Midweek Distractions 11/29/23: Marseille, Eastbound & Napoleon

Portrait of Napoleon in ermine cloak and crown

At 18, after living in Paris for two months, I went on a class field trip to Marseille for the weekend. It was the first French city I visited outside of Paris, and I was fascinated by the mélange of cultures I encountered there. Marseille is an old city, founded by the Ancient Greeks, and infused with North African and Italian influences. Perhaps because I was removed from the stereotypically uptight Parisians I was usually surrounded by, I found it easier to talk and understand the people around me. I later realized it was the Marseillais accent, slower and more Italian-influenced, that made me feel like I’d mastered the French language so quickly.

Ironically, many people I’ve spoken to around France have cited the Marseille accent as the worst in the whole country. But I’ll always be a fan of the city’s unique slang and unmistakable dialect.

We’ve got a new travel guide to Marseille from first-time Frenchly contributor Jacqueline Parisi. The city is excellent for nature lovers, foodies, and fans of street art, and it’s a great South of France alternative for those who find Nice and Cannes a little too posh for their liking.

Not planning on visiting anytime soon? You can check out France’s second city without leaving your couch in two separate Netflix shows, Marseille and Transatlantic.

What to read…

Jessica Moore’s English translation of the 2012 French novel Eastbound by Maylis de Kerangal made the New York Times “10 Best Books of 2023” list. The story follows the unlikely alliance between a Russian soldier and an older Parisian woman, who meet on a train traveling through the vast Siberian wilderness. You can check out Debra Spark’s review of it for Frenchly here.

What (not) to watch…

I’ve translated Alexis Buisson’s review of Ridley Scott’s controversial Napoleon biopic for Frenchly. You can read the original (in French) on our sister site, French Morning, and you can read the translation here.

Catherine Rickman
Managing Editor, frenchly.us

Stay in touch! I’d love to hear from you: [email protected].







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