Sixteen students taking CL1091 and CM2006, Modern to Contemporary in the Arab World and Media Globalization: Middle Eastern Perspectives, travelled to Marseille from 2 to 4 October in the company of professors David Tresilian and Justin McGuinness to investigate the role the city plays in the Mediterranean region and as a point of intersection between Europe and the Arab World.

The oldest city in France and the country’s main Mediterranean port, Marseille has long been the first port of call for visitors to France from North Africa and the wider Mediterranean. The city has a large and thriving Arabic-speaking population, and daily ferries leave its port on their way to Tunis or Algiers. Long known as France’s Gateway to North Africa, Marseille today has seen extensive development, notably in the context of the French state Euroméditerranée Project and the renovations associated with its role as European Capital of Culture in 2013.

During their visit to the city, students visited the Musée des Civilisations de l’Europe et de la Méditerranée, a new museum, opened in 2013, dedicated to Mediterranean civilizations, and the Musée d’Histoire de Marseille. The visit was an opportunity to explore the city, as well as being an introduction to the French region of Provence. A walking tour of the Old Town and a boat trip out around the bay rounded off what proved to be a very memorable weekend.