My biggest fear in planning two weeks in Marseille wasn't that I would be traveling alone. It was that it would be legitimately scary.
When you tell people that you're planning a vacation to Marseille, you'll get a look. Or maybe, someone will say, "Be careful." I even read somewhere online that it was the least safe city in Europe. (Meanwhile, Brussels was attacked while I was here.)
I'm here to tell you, Marseille is getting a bad rap.
Yes, it's a port town with thousands of years of nefarious history. It's at the intersection of France, Italy and North Africa. So, some mafia legend and racial/religious bias may play into current day fears. And, like many port cities, it may, just by it's nature, attract pirates and pirate loving people.
Maybe I'm one. Here's what I've experienced:
Marseille has been welcoming, sunny, multicultural and charming. Each time I've tackled something scary to me, I have been met with smiles, attempts at English, chivalry and wonderful food and drink. And, yes, I still have my wallet.
You have to be safe and watch out for pickpockets... just like you do in Paris or London or many of the most fantastic places in the world.
But, you'll be rewarded with amazing sunsets on the Old Port.
Restaurant staff will graciously still make you a bouillabaisse for one, even though the menu says that it is only prepared for two or more people. (At least at La Miramar.)
Walks in the evening along the Old Port and main streets are very well lit, teeming with people and gorgeous. Especially when there is a full moon.
I took the train to Aix-en-Provence yesterday for lunch. For lunch. It only took 15 minutes to get there. And the train round trip was only 15 Euro. (The taxi from the TGV station to the Apple store was 30 Euro each way, so I clearly need to learn the bus/shuttle system.)
If you've been looking into visiting the South of France and have been scared away from Marseille, I'm telling you, you're missing out.