During the second wave of the coronavirus in Europe, France declared two of her largest metropolises, Paris and Marseille, as Covid-19 red zones, but no lockdown was imposed.
When the first wave hit France, Marseille was a green zone and was able to control the situation despite the high number of deaths in the country and many tourists who were moving into the port city.
But as soon as the lockdown was over, many tourists from all over France and Europe came to this Mediterranean haven. Fearing an outbreak, Marseille was declared a red zone.
During that moment, we were on the train to Marseille from Paris, planning to stay one whole week in this lovely, sunny place.
Although international tourists prefer Paris over Marseille for the museums and palaces, French people and other Europeans are fans of this ancient port city mainly because of its marvelous sunny weather, perfect blue sky, historical monuments and the graffiti works.
I fell in love with Marseille during my first visit last summer and since then I have always looked for a chance to breathe under its crystal blue sky again.
But the pandemic has changed the world, so even though we were travelling, we had to be cautious at every step.
Marseille surprised us with a big crowd! They were all over, in the port, by the museums and castles, on the narrow streets, all over!
For a red zone, its people were very mobile.
When we visited the local fish and vegetable markets, they were full of visitors throughout the day and night.
Seeing all those people got us confused. Was Marseille going to be safe for us? But the locals as well as the tourists seemed happy and relaxed.
One of the smallest islands in Marseille is the Château d'If which is known all over the world as Alexandre Dumas mentioned this prison island in his novel "The Count of Monte Cristo".
This once fortress prison from where none escaped alive in 400 years, is now a museum and is always on the top list of visitors of Marseille.
We had to go there by cruise boats, and one of them was named Edmund Dantés, after the main character of the novel.
Everything was allowed as part of the red zone policy, all one needed was to wear a mask.
You were not allowed to go to the markets without a mask, social distancing was also maintained.
However, we heard from a local friend that the hospitals in Marseille had almost no patients and certainly no death cases.
Than why was it declared a red zone? Some found the reason political, some think it was a strategy to prevent more causality.
Sunset is one of the most beautiful things in Marseille, there are several places from where you can see the sun going down.
We visited six of them, each day a new spot, and we found all of them to be crowded.
Local friends informed us that as soon as things began to improve, people began to leave their home and visit these spots for a bit of fresh air.
But there were many who stayed home for two months during the lockdown and only went out to get food.
Few popular museums were still closed, but the cathedral and castle was open.
The most popular place in Marseille is of course the port, where there are thousands of yacht anchored in the blue water and an open market around it.
There are endless shops and sea-food restaurants all around the port and the narrow hilly allies are covered with graffiti.
In those seven days that we stayed, we walked on all the famous streets of Marseille and visited every famous building, at least from the outside.
It was a different type of experience in a red zone area which was full of tourists.
But the people and the authority were concerned about the situation, so they faced it responsibly and tried to return to normal life.