Keen to improve France’s image abroad in former times, local tourism authorities persuaded members of the travel industry in every arrondissement to sign a hospitality contract. This included an undertaking to adopt a friendlier approach to visitors, with ‘bonjour’ and ‘bienvenu’ signs displayed about hotels and restaurants. It had mixed success. The welcoming sign tended to be used as a substitute for bonhomie. When a visitor appeared, the maître d’ or receptionist would retain their air of studied insouciance, merely jerking a thumb in the general direction of the sign. But I like that attitude. And I like the French all the more for it. And it is Marseille writ large. Of course, this kind of outlook does put you on your guard. On my last visit I was queuing at one of the cabanes at L’Estaque, the next beach up from the Old Port, where stalls serve street food such as chichi frégi – a type of fried dough, a bit like churros but lighter. Dusted with sugar and accompanied by black coffee, it’s the perfect snack.