IES Abroad Excursion to Marseille

Kate Allen headshot
Kate Allen
March 17, 2024


I just arrived home from the IES Abroad trip to Marseilles, and I want to tell you all about it!

On Wednesday morning, I woke up at 5 a.m. and headed over to the IES Abroad center to drop off my bags. I am in the Global Pillars: Designing the Sustainable City course, so we had a slightly different itinerary than the other two groups. We got to take the train instead of riding on the bus, and at around 7 a.m., we were off! 

We arrived in Marseille at 9 a.m. and our first stop was Le Talus urban garden. This was probably my favorite sight of the entire tripit was so interesting to see sustainability in action, especially in a major city center. Our tour guide walked us through the plot of land, which is home to greenhouses and dry bathrooms and more! They rent out plots of land to local people that want to take part in their initiative. Le Talus also has a huge group of volunteers that come every day to help out with daily operations. It was impressive, to say the least. 

After stopping for a quick falafel lunch, we went to a museum called MUCEM near the port. This museum was cool, but not my favorite. It has a large variety of artifacts that correlate to its “popular culture” exhibit, but I think my group and I had trouble following along with the tour. Our last activity of the day was a quick stop at the history museum of Marseille. This was actually inside a mall and it had a cool exhibit about Marseille’s resistance during WWII. After that, I was exhausted and went back to my hotel to rest. 

On Thursday, we walked! My group had a walking tour throughout the hilly streets of Marseille. The sun was shining and it was a beautiful way to see the city, as our hotels were located right by the Port and we didn’t go much further on the first day. We stopped at a soap shop and I bought a few items to bring back to the United States as gifts for friends and family.  

We also hiked up to the Basilica Notre-Dame de la Garde, which had stunning views overlooking Marseille. We were able to take the bus down the massive hill (because we were running behind), so we didn’t have to walk. Thank goodness! The bus took us straight to the Cosquer museum, where we had a simulated tour of the replicated Cosquer cave, which was discovered in 1985 by Henri Cosquer. It was fascinating to see the ancient drawings on the cave walls and the remnants of fires left behind by people that explored the cave years and years ago. 

On Friday, the last day of our trip, we had a full-group boat trip! It was a relaxing end to the trip, where we were able to see Calanque National Park and the location of the real Cosquer cave. We also stopped at Château d’If, a former prison on an island off of Marseille. We all enjoyed sandwiches halfway through the boat tour, and some people drifted off to sleep…

The trip was a true success. I enjoyed exploring a new city and seeing so many different things in a packed three days. It was also a great opportunity to meet new friends. With a month and change left in our semester abroad, I am feeling grateful to be meeting new people and making new memories. 

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Kate Allen

Hi! My name is Kate Allen and I am a third year at the University of Virginia, studying Foreign Affairs and Global Commerce. I love to read, cook, take photos, and explore. 

2024 Spring
Home University:
University of Virginia
International Business
International Relations
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