Monday, December 31, 2012

Retail Therapy in Aix en Provence

Strictly for serious research purposes, I spent an afternoon just before Christmas investigating Aix en Provence for the best spots for shopping. The stores look really lovely at this time of year with each one trying to outdo the other with its facade decoration and window displays. Here's the Cours Mirabeau dressed for Christmas. In just under two weeks it will be completely transformed again for Marseille-Provence 2013 European Capital of Culture..... Click here to read more.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

A Fistful of Sea Urchins

'Tis the season for shellfish - and although this strip of the Mediterranean is not especially rich in it, the locals tuck into oyster, cockles, prawns, whelks, sea urchins and all other marine goodies with gusto. I went along recently to sample the wares at Marseille's historic seafood restaurant Chez Toinou - and am already making diary dates for the brilliant open-air sea-urchin feasts that take place each Sunday morning at Sausset les Pins, Carry le Rouet and other villages along the Blue Coast from early next month.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Skiing in the Alps of Provence

If you're skiing in the French Alps, you can take a snow bus or train from Marseille airport or Aix direct to your destination. Tickets go on sale today, 20 December, for the snow train - and there are only 240 seats per train, so hurry! Here's where to find the timetables and book your tickets:

Monday, December 17, 2012

Cruising Through Marseille

Cruise tourism is growing apace in Marseille and well over a million cruise passengers are expected to pass through the port in 2013. I've never been able to get a good look at it before, as you need to be a bona fide cruise passenger to visit the terminals. But I was recently given a VIP visit of the brand-new cruise terminal and a tour of the Costa Luminosa, which happened to be in dock that day as part of Seatrade Med, the region's largest industry cruise event which was held in Marseille last month. So if you're planning to start a cruise in Marseille, or to stop off here as part of a longer itinerary, my first-hand report will give you all the information you need to know. Click here to read more.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

British Gastronomy on Marseille's Old Port

THE thing to eat in Marseille is bouillabaisse, the fish stew that has become the city's signature dish. But sometimes you just want nursery food (or simply something that won't cost upwards of 35 €uros a pop). Pine no further: we've found a little cafe just off the Old Port which serves fish 'n' chips, prepared by an English rock musician turned chef. They even have specially imported Sarson's malt vinegar to add the finishing touch. Click here to read more.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Making Cultural Capital Out Of 2013

One of the many things I like about Marseille is that people here don't take themselves too seriously. And faced with the challenge of promoting next year's Capital of Culture jamboree, they've risen to the occasion with a humorous, tongue-in-cheek and faintly self-mocking approach. Of course, it being Marseille, there had to be a sly jab at Paris in the form of this poster telling everyone to come south to the capital. But some of the other campaigns have sent up local stereotypes as well as the failures so far of the MP2013 programme. Click here to read more.