France And Euro 2016 – Marseille

Following our stay in Nice, we took a train to Marseille. The route in itself is mesmerising going across tiny beautiful towns and villages and then a long patch where it runs along with the ever beautiful French Beaches.

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It’s about a 4 hour journey. One very important thing which cannot be stressed enough is to know all the public transport timings if you don’t have your own car. Also these train stations/terminals are almost similar to small airport terminals and there are a lot of them, so its better to reach a little early.

img_6020.jpgComing into Marseille we checked into our hostel called Vertigo. The hostel was decent, but so very very convenient since we were at a 2 min walking distance from St. Charles Metro Station for local transport, and about 7 minutes from the main Marseille Station where people come in from other cities and destinations. After checking in, we freshened up and left for The Velodrome, to see the quarters between Portugal Vs Poland.

The Velodrome.

The stadium was nothing like I have ever seen. The architecture a masterpiece, the atmosphere electric, the fans half-drunk and fully vocal (especially the Polish). It was nothing short of glorious! It is easy to argue that even though Portugal won the match, The Polish stole the heart, with their constant cheering and energy. So much so, that a good number of fans were standing all through 90 minutes cause there wasn’t ample space. Something you see rarely in world football, but constantly in a Borussia Dortmund match.

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A Polish Section!

One highlight amongst the match was the monstrous foot stomping and banging of seats during corners, which literally got the whole stadium vibrating. Vibrant enough to be misunderstood for a small quake! This match was ten times more entertaining in terms of the overall atmosphere than the Italy vs Spain match that we watched.

The Segway Tour

An easy way to explore the city is to take a Segway tour through it. Marseille not being a humungous city, we were able to explore a whole lot through the Segway. We preferred walking to the next metro station, since it was just 15 mins away, giving us an opportunity to cover more ground, to a company called 21 Jump that has Segway rental services and city tours.

img_4548It was a 2 hour itinerary, of complete joy and at 40 euros it was money well spent. Not to mention, riding a Segway in itself is too much fun! Most Segway tours that I’ve come across cost north of $100US so this was way more affordable and practical.

We saw a lot of places on the tour and went all the way up to the Notre Dame. This was us doing more touristy things, than traveller things, which if you’re a regular reader of this blog, would know the difference.

5 minutes away from 21 Jump is a big shopping centre, the only one we came across here. Filled with some of the best brands, most of them being super famous, but not being easily available; especially in India. Most of these usually run some or the other kind of discount throughout the year.

After shopping and window shopping to our hearts content, we came back to our temporary abode. Freshened up and left for the fan park for Wales vs Belgium.

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The Notre Dame

Most of these fan parks have their own electric atmosphere and the experience is completely different each time, thanks to the fans and the pace of the match. This one, was right by the Marseille beach, and what a treat it was to watch this sunset. I always tend to lose my thoughts and just marvel at this super beautiful, absolutely free gift of nature. Watching it in the hostel was also an option. Although the TV was what appeared to be from the 90s; the subsequent banter mixed with alcohol is nothing short of a fun night!

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A personal recommendation which I’ve probably mentioned earlier too, is that if you truly want to enjoy the hostel, try not to go in a big group as you tend to be involved amongst yourselves and not mix much and get involved in what’s happening in and around the hostel. Talking to and partying all through the night with strangers is a big upside of staying in a hostel.

Ps. The next time I am not going completely groomed to the T, so that I can actually engage and get a taste of the local salons. We came across a few really fancy ones.

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View from the trek.

On our last day in Marseille, we set out for cliff jumping. As you set foot into the Calanques National Park, there are around 4-5 different routes and spots for one to go cliff jumping. It starts at a 35-40 minute trek which can go as high as 3 hours depending on the spot you decide to jump from.

It’s essential to go well equipped with some food to eat, water, spare clothes, a towel and lots of sunscreen. There are absolutely no shops around to cater anything, except a couple of dudes looking to make a quick buck by selling you soda at thrice the actual cost. Also carry at least two sets of shoes (or buy a pair of diving shoes) cause you’ll find sharp edges and pointy stones in abundance, while scaling your way to the jump spot. In case you’re fine with the no-shoe approach, I can guarantee you a few small cuts, bruises and some bleeding, which only stings more as soon as you jump into the sea for obvious reasons. No biggie! I myself got several cuts while doing it all.

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The route towards the beach.

The trek route was quite unique and the view straight out of a movie; extremely picturesque in itself, going from a hill downwards with some stoned roads and some rough patches, with the magnificent blue sea right along the way. Its a long way, but the experience was worth every calorie burnt, every cut opened and blood lost. Also, you can choose your spot to jump from, ranging from around 10 feet to 50 feet.

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The two cliffs to dive from. A spot on the left side goes as high as 50 feet. There are also small boat parties going on in the boats nearby!

The whole process is super exhausting and if you’re ever in a hurry like we were, its just as torturous. Climbing up the rocks and into the sea, swimming back to the shore only to do it 5 more times is nothing short of painstaking exhaustion. The worst part was the trek upwards which we did not account for, while running around like maniacs. Mr.Sun too did us no favour, shining as bright as ever!

The whole experience goes for about 4-5 hours easily, unless you hurry a lot. The national park is connected by busses or personal cars. And if you opt for the public transport, keep in mind the bus timings since the frequency is not too high. You start off in a metro and then the bus to get here.

The Train and Bus Passes. They can be used in any public transport.

We came back dead tired, had lunch and simply crashed from the exhaustion. Woke up in the evening and set off for the fan zone. The atmosphere again was intense and similar to the last time. Half of our squad took a detour and went for a massage instead.

That was our last day in Marseille, as we set out for Chamonix next. Stay tuned and subscribe for my next post featuring our journey to and in Chamonix. And if you like this piece, feel free to like, share and comment.

Until Next Time,

The Travellothoner.

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