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Posts tagged ‘Heat’

Marseille to Marbella, Part I: Downtown City

Marseille is one of those cities that’s got a bit of a reputation. Like Naples and Palermo, (and even Barcelona before its Olympics regeneration), Marseille is characterised by an idyllic location which has been both its enemy and its friend. For with popularity has also come rapid growth, and the result is an uncontrolled urban sprawl where street crime has taken the place of riviera recreation, and the high temperatures have combined with a generalised lethargy to improve what are often grave social divides and ever evident crime and economic issues. Yet for all that, Marseille is a city with an undeniable arresting quality; which is so historically wealthy and with so vibrant and diverse a population that you cannot help but be mesmerised.


Such is Marseille, France’s second city, and in many respects like Paris by the sea, except that in Marseille the social divide is perhaps even more visible. Here, Haussmann mansions have been given a graffiti facelift, and where the Seine would cut through Paris with all its luxuriant wateriness, in Marseille the sea, and all its accompanying ship building industrial heritage and fishing paraphernalia, predominates all.

This first look at our summer trip from Marseille down to Marbella takes the Daily Norm back a few weeks, to the sunny days of August when temperatures were at an all time high. Our arrival, on the Eurostar train from London into Marseille’s Gare St Charles, was one greeted by temperatures close to the 40s. Yet this was no blue-shuttered port or seaside retreat in which to enjoy the summer weather at ease. Marseille hit us with the full impact of its teeming urban sprawl which literally shimmered in the heat as the fumes of traffic and food and generalised humanity combined with fresh sea breezes and an awful lot of sunshine.


From streets crammed with shops and markets, and bustling with faces from across the world, to the city’s true heart, the Vieux Port, where people milled to watch boats stride in and out of the harbour, it wasn’t hard to get to know Marseille: a city which wears its heart on its sleeve and is emotionally, viscerally real.

Marseille may be the capital of the French Riviera but St Tropez it is not. Rather, this thriving metropolis combines elements from across France and its ancient empire: it is a true world city with an evidently international demographic. What it lacks in luxury, it makes up for in spirit. And as you can see from this first raft of photos, it is a city of a not insignificant aesthetic appeal.

Bienvenue à Marseille!

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2017. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Marbella Twenty-Thirteen | Life’s a Beach

My second selection of photographs from my two week rendezvous in Spain’s Marbella is, for a town named after the beautiful sea which laps up along its sandy shores, rather appropriately collected around a beach theme. For without long days languishing along the plentiful sandy stretches, dipping in and out of the warm Mediterranean sea, and breathing in the mixed smells of sun tan cream, the salty sea breeze, and the acrid fishy smoke from barbequed sardines roasting upon one of the many beach chiringitos, a holiday in Marbella would lose its soul.

I didn’t take my camera to the beach nearly as much as we took ourselves along – after all, those pesky grains of sand tend to get everywhere, and a rogue sandy particle imbedding itself within the internal mechanisms of my camera is one holiday souvenir I can easily do without. However, those few occasions when my camera remained at my side were pretty active in the photography stakes. One feature of the beach which never failed to inspire me was the kaleidoscope of colours on offer.

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Under the bluest of blue skies, the sea took on a welcoming turquoise creaminess, while the sand glowed yellow and beige. Against that backdrop the hundreds of beach umbrellas brought along by the daily beach masses provided the finishing touches to what were an entire rainbow of vivid tones. One of my favourite photos just has to be the beach viewed from the paseo above, tanned crowds packing onto the sands and the swathe of multi-coloured umbrellas extending for as far as the eye can see – a vast snaking swirl of beach activity, and the very epitome of the Spanish summer season.

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2013 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.