The last time I was in Marseille was in the 90’s. I was on my way back to Paris from seeing my boyfriend in Portofino. I felt compelled to find the intersection of La Canibiere et Rue du Rhone to take a photo of the intersection where my dad as an MP directed traffic.
Our guide, Martin Grizzell, resident of Marseille and owner of the newly launched Black Marseille Tours met us at city center. Our tour was a combination of walking, bus, tram and train. After our orientation at an outdoor cafe’ where we had the freshest croissants, juice, coffee; we were soon on our way. As we moved towards Vieux Port (old port), our guide made us aware of the vast contrasts between Paris and Marseille. It is much more laid back and a much slower pace. This is where Jamaican author Claude McKay finished writing “BANJO”. The town has named a passage way after Mr.McKay.
Martin made us aware throughout the city that Marseille refused to embrace skavery and there are NO negative images of blacks. They were about commerce. It was refreshing to see buildings and statues of women and men that clearly had African facial and hair characteristics. We saw the various demagraphics of the city and when we walked thru the Arab section of town we could feel the love as some shouted OBAMA OBAMA! A total surprise for me was that my dear sister friend, Ricki Stevenson, owner of Black Paris Tours took the train down from Paris to join us. She was accompanied by Richard Greer from the Bay (family of Dorsey’s Bos’ns Locker) now living in the ATL. PHOTOS, COURTESY OF MR. GREER.
Our lunch was at TOINOU (twa new) one of the best seafood restaurants in the city. Robbie and I and several others shared platters of crab, razor clams, mussels and prawns. Everything was seasoned to perfection. Others had fish and chips or mussels and chorizo. A total feast was enjoyed by all.
Mr. Grizzell, is an artist with Quilting pieces in the Smithsonian. Some participants went to visit his studio and others took the ferry over to go up to La Bonne Mere (cathedral) where the best views of the city are found.
The tour was wonderful however, my regret is that I tried to include too many. He cautioned me to keep it small but my heart didn’t listen. I wanted several to get this experience. We were 17, it should have been a more intimate group of 8-10. . At any rate, I trust all that were privileged to join, enjoyed it.
we are now sailing back to Barcelona and soon I will be back on US soil for 2 weeks, then on to South Africa. See you then!