Marseille + The Doors

Fallen Arches

At the beginning of the 19th century, French writer Stendhal observed, “The house doors remind me of those in London. They are of polished wood with brass knockers, and raised by two steps off the pavement which is separated from the street by a running stream of clear water.”

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Marseille + Marilynne Robinson

A Seraphic Calling 

“We know only what we know, only in the ways that we know it or can know it.” MR. On a morning of utter unimpeachable freshness, it’s time to enjoy a latitudinal view of experience. No curtailment of grace, or majesty, thank you. Efficacious, beautiful, vital, satisfying, glorious. “We wander the terrain of a very remarkable freedom.” You guessed. MR again.

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Sofitel Vieux Port Hotel Marseille + Paul Cézanne

Unstill Life

“Well, life is full of surprises,” proclaims essayist and novelist Marilynne Robinson. Couldn’t agree more. We’ve just woken up in Marseille. South of France. A night in Provence. There’s more. Breakfast in bed in the Mediterranean city’s best address. Perfection. Nowhere better to enjoy the experiential rhapsodies of reality. So far, so great, Sofitel Vieux Port. The Paul Cézanne inspired five star retreat. Marilynne believes, “Beauty is a strategy of emphasis.” Sofitel mirrors the artist’s strengths, offering a fine balancing between tradition and innovation, suffused with light and imbued with beauty; a distinctive manner of looking, a novel system of application. Pétanque, anyone?

Protestant work ethic gone astray, it’s over to Wallpaper* to extol the delights of Sofitel’s Les Trois Forts restaurant: “The restaurant at the top of the Sofitel Vieux Port doesn’t just have one of the best views in the city – taking in, you guessed it, three forts – it also has one of the greatest chefs in France running the kitchen. Dominique Frerard is a painstaking, ultra meticulous, details guy of the first order and highlight decorated for it.” Meanwhile, Sofitel’s famous feather down pillows (intrinsic to the temporal, a present pleasure) form the perfect companions to considering the mysteries of consciousness. The view’s pretty dreamy, too.

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La Tourette Marseille + Fernand Pouillon

The Divine Architect

“I am content to place humankind at the centre of Creation. We are complex enough, interesting enough… I find the soul a valuable concept, a statement of the dignity of a human life and of the unutterable gravity of human action and experience.” So says Christian philosopher Marilynne Robinson. Fernand Pouillon was the architect of this influential Postwar housing scheme overlooking Fort St Jean at the tip of Marseille’s Vieux Port. Completed in 1953, it quickly became something of a prototype. How to do modernism. A lesson in proportion. Rising to 21 storeys, precast concrete decks with cross walls in shuttered concrete and external walls faced with stone casing produced a lasting effect. La Tourette continues to offer sleek slices of desirable urban living.

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Marseille +

Webs of Moment and Meaning and Memory

American writer Marilynne Robinson is enthralled by this “roaring, surging universe”. Witness, the fury of the Mistral. Here’s to zoomorphia: cathedral as zebra.

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Marseille + Corniche President John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Onward to Camelot

A pericope scooped from Marilynne Robinson’s writings: “We came from somewhere, and we are travelling somewhere, and the spectacle is glorious and portentous.”

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Marseille + Traverse de la Fausse Monnaie

De Temps en Temps

Gardens to tarry in.

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Marseille + Anse de la Fausse Monnaie

The Wealth of Nations

A kind of dark gorgeousness. It does translate, after all, as the Cove of Counterfeit Money.

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Marseille + Vallon des Auffes

Up Ship Creek

Below and beyond Marseille’s marvellous Mediterranean Corniche, the Valley of Grass ascends to hillside bastides and descends to coastal cabanons: from country houses to cosy cabins.

Shabby chic: a tired old phrase for a tired old style, but Marseille does shabby chic with (rusted) bells on.

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Frioul Archipelago + Chateau d’If Marseille

Blue is the New Black

Blue Coast, Blue Flag, Lavender’s Blue.

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