Connoisseurs from all over the world: in Marseille there is a travel itinerary for lovers of delicious candy. If you go to the French town, please let me know! I need you to do me a big favour. And before you ask, no, it’s not to bring me back some Marseille Soap or a bottle of Pastis! I went to Marseille in November, it was nice, I enjoyed it. However, as a local a shopkeeper admitted to me, it is true that in the evening during the winter there is not much to do. His exact words were: "It's quite dead!". But what I am still haunted by is the terrible mistake I made during the holiday. And it was a big one, like when you go to play soccer and you forget to put a towel in your gym bag.
Let me explain: I arrived at the airport and took the convenient shuttle bus (there's one every 10 minutes, which takes you to the Gare Saint Charles in no time, the station for trains and buses going to the center of Marseille). And during this short journey I was enlightened. From the highway I received a heavenly vision, for me at least, as I love candy. In Marseille there is a Haribo factory with adjoining shop. I felt like little Charlie Bucket, the protagonist of "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory": I had found the golden ticket to visit an enchanted place.
But I had come to Marseille with a prearranged travel itinerary: a day trip to the countryside in Aix-en-Provence, a night at the stadium to watch a soccer match (the new Velodrome is fantastic, if you have time you should go to watch a match with the Marseille team (Olympique de Marseille) who, by the way, are doing very well in the league this year) and an evening or two sampling the local food and drink, which particularly involved drinking rather too much Pastis (an anise liqueur that is produced in these parts, it’s 40 % alcohol (80’ proof) and is served as an aperitif). So, what with one thing and another, you’ll understand me when I say that I managed to completely forget the vision I saw in the bus. I got an unexpected shock when I set off on the return journey. I got back on the convenient shuttle bus and from the window I saw the Haribo factory.
No factory, no candy, DOH!
Remorse tormented me and so, once back in Italy, I made the situation worse. I did some research on the internet and found out that the factory was easily reachable from the center of Marseille by public transport (9 Boulevard Gay Lussac, 13014 Marseille, France). Not only that, but I then discovered that if I had remembered while still in France, I would have had the time and the opportunity to go to Uzes, a small town 150 km from Marseille, where Haribo has also opened – listen to how good this sounds – the "Musée du Bon Bon" (Candy Museum).
So there you have it, if you go to Marseille, please make me happy! Go and visit the shop, or the Candy Museum. At least my golden ticket will not have been wasted.
Original in Italian by Alessandro Giannace
January 15, 2015
Translation and adaptation into English by Ciarán Durkan