Au revoir, Marseille!

What a lovely place, so ancient and decayed and seedy, but with a vibrant energy that I found irresistible. “The people there were all so nice”… blah blah blah–really it seems to be the French temperament overall. But Marseille, of course, is one of those liminal spaces I find so fascination. People have been coming and going there for thousands of years, since the port is perfectly situated and well protected by the surroundings. This morning I took a walk out to King Rene’s fort at the entrance to the port. There are man  made jetties to protect the port further.

I saw a sign on a tour bus that referred to Marseille as the “capital of the world.” All the milling about from people from all over the world does lend to this between-places feel. Everyone speaks English, but only because it’s the lingua franca–most of the tourists I saw were not native speakers of the language. HOWEVER: this morning while eating breakfast some American ladies were checking out and it seemed rude to me the way they spoke to the desk clerk in English. Would it kill people to at least say “bonjour” and “merci?”

My French is improving daily, and with each interaction my confidence grows. With confidence comes proficiency. But first we must falter and fail and even feel a bit foolish at times. I do thrive on positive reinforcement though, so I am always so delighted to have people speak French back to me and compliment me on my usage. Besides, don’t forget, I have fun speaking foreign languages. To me, it’s like this elaborate game. You go to a foreign country armed with this magical tool, their language, and with it you can communicate in nearly infinite situations.


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