Cross a few more streets, and you get the impression you’ve already been all around the world.
The face of Marseille can change as quickly and profoundly as that of a great actress: on Rue Grignan, east of the Old Port, the decorated windows of the luxury shops are reminiscent of the glamorously made-up visage of an Oscar-winning diva on the red carpet. Then the street goes over a bridge, and after just a step or two more, a sign straddling a pair of adjoining buildings announces the “Quartier des Créateurs”, the designer’s quarter. That’s a wrap, thanks! From here onwards the city puts on a totally different face: walls ablaze with garish graffiti, designer boutiques with cool-sounding names; alternatively-minded health food stores and tiny, exotic restaurants lining the narrow lanes. Cross a few more streets, and you get the impression you’ve already been all around the world. Head back toward the port via the Marché de Noallies (market at Noallies) and the historic Canebière thoroughfare, and you’ll experience another abrupt cinematic cut – and suddenly swear you’re in the middle of Berlin’s Neukölln neighborhood. And it’s barely been two kilometers (1.2 miles) since you passed the Hermès shop.
Marseille is unique. It’s doesn’t have the classic beauty of Cannes or Nice or the instant charm of one of those places in the south of France that are constantly suffused with the odor of lavender.