Marseille is a dirty city, speckled with trash and covered in graffiti. It is also a fascinating city, enhanced by its blend of cultures. Located on the Mediterranean, its history dates back 30,000 years. In the 4th century it was one of the major trading posts of the ancient world. Twice the population was all but wiped out by a plague. In 1348, Marseille was struck by the bubonic plague. In 1720, due to the greed of a merchant who did not report the suspicious deaths of several passengers, the Great Plague of Marseille (Black Plague) killed 100,000 inhabitants and nearly wiped Marseille off the map. The architecture, winding streets, colorful markets, nearby cliffs (les calanques) and excellent museums make it well worth visiting.
Due to an error in my reservation, I was assigned to the staff apartment. Each night I had different roommates who had also encountered errors in their reservations. My bed reminded me of Van Gogh’s Bedroom in Arles.
After spending the morning drawing the curved stairs and giant fountain of the Palais de Longchamp, I retreated out of the intense heat into Musee Des Beaux-Arts where I discovered at least a dozen painters whose work I want to study.
When I returned to Marseille at the end of my trip, I continued to explore the city and sketch the fountains, the artifacts and, of course, the hostel cafe as I waited for the hundreds of photos to upload to Dropbox so that I could take them off of my phone and have room for the next day’s photos.
Drawings: Drawn in ink with a fountain pen in a small moleskin sketchbook.