Marseille, France : Top 3 Places to Visit

 

If I had a dollar for every time I had heard about Marseille before this trip, I would have 1 dollar. Truthfully, if it wasn’t for reading the Count of Monte Cristo in middle school, I never would have heard of it. But, what is there to do in Marseille? With only 7 hours to enjoy myself I had to make the most of it; as a college student on a budget, I really had to make the most of it!

Known as a cosmopolitan city in France and a big tourist destination, Marseille is the oldest and second largest after Paris filled with ancient history, diversity of culture and an amazing seaside view. Should you visit here if you’re in France and have a day off? Most definitely.

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Views from the highest point in the city!

During my study abroad trip, Marseille was on the itinerary, so the 9 of us and our program director woke up super early (5am guys, no joke). We got a great group deal on our train tickets (the TGV no-less) and got snacks and breakfast things for the train ride, so we were all set to go. Marseille was actually one of the very first excursions that we went on, none of us were accustomed to the french culture much, but it was an adventure and you know how I feel about those!

What to do, What to Do?

What do you do in Marseille with so little time? First things first we went to the office of tourism, because Lawd knows how excited we can get and then realize we have no plan!

Main Tourist Office
11, la Canebière – 13001 Marseille
T: + 33 (0) 826 500 500  – fax: + 33 (04) 91 13 89 20
 info@marseille-tourisme.com

Go here for all your questions and concerns, they really made it easier for us by giving us a map and making us comfortable.

Notre Dame de la Garde 

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Just wow.

The basilica of Notre Dame de la Garde sits at the highest point of the city, and according to the inhabitants, watches over the city of Marseille and protects them from harm.

This was one of my favorite churches that was in France for so many reasons.Notre dame de la Garde has a Romanesque style and Byzantine effect about it due to the former ownership of the city.  It has colorful mosaic and tiled floors, not to mention the beautiful stained glass all along the walls. Designed by Henri Espérandieu, the basilica was builtin the 19th century.

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The magnificent ceiling

My favorite thing to do while in the basilica was to lay on a pew and stare at the ceiling. As I laid there, the only thing I could think of was how could something so beautiful be made by man? It’s so true that back in the day they were more creative and innovative than we could possibly imagine. Especially with the amount of tools they had, (or didn’t have I should say). I was amazed.

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Sunglasses were Ray-Ban and even though you can only see a sliver, that’s my NorthFace backpack on the left corner- super comfortable and has great back support.

 

A little boat ride 

Here is what really made me fall in love with Marseille. This boat ride! The weather was beautiful, the sun was shining and the water was so so blue. We got our tickets for the boat ride for less than 25 euro each, and due to the season, it was late september, that was a pretty good price.

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Our view while we waited in line. Take a look at that blue sky!

So remember what I said about the count of Monte Cristo? In the novel, Edmond Dantes the protagonist gets thrown in the Chateau D’If that was, at the time, a high security prison used for the lowest of the lows and criminals who has committed high treason. Placed literally in the middle of nowhere, literally nowhere, it’s surrounded by water and the only way in and out is by boat.

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Guys, yes, the picture is from Snapchat, but I was too excited to realize what I was looking at and this is the only photo that I have. We didn’t get to go inside because tours were closed for the day, but it was enough for me to see it from the outside. If you really want to visit the Chateau d’If and take a guided tour, feel free. Let me know how it looks from the inside 🙂

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Me, Mary Grace and Michaela on the boat!

Have you ever seen the ocean and asked how could it get so blue? I was asking myself the same question. My #1 word of the day was “wow.”

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Then came the amazing part. As the boat went up the coast it seemed like the water was changing color. Maybe it was the sun, maybe it was the magic of France, but I knew something was different. When I finally tuned in to what the captain was saying it lade sense: we were in the Côte d’Azur.

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I mean, have you ever seen water so magnificent? For all my followers that travel a lot, I’m sure you can top this, but for me, this took my breath away. Sorry if the pictures are blurry, the boat was going pretty fast in some places.

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And the further in we went, the bluer the water got!

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Woah, right?

The best part about the picture above was that on the other side of the boat there were thousands of jelly fish, just swimming around, having a party I guess! The water here was so sparkly and blue and all I kept wishing to jump in the water and feel it. Granted it was September, so it was probably freezing, but still! I’ve always wanted to go to the Côte d’Azur, and to cross something off my list was satisfying.

I’m sure if I was to return again, I’d visit some restaurants, because there’s amazing seafood in the south of France- trust me! The list of places I want to go will never end, but if you have cool places that you’ve been to or think I’d enjoy, if you like this post, or even just want to say hello, shoot me an email (sincerelysubi@gmail.com) or leave a comment below and I’ll add it to the list! Summer ’17 will be upon us before we know it and don’t forget spring break! Don’t forget to smile today!! Thanks for reading!

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You guys know I had to break out my flag!

Sincerely,

Subi

 

 

Sète 2016

My friends and I made the decision the day before we left to go on this trip. It was really spontaneous, but the ticket was so cheap for an aller-retour (round trip), only € 6.40!! So, we bought the tickets and went! There were also some students from UNC Chapel Hill who were doing a similar program as mine, so we invited them to tag along as well. It was gorgeous. Sète is a working town of boaters and fisherman and industry- and when you first get off the train that’s clear to see. The boats on the dock are so full of color and life is bustling and moving, but at the same time there’s still a sense of peace and no-rush. That laissez-faire life coming into play, no doubt!

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Boats on the Canal de Sète
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CANAL DE SÈTE

STOP # 1

A girl has to eat right? Lucky for us, we ran into a little festival! Showcasing the famous seafood dishes of the city, this event was small but lively. There were little booths of small businesses handing out food for a small price… and then we saw the Brasucade. Brasucade de moulles, mussels fried in a savory broth with spices and olive oil, was new to all of us. But it smelled amazing so we had to get it. One container of it costed about € 4 which was fine with us! We ended up getting those along with tielle (a pastry with mussels and spices, a specialty of Sète) and some fried cakes that had spices, minced vegetables and octopus. 4 orders of mussels, 4 tielles, 8 fried octopus cakes, 3 glasses of wine/ beer: € 25

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BRASUCADE DE MOULLES AND FRIED CAKES

STOP # 2

One of the really amazing things about living in the south of France is how close I am to the beach. On the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, the temperature is amazing up until mid September and I took advantage. This  was the first rocky beach that I have ever been to. There were areas of sand closer to the entrance to the beach, but for the most part it was made up of smooth pebbles and rocks by the water.

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Views of the “Grand Plage”

For the beach, we packed some fruits, bread, cheese and wine. I had the crazy idea to go exploring, and we found caves, mussels in the water and even some sea urchins… which I pricked my foot on after cliff-jumping. Hey, it’s one more thing to cross off the bucket list! After all the fun and adventures on the beach, it was time to go home.

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SÈTE FAMILY PHOTO: after we all swam and ate, it was time to call it a day

This was such a relaxing day. The best part was that we went on this trip, not fully knowing each other at all but knowing that we had that same thirst for adventure. I’m looking forward to many more spontaneous trips and memories like this one.

Sincerely,

Subi

My Happiest Place on Earth

Hello there! It’s been such a long time since I’ve updated you guys on my travels. I had no idea I would be as busy as I’ve been, but I’ve finally had a chance to sit down and write a few entries! Here are 3 things that I’ve had on my list for a while and finally got to check off!

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On the bus from the train station

We came into Paris on a windy day of October. Back in Montpellier, they were warning us that the weather might be cold, rainy, un-agreeable even, but we got lucky and the whole weekend was just gorgeous. As soon as we stepped out of the train and onto the platform, I just knew I was home. We walked to our hotel and dropped our bags off, freshened up, and set off to make some dreams come true.

 

 

 

 

Stop #1: Ladurée AKA the Heaven of Macaron. 

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First time Trying Macaron at Ladurée!

If no one knows what Ladurée is, you have to listen. There is literally no place like this on earth. Here’s some history:

Parisian tea rooms’ history is intimately tied to the
history of the Ladurée family. It all began in 1862, when
Louis Ernest Ladurée, a miller from the southwest of
France, founded a bakery in Paris at 16 rue Royale.
In 1871, while Baron Haussmann was giving
Paris a « new face », a fire in the bakery opened
the opportunity to transform it into a pastry shop… And the rest is history! This tea hose has the best macaron in the world, not to be confused with macaroons which are the coconut swirl of a desert widely found in America. Thy have flavors that range from coconut (niox de coco) to pistachio (pistache) and even rose petal (pétale de rose)! These pastries are super delicate, so don’t throw it in your bag or drop them , because they will crumble into a million delicious pieces! I waited to try macaron for the first time in France, and they were amazing. If anyone ever goes to Paris, don’t leave without trying them first!

Stop #2 Trying Escargot for the first time. 

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The parsley and butter sauce is marinating in the escargot just right!
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These Escargot were actually really good!

When you go to France, do as the French do, yes? It’s commonplace to have escargot, or snail, as an appetizer, or entrée when having a traditional 4 course dinner in France. So naturally, I wanted the whole experience! Only served as an entrée, escargot are not hard to cook. Chefs typically cook them in a simple reduction of butter, thyme, parsley, salt and pepper. The snails cook in this simple sauce for less than 25 minutes and then they’re ready to go! Escargot are served in a dish that has a concave hole for the shells to rest in –>

I thought that it would taste weird – or slimy even, but it was surprisingly pretty firm, like a properly cooked shrimp or conch, which is a sea-snail that shows up in Caribbean fare. It’s pretty safe to say that I’ve found a new favorite appetizer! Now if only I could find this on a menu in the States…

Stop #3 Dreams Really do Come True 

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Eiffel Tower at night

You know that feeling that you get when everything feels right in your world and all things suddenly click into place? That’s exactly how I felt when I saw the Eiffel Tower for the First time. Two of my friends had already been to Paris, so they were excited, that I was excited. They were telling me that as soon as I turned the corner from the metro stop I would be able to see it. I had been dreaming of this moment since I was 5 and I though about it as a real thought in the 8th grade and started learning French, but I never wrapped my head around the idea of actually seeing it.

We turned the corner and I laid eyes on the Eiffel Tower for the first time and like the Cancer that I am, I got emotional and couldn’t help but burst into tears. Suddenly all my hard work, all the sleepless nights studying and missing events to get ahead on assignments, were all worth it. And I couldn’t be happier. We went back to the Eiffel tower every day after that, and one night to see it light up on the hour. It took my breath away.

Guys, when you’ve found your happiest place on earth, write to me, comment and let me know, but I can tell you right now, I’ve found mine. I’ve never been so content then when I was in Paris for those 3 glorious days, and this was only day one! This city has stolen my heart and I can’t wait until I go back.

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My Happiest Place on Earth

Never stop chasing your dreams, don’t ever settle and keep pushing because the finish line is closer than you think. Don’t forget to comment, subscribe, and let me know what you think guys, I want to hear from you! Be blessed ☀️

Sincerely,

Subi

 

My First Full Day in France! and more

Hi everyone!

This was my Facebook post after I arrived in France on September 7th:

Hello from France!

Today has been eventful to say the least! I arrived safely in Paris yesterday morning bright and early, and it was smooth sailing from there! I love my host mom and her son, they were so welcoming and easy to talk to! Here are my first meals for today (September 8th) breakfast, lunch and dessert at lunch. Thank you for all the well wishes and prayer, much needed and appreciated. is going to be an amazing 3 1/2 months.

Bonjour de France!!

Donc, Aujourd’hui a été riche en événements pour le moins! Je suis arrivé en toute sécurité à Paris lumineux hier matin et au début, et il a été la voile en douceur à partir de là! J’aime ma mère d’accueil et son fils, ils étaient tellement accueillant et facile de parler! Voici mes premiers repas d’aujourd’hui (le 8 Septembre) le petit déjeuner, le déjeuner et le dessert au déjeuner. Merci pour tous les souhaits de puits et la prière, bien nécessaires et appréciés. va être un incroyable 3 1/2 mois.

Where:  I will be in the south of France in a town called Montpellier. francemap-1

It’s the 8th largest city in France and the majority of the population consists of students both foreign and native to France.

Who: I’m not staying in a youth hostel, but chose a program that places me with a host family. They provide 2 meals a day for me and I’m on my own for lunch, but that’s the most exciting meal of the day! I found that if I get a sandwich and yogurt, lunch can cost less than 3 euros! I speak French all day every day unless I’m with some of the other UGA students and even then we try to speak french and practice with each other. I’ve only been here for a week, but I already feel like it’s been forever.

When: The program (UGA en France) lasts from early September to early December

Adventures: I have some trips planned, of course!! Europe is amazing because all you have to do is pick a country and you have access to the whole continent. It’s all because of the train system here. In France it’s called the TGV and it’s a high-speed train that can take you to almost any country in Europe. You’d be crazy not to take advantage of it!

I’ll have more exciting news without a doubt! If you have questions for me, suggestions for places to see, good places to shop, let me know! I am so excited to go on this journey with all of you and most of all, to experience the world. I’m so blessed to be given this opportunity and I can’t believe it’s real! AAAHHH! I’m in France! Je suis trés contente. (I am very happy).

Sincerely,

Subi

Waiting… and Waiting

Dear Reader,

As I step into my junior year at The University of Georgia, I experience a different feeling. I which my closest friends go from class to class and meet up for lunches and catch-up between advising appointments and yet, I am not doing any of these things. I am not attending classes, I’m not booking advising appointments and I’m certainly not gathering syllabi from professors. I am waiting. I am waiting for my third year to start. I am getting my passport situated and researching “how to pack and not go over the weight limit” or booking my plane ticket. Instead of going to class August 11th like all of my friends, I’m preparing for my biggest adventure and challenge: Study Abroad.

I got the news that I had been accepted into the UGA en France study abroad trip in the Spring of 2016. I was over the moon with excitement. New place, new continent, new language, new culture? It’s everything I ever dreamed of. But somehow in the midst of that I still found myself at a standstill. When I applied, I was encouraged to go on a trip without any of my friends in order to get that full experience all for myself, and I did. Now that I was in, really in, I started to put things in perspective and really think about how I wanted this experience to go. The doubt started to settle in. And the what-ifs piled up.

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Finding out I got into the program

What if I don’t make any friends? What if I don’t do well in my classes? What if my host family doesn’t like me? What if I don’t like my host family? What if I can;t pay for the trip?What if I get robbed? What if I get taken? All these suppositions and I hadn’t even gone to the first orientation, and I realized that that’s all they were, was supposition. These thoughts were based on fear. So, I took it one step at a time. I created a gofundme page at https://gofundme.com/SubiToFrance and I became proactive in raising the necessary money needed to get me to where I needed to be. I have been waiting for this opportunity since the 10th grade when I started to look at UGA seriously. I knew the ins and outs of the trip and I had researched and prayed and worked for this. I knew I was ready. All that was left to do was get there.

The summer passed by, May, June, July, and suddenly it’s August and classes are starting… and I’m still waiting. It’s a different kind of feeling, being on campus when I don’t have obligations to attend classes or buy books, and all I have on my agenda is work. You have a new appreciation for meeting up with friends in the Student Center or grabbing coffee and a muffin in between classes. All the time is precious. I leave Athens for home in 4 days. That gives me 96 more hours with my friends until I disappear for 4 months to another continent. But you know what? I’m ready for this adventure, ready to challenge myself and immerse my thoughts in the French language and culture. So while I sit and wait for another 24 days until my departure, this is what I have to look forward to, am looking forward to. This is what I am waiting for.

Sincerely,

Subi