Postcard of photos around the concept of Plus Belle la Vie in Marseille, November 2015

Plus Belle la Vie is the peak-time French television soap opera about life in Marseille. The cast and crew of PBLV can often be seen filming video in and around Marseille. Nonetheless, storylines in PBLV have about as much to do with the lives of actual Marseillais as those of the UK’s Eastenders or Coronation Street do with their corresponding real-life locations.

Translation of the phrase Plus Belle la Vie isn’t easy without loosing the allusions and resonances of the phrase. Literally it corresponds to “Life is good” or “The good life” or “This is the life”, referring perhaps to the beautiful Marseille dawns, renowned blue sky and the fine Mediterranean beaches..

You can also refer to plus belle la ligne in French, meaning a really good crew or operation, ie the best. There’s also an ironic usage of plus belle la vie, something like “They’re all at it” or “Life’s a bitch” or “Isn’t life wonderful”’, the verbal equivalent of a Mediterranean shrug.

As well as a colourful Provence dawn with the planet Jupiter showing even on a low res postcard, I’m featuring a couple of less well-known Marseille landmarks. The Parc du 26e Centenaire, which is geographically and conceptually based on the railway station Gare du Prado, which it replaces on the same site, reusing railway architecture including platforms and tunnel portals.

Hidden away near the beaches is the building of the Ballet National de Marseille, the prestigious Centre Chorégraphique National. Maybe not the first organisation which comes to mind as being based in Marseille: ah well, as they say, « Plus Belle la Vie » !