Each year, the European Union selects a Capital or Capitals of Culture to showcase not only the continent's rich heritage, but vibrant artistic and creative spirit. Marseilles seems like a bit of a gimme in this regard.
Sidled up to the Mediterranean along the Cote-de-Azur in the South of France, the city has had art in its veins since the paleolithic era gave the area its first cave paintings. Founded by the Greeks, bolstered by the Romans and besieged and sickened by just about everyone in between, Marseilles has always had the food of surrounding Provence and a steady stream of music to get it through the tough times.From the moment visitors arrive in its glass-enclosed train station (and they certainly should try getting there by rail or TGV to take in the surrounding countryside), there's an apparent otherness to the town that its Capitals of Culture events should only enhance. A cardboard city is already under construction, venues have been built and the area's surrounding cattle herds are being prepared for a trip into the city for one big, smelly living art event. Remember, it's not strange, it's Marseilles.