Lavender & Licorice
Here I am in Marseille again.
The face of France has remarkably changed since my first visit in 1972. No longer is France the sole provence of slender well dressed people with light skin, dark hair and a languid air while gesturing with a lighted cigarette.
Because it is a gateway city, the differences here are most remarkable. France’s long history as a seafaring and Colonial power has come home to roost.
Of course there are multigenerational native born “pure” French. But there multitudes of North Africans. There are Africans in bright printed cottons, both men and women. There are middle easterners in scarfs and head coverings; western dress and traditional robes. There are young boys dutifully bearing packages while their mother examines produce in the daily market. And there Vietnamese to remind me that the US was not the only country foolish enough to engage in that area of the world.
In an amongst them the tourists are easy to spot with their t-shirts, shorts, running shoes and cameras.
Beyond buying the usual postcards, teatowels and fridge magnets there are a few regional products that fill the stores and scent the air. Provence is known for its lavender fields which are the basis of an industry which includes sachets, soaps and extensive scents/cosmetics.
And then there is anise. Anisette liqueur, candies, flavourings occupy a smaller space then the lavender. And if the thought of food still interests you- there is bouillabaisse – the local specialty. Making a melting pot of the seafood in a cafe staffed with individuals from eight countries.
Back on the boat to the commercial harbor, the changes are extensive even from two years ago.