Beach in Marseille
France,  Travel

Stereotypes of Marseille – 8 clichés things you can hear about the Marseillais

Marseille is a city of controversies. Many say that it’s a hot, dangerous and smelling place where people speak weird French. Well, there are surely many stereotypes about the second city of France and many of them are true. But it doesn’t mean that Marseille doesn’t have its charm and can’t surprise you positively


What are the most clichés things you can hear about Marseillais?

1. All people in Marseille play boule called la pétanque.

La pétanque was originated in La Ciotat, a town not far from Marseille so the people want to keep the tradition. Also, the weather there is just perfect for such sport.

Playing boule in L’Estaque
Playing boule in L’Estaque

2. All women are cagole.

First – what does this mysterious cagole means? French people call specific type of women from Marseille with this word. The women who are bleached blonde, like to wear short dresses and have a lot of makeup. In public they speak very loud, always having a chewing gum and walk the way everyone would look at them. It is a pejorative word but nowadays it associates with a free woman who can do whatever she wants and doesn’t let people to “walk on her”.

La Cagole
La Cagole Image : Emilie Sandoval

3. They hate Parisians.

The rivalries between Paris and Marseille last for many years because of passion for football. They love their teams and will support them until the end of the world! Also, they have a different perception of life than Parisians who work a lot and are always in rush and stressed. Where can people of Marseille run as fast as possible? Maybe to the beach…

Beach in Marseille
Beach in Marseille

4. They are the typical Mediterranean who loves “siesta” and hates working.

Totally true – siesta is a saint thing in Marseille. Let’s not be surprised – the hot weather is tiring and nothing makes you gain some extra energy like 30 min nap.

5. It is a dangerous city.

It is well known that Marseille is a dangerous city, the offenders are everywhere. Often we can hear in TV that another gun shoot took place in the capital of Provence. On the other hand, the media focus on the delinquency of Marseille which exists also in other French cities.


6. The Marseillais have their own concept of geography.

Well, they live in very south of France so basically, all other cities are on the north for them…

map of france accoring mareilleise
Map of France according to Marseillaise

7. They all drink pastis.

It is an anise drink of 40% alcohol, very popular in Marseille. It is usually drunk with water which gives it milky color and it’s called “the milk of Provence”. How drinking such big quantities is explained by the habitats of Marseille? Well, they proved that it reduces intestinal discomfort as well as helps with diarrhea.

8. Marseille is dirty and smells bad.

It’s not the cleanest city which I saw near Le Rove – bags of garbage everywhere in such beautiful area. However, Marseille is a big port, people eat many fishes so maybe the smells come from there?

Fish market in old port (center of Marseille)
Fish market in old port (center of Marseille)

Definitely, Marseille doesn’t have a good reputation in France but there are many amazing places to visit in the city itself as well as in villages around.  You can check out my other posts abot What to do during 7 days in Marseille or beautiful places to see near Marseille.

One Comment

  • paul

    We’re a group of volunteers and starting a new scheme in our community. Your website provided us with valuable information to work on. You’ve done an impressive job and our entire community will be thankful to you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *