Marseille(s) is the most exciting city I’ve ever spent time in – to drive into, to walk around in, to gaze across. Why: “Bcz it’s full of pirates like a GIANT BIG OLD PLYMOUTH!” sez Dr Vick (who as u know grew up in the small one). ie old (has half a millennium on london); crammed into a natural bowl in the hills round two natural harbours, the ancient one now mainly a tourist centre, the newer one to the west a vast merchant and naval complex

And dotted all across this bowl are thrilling little crags, every single one with buildings new and old crammed onto the pinnacle, and every other available nook cranny crevice ledge and etc (also dug down invisibly under all this are CATACOMBS!! this = where the resistance lived during WW2) (of which more anon)

So our first stop wz a funny old hotel on the harbour sea-front where Vick had always wanted to stay – she has known Marseille(s) for years, since she came to live here to finish her dr8 – but it wz full (plus also while she wz checking it out i wz scolded by scary french little old ladies annoyed by the patented dr vick car-parking style). So on a hunch we drove across town to check if there wz room at LE CORBUSIER’S legendary ur-modernist RADIANT CITY viz l’Unit’ d’Habitation:

AND THERE WAS!!! (someone had cancelled at the last minute): ok but to keep things swift i will leave further discussion of this place to BROWN WEDGE next week maybe

bcz i need to say something abt the one place we visited that day: Notre Dame de la Garde, built 150 yrs ago on a sharp little hill so you can see the gold statue of mary far out to sea – neo-byzantine style outside all steps and terraces and marble and gold and parti-coloured mosaic, have seemingly and likably forgotten that the Roman Empire split in two after the death of Theodosius (being older than both Roman Empires, Marseille(s) is entitled to forget such trivia); inside full of models and pictures of ships which sank and cars which crashed and trains that crashed, desolately moving little drawings or constructions of personal grief and catastrophe hung all over the walls and on dusty chains from the ceiling, as if the congregation had arisen in its passion to transform the building into their own guileless shrine to their own bitter lives

(later we had vietnamese takeaway pancakes in our corb room and somewhat stained the concrete balcony table w.grease so oops for deathless architectural heritage there)