Marseille

Marseille was known to the ancient Greeks and Romans as Massalia. It was an important European trading centre and remains the main commercial port of the French Republic. Marseille is now France’s largest city on the Mediterranean coast and the largest port for commerce, freight and cruise ships. The city was European Capital of Culture in 2013 and European Capital of Sport in 2017.

The town was originally founded circa 600 BC as the Greek colony of Massalia and populated by settlers from Phocaea (modern Foça, Turkey). It became the proeminent Greek town in the region of southern Gaul. The city-state sided with the Roman Republic against Carthage during the Second Punic War (218-201 BC), retaining its independence and commercial empire throughout the western Mediterranean even as Rome expanded into Western Europe and North Africa. However, the city lost its independence following the Roman Siege of Massilia in 49 BC, during Caesar’s Civil War, in which Massalia sided with the exiled faction at war with Julius Caesar.

Marseille continued to prosper as a Roman city, becoming an early center of Christianity during the Western Roman Empire. The city maintained its position as a premier maritime trading hub even after its capture by the Visigoths in the 5th century AD, although the city went into decline following the sack of 739 AD by the forces of Charles Martel. It became part of the County of Provence during the 10th century, although its renewed prosperity was curtailed by the Black Death of the 14th century and sack of the city by the Crown of Aragon in 1423. The city’s fortunes rebounded with the ambitious building projects of René of Anjou, Count of Provence, who strengthened the city’s fortifications during the mid-15th century. During the 16th century the city hosted a naval fleet with the combined forces of the Franco-Ottoman alliance, which threatened the ports and navies of Genoa and the Holy Roman Empire.

Marseille lost a significant portion of its population during the Great Plague of Marseille in 1720, but the population had recovered by mid century. In 1792 the city became a focal point of the French Revolution and was the birthplace of France’s national anthem, La Marseillaise. The Industrial Revolution and establishment of the French Empire during the 19th century allowed for further expansion of the city, although it was occupied by the German Wehrmacht in November 1942 and subsequently heavily damaged during World War II. The city has since become a major center for immigrant communities from former French colonies, such as French Algeria.

The port is also an important arrival base for millions of people each year, with 2.4 million including 890,100 from cruise ships. With its beaches, history, architecture and culture (24 museums and 42 theatres), Marseille is one of the most visited cities in France, with 4.1 million visitors in 2012.

Because of its pre-eminence as a Mediterranean port, Marseille has always been one of the main gateways into France. This has attracted many immigrants and made Marseille a cosmopolitan melting pot. By the end of the 18th century about half the population originated from elsewhere in Provence mostly and also from southern France.

Economic conditions and political unrest in Europe and the rest of the world brought several other waves of immigrants during the 20th century: Greeks and Italians started arriving at the end of the 19th century and in the first half of the 20th century, up to 40% of the city’s population was of Italian origin; Russians in 1917; Armenians in 1915 and 1923; Vietnamese in the 1920s, 1954 and after 1975; Corsicans during the 1920s and 1930s; Spanish after 1936; North Africans (both Arab and Berber) in the inter-war period; Sub-Saharan Africans after 1945; the pieds-noirs from the former French Algeria in 1962; and then from Comoros. In 2006, it was reported that 70,000 city residents were considered to be of Maghrebi origin, mostly from Algeria. The second largest group in Marseille in terms of single nationalities were from the Comoros, amounting to some 45,000 people.

Currently, over one third of the population of Marseille can trace their roots back to Italy. Marseille also has the second-largest Corsican and Armenian populations of France. Other significant communities include Maghrebis, Turks, Comorians, Chinese, and Vietnamese.

Since 2013 immigrants from Eastern Europe travel to work in the city of Marseille, attracted by better job opportunities and the good climate of this Mediterranean city. The main nationalities are Romanians and Poles.

The major religious communities in Marseille include:

Roman Catholic (620,000)
Muslim (174,000)
Armenian Apostolic (80,000)
Jewish (52,000)
Protestant (20,000)
Eastern Orthodox (15,000)
Hindu (4,000)
Buddhist (3,000).[36]

This is a 5mn video as I walked in town: https://youtu.be/JKJIYGe4s_Y

There are lots to see 😉

A star in the void (poem #163)

I’ve looked up at night
I was in awe by the sight
Millions of shining lights
Falling on earth so bright
Magical Stars sailing
Through darkness burning
To fulfil their life’s objective
And their future subjective
Surrounded by the void
A fate they can’t avoid
Into darkness they’ll fall
Hiding behind the wall
Absorbing everything
And leaving nothing

I thank Uzma for helping me chose the title.

A lost audience

Here we go again, a second collaboration with the brainstorming Uzma. She has an awesome creative mind. Please stop by her blog and share a comment.

Can you guess who’s parts are these?


Rain drops sliding on my face
Warm tears blinding my eyes
Can’t hide the pain anymore
A trust shattered in pieces
My heart was ripped last night
When I saw you with her
I ran away as if I was fleeing
Fleeing from my thoughts
Fleeing from the truth I’ve seen
My heart was pounding so hard
That I thought I would die
Die of shame and disappointment
Can hold anymore to this life
The rain keeps washing my fears
And my tears still blurring my hate


And then I saw the smile on your face,

That bright, shiny sparkle in your eye,

You felt so real, so complete, so confident.

As I looked back, I realised..

That is not how I knew you..

I loved you for I felt you needed me,

To make you laugh, to take away your worries.

Yet in my selfish love I forgot,

That was I who needed you,

You needed someone else,

Someone not perfect in the worldly eye,

Someone who couldn’t walk or talk,

To support or entertain you,

To share some jokes, to tell you story,

To sing you a song.

And there you are,

Singing, laughing, dancing away,

To muse and entertain.

Perhaps you and I are both clowns,

For a different audience,

For another play…

I wiped my tears to hush my fears,

To let sleep my shame,

To gather all my broken parts,

For another show, another part

Another time, another puzzle,

The life throws my way.

A special Christmas

The wind was howling, the snow was still falling after last night’s blizzard.
A little cottage was almost buried under a pile of snow. Smoke was coming out of its chimney. Inside, an old man was seated in a rocking chair with a little boy on his laps. The child was almost asleep. He was spending his seventh christmas with his beloved uncle. He loved his uncle’s stories, they were adventurous and magical.
– Uncle Sid, tell me one more time the story of you and dad when you were in Paris.
– Ohhhhhh! Shouldn’t you be in bed now?
– Noooooo. Please let me hear it again, then I’ll go to sleep.
– Alright! promise?
– Promised, said the boy with a huge smile.
Uncle Sid gathered his thoughts and started the tale one more time:

It was a long long time ago. We were barley adults back then. We left our home to see the world and have new stories to tell. We’ve crossed deserts and seas, we’ve fought dragons and vicious men. We spent days without seeing any food and days having our pockets full of nuts and cakes. Oh little one…. you don’t know the hardship we’ve been through. Finally in a winter day, we arrived in Paris on a snowy morning. There were lots of carriages, women in long skirts, women in very short dresses selling their bodies for a few coins, stools selling only bread and cakes, drunken men sleeping in taverns till they were kicked out, priests in long dark robes walking up and down the streets…. all kind of stuff that we weren’t used to see during our journey. Your dad was so happy to find himself in a such big town but it was very cold for us, we didn’t have any warm clothes.
– Oh Sid! We’re so lucky to have come this far.
– Let me tell ya, I’m sure that this is the city is going to be called “the city of lights” one day.
We spent the day walking and looking around. We haven’t eaten anything all day as we didn’t have any money left. Our stomach were aching, we’ve seen kids stealing stoles but none of us was expert in stealing. We knew too well the we would have been caught if we tried. So we’ve kept on walking to forget our hunger and to keep warm. At night the temperature dropped a lot, and we were freezing.
-Damn! I wish we were smarter not to come in winter, I said.
The moon shone its pale light on the snowy path, we could only hear the noise of our footsteps and occasionally some laughter in the homes we passed by. It must have been after midnight, we couldn’t keep on walking. We arrived at a bridge. I told your dad that we could as well spend the night under the bridge. He agreed. We lied there back. to back, on the cold stone, without a blanket, without a coat, nothing just the warmth of our back. We were freezing. In the middle of the night I woke up with the tingling of small bells. I opened my eyes to see 6 dears in front of me and a red carriage. A man stepped down of it, he wore a red coat and pants, with black leather boots, a red hat and a white beard. He seemed to come from another time.
– Ho ho ho, hello my dear friends, why are you sleeping under a bridge on this fine Christmas night?
– We came from far, we didn’t find any place to sleep nor any food, your father replied.
– Well…. I’m am your good luck, come with me, He said stepping into the carriage.
We’ve stepped into the carriage with him, and that’s when the really weird thing happened. He said “Ho” and the dears jumped into the air! Yes child, we were flying above Paris in a matter of seconds. Those dears were magical. Your father and I were laughing like crazy. This red clothed man made us see all the city from above. It was beautiful! La Seine… la Tour Eiffel…. we could see the houses so small bellow us. It’s a night we’ll never forget! After a few minutes, the dears landed by a big church where was a decorated fir tree.
– Ok folks, this is the church of Notre Dame, here you’ll find shelter and food. Just knock on that door and it shall be opened. But before we part, take these.
Out of the back of his carriage he took out two packages. One for me and one for your father.
Just after that, he said “Ho” and flew into the sky again. We never saw him again.
We opened the packages, we found for each of us a long warm coat which has kept us warm in those cold winter nights for a very long time.

We knocked at the door the red clothed man showed us. After a while, someone answered behind the door.
– Who is it?
– We’re travelers, we need shelter and food for the night. We don’t want any trouble.
The door opened a little, we saw a short priest in his nightwear. He looked at both of us then opened the door for us to go in.
– Come in, come in. Go heat yourself by the fire, I’ll make you something to eat.
And that’s how we found ourselves in a warm, cozy presbytery were we spent a lovely night in a bed after having filled our bellies. The End”

The little child was already asleep, on his laps. Uncle Sid smiled at him “sweet dreams little one and Merry Christmas”



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