At Maison Empereur

Inigo Thomas

Where would I find a hardware store in Marseille? I was on holiday fifty miles north of the city. ‘The Maison Empereur,’ my friend replied. ‘It’s an amazing place.’ The next morning, I drove to the coast: the hardware shop is near the old port. Marseille was founded 2600 years ago by Phocaeans, Greeks from Anatolia, known for their coinage and for the galleys they made to move themselves, their merchandise and their money, from one end of the Mediterranean to the other. The city’s port has forever been central to the trade of the sea: in Fernand Braudel’s The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip II, Marseille is mentioned so often that when you turn to its entry in the book’s index, you find no page numbers, just a word – passim.

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