9 Things You Should Know Before Moving to Marseille

Rhiannon Copeland

1. Be prepared for the intake of breath and pitying look people give you when you tell them you’re living in Marseille. This city does not have the best reputation. “It’s dirty, it’s dangerous, it’s full of thieves” you’ll hear on more than one occasion. But this stereotype is outdated. Marseille is a beautiful city, rich with culture and history. Sure it’s not exactly blissful paradise, but it’s got character. And character is something you’ll never get bored of.

2. It’s gonna get hot. Sweaty feet sliding about in sandals hot. Marseille is officially the sunniest major city in France with over 2,900 hours of sunshine. So bring your factor 50.

3. Forget everything you have been taught about French pronunciation. Les Marseillais do things differently. At first their accent can be quite incomprehensible… “Voulez-vous du peng?” (No they haven’t adopted Year 9 wannabe roadmen slang. What they actually mean is “Voulez-vous du pain?”) But it’ll grow on you and you’ll probably come home sounding like them.

4. You’ll stand out. Unless you’re sporting a Olymique de Marseille tracksuit and have hair slicked back with an unnecessary amount of gel, you’re gonna be a bit of a novelty. Embrace it!

5. You’ll eat well. If you’re getting bored of French cuisine and just need a break from pain au chocolat, then Marseille is the place to be. As a port city, Marseille has benefited from immigration from all over the world. So you can find any kind of food you want, from Congolese to Algerian to Thai. There’s even a street similar to Curry Mile, for all of you missing Rusholme.

6. Don’t wear a floaty dress. Just don’t. Otherwise the infamous Mistral (strong wind affecting the Mediterranean coast of France) will make a mockery of you. See below.


7. You’ll start missing grass a few weeks in. The climate in the region means you’re more likely to find cacti and palm trees. You’ll realise how much you took for granted the abundant greenery in Britain.

Yeah ok, I think it’s just me…

8. Les Marseillais swear like it’s going out of fashion. Putain and merde frequently litter their sentences as though it’s somehow integral to the grammatical structure. If you’re working here, it will probably be the only time you can swear in front of your boss or bank manager and they won’t bat an eyelid.

9. You’ll feel at home. Despite being often quite (too) direct, les Marseillais are really the most welcoming people. Here, you won’t feel like an outsider, you’ll be treated as one of their own. When you first move here and know no one, that, above all else is something you’ll greatly appreciate.


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