, and he’s very good. He makes me do drills, reading, comprehension, things like that. But mostly he listens to me butcher his language.

[00:54:21] Annie Sargent: And that’s what I like about this, is that for an hour, I do 90% of the talking. He explains a little bit of grammar, but we don’t go into any depth with that. It’s mostly giving me examples, you know, and understanding grammar is not going to make anybody conversant, talking makes you conversant.

[00:54:40] Annie Sargent: My goal is that by June, 2024, I’ll be able to chat in Spanish and not make their ears bleed. I’m very lucky I get to go to Spain on a regular basis and I have to talk to people about everyday life things. I’m doing renovations in my apartment and I don’t expect tradespeople to know English or French. Sign language and Google Translate have got me by so far, but I want to do better.

[00:55:08] Annie Sargent: I also had to go talk to bike shop folks this last week.

TIps for learning French at any age

[00:55:13] Annie Sargent: Tips for you trying to learn French, especially if you’re not a spring chicken anymore.

[00:55:19] Annie Sargent: Step one, do at least half an hour of French every day, every day, every day, every day, half an hour. It’s hard to fit it in, I know, but do that.

[00:55:27] Annie Sargent: Step two, find opportunities to use your French. There are language exchange apps and websites. If you search for language learning community, find one that works for you. This is where you get to speak the language you want to learn and they get to practice English with you.

[00:55:46] Annie Sargent: I think that works really well.

[00:55:48] Annie Sargent: Come to France if you can, of course, as well. But don’t count on practicing your French with waiters in Paris. They all speak English and they won’t have time to suffer through your hesitant French.

[00:55:59] Annie Sargent: Go out of Paris, go to places that are not touristy, and we talk about them all the time in this podcast. That’s where you’ll find the boulangerie lady who wants to hear your French. Take the bus, talk to the driver. Ask for directions from strangers on the street. Be chatty. People who work at the tourist office will probably speak English with you. That’s to be expected. But storekeepers and bus drivers in rural places in France probably won’t.

[00:56:31] Annie Sargent: And let me just say this, if you’re not talking, but rather choosing the correct response and earning points, it’s not language learning, it’s a game. A bon entendeur, salut! Which means, a word to the wise.

Flying taxis will be in operation around Paris by the 2024 Olympics and going forward

[00:56:50] Annie Sargent: About the flying taxis that are supposed to be flying around Paris during the Olympics, they look like giant drones. They have 15 blades, 15 little blades all arranged around in a circle. They are all electric. For now, they carry one pilot and one passenger. They already fly, but not commercially yet, and there should be 10 of them ready for commercial service by the time the Olympics start. The heliport for this machine is at Issy-les- Moulinaux, it’s right by the 15th Arrondissement.

[00:57:25] Annie Sargent: There’s been a helicopter development group at Issy-les- Moulinaux for decades, and they are now also working on much lighter helicopters that make five times less noise. They are a lot nimbler and they are fully electric. I love it.

[00:57:41] Annie Sargent: During the Olympics, they’ll be used to transport VIPs and they will go places where it’s, you know, time is of the essence kind of thing.

[00:57:49] Annie Sargent: Eventually, they’ll be licensed to land on any heliport, at a hospital especially, they’ll be used for medical evacuations, organ transplants, that sort of thing. Because even if you have the police escorting a vehicle that needs to get to a hospital quickly, it’s not as fast as a helicopter.

[00:58:09] Annie Sargent: They are working on a machine that can move up to four people. That’s going to be scary. I know that Boeing has plans for pilotless drones that can carry passengers. That’s not going to be allowed in Europe for a long, long, long time, if ever.

[00:58:25] Annie Sargent: The French company doing this is called the Volocity, look them up, it’s cool. They hope to make it affordable as well. They want to sell each ride for between 100 and 200 € per person, which is really not that much money. So wait and see where this goes, but it sounds like it’s going to be really, really cool.

[00:58:44] Annie Sargent: Thanks to podcast editors Anne and Cristian Cotovan, who produce the transcripts. Use the website, it’s really helpful. It will help you find all these non touristy places that perhaps you don’t remember the names of. If you look for off the beaten track on Join Us in France, you’ll find several.

Next week on the podcast: France for bookworms

[00:59:03] Annie Sargent: Next week on the podcast, an episode with Elyse called France for Bookworms. I love bookworms. I am a bookworm and I hope you are too.

[00:59:14] Annie Sargent: Thank you so much for listening, and I hope you join me next time so we can look around France together. Au revoir.


[00:59:21] Annie Sargent: The Join Us in France Travel Podcast is written, hosted, and produced by Annie Sargent and Copyright 2023 by Addicted to France. It is released under a Creative Commons, attribution, non-commercial, no derivatives license.

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