Experience and advice:
how to get by in Marseille

Here you will find a selection of extracts (both text and audio) taken from accounts by people who have arrived in Marseille in recent years. The extracts share their experiences, tips and advice.

Extract from Récit de Mosa • 35 years old • Man • Soudanais

I went to meet the CIMADE, who helped me prepare my appeal. Today I am waiting for a hearing at the CNDA. And the Cimade, besides that for the use of CNDA, has helped me for many steps, like finding...

Extract from Récit de Mosa • 35 years old • Man • Soudanais

I am a class in several places: in the Friche de la Belle de Mai, on the boulevard Baille at the Amicale du Nid, in Tétraccord and at the Manba. (Note QX1: Course schedules are up to date on the...

Extract from Récit de Mosa • 35 years old • Man • Soudanais

Even for the ADA I had to insist to the OFII: after 45 days of delay, they made a reminder mail so that my allowance could finally be paid. Moreover, with the activation of the ADA, the OFII...

Extract from Récit de Mosa • 35 years old • Man • Soudanais

Seeing all this world at the OFII and finding that no hosting solution was proposed to me, I gave up... In the meantime I had the chance to know people of the collective Migrant Support – El Manba,...

Extract from Récit de Mosa • 35 years old • Man • Soudanais

With regard to accommodation (for asylum seekers), no solution has been proposed to me by the institutions: I made 4 attempts, by going to the OFII early in the morning. But every time there was a...

Extract from Récit de Snezana et Dzemail • 30 years old • Family • Serbe

We requested accommodation by showing the documents of the Doctor of the Rimbaud PASS (Dzemail had an important surgery in Serbia. It is followed by the hospital of La Timone.) When we showed this...

Extract from Récit de Snezana et Dzemail • 30 years old • Family • Serbe

At first the Asylum Platform (PADA) did not register us to go to the restaurant Noga... Today it's been three months since we have the asylum seeker allowance (ADA) We were yesterday at the OFII,...

Short audio extract produced by the group Cours de Français du Kiosque (Belle de Mai)

When I arrived in Marseille I was ill and needed treatment. A friend told me about Médécins du monde. I went there and I saw a doctor who gave me some drugs. He didn't ask for my papers, only...

Short audio extract produced by the group Planète sans visas (Cours de français)

Imaje Santé is an association in Marseille. It helps young people between the ages of 12 and 25. They have social workers, doctors and psychologists. It helps young people who are ill, or who...

Extract from Récit de Daniel • 40 years old • Man • Cameroonian

A month after my first visit to the Prefecture I was summoned their again because my one-month residence permit was coming to an end. They explained that they had discovered that my fingerprints...

Extract from Récit de Laura • 30 years old • Woman • Venezuelian

Noailles is not my favorite place on earth, but when I arrived in Marseille it became my Disneyland. I knew all the shopkeepers: the charcutier, the butcher, the greengrocer. It was a nice feeling;...

    Extract from Récit de Laura • 30 years old • Woman • Venezuelian

    When I lost my documents the Health Insurance Office demanded that I present a residence permit. That's when I went back accompanied by my current employer. He told them that I didn't need a...

    Extract from Récit de July • 25 years old • Woman • Pakistani

    I went to the CPAM (Caisse Primaire d'Assurance Maladie, Health Insurance Office) to apply for cover twice. The first time I presented my European Health Insurance Card I received in Italy. The...

    Extract from Récit de July • 25 years old • Woman • Pakistani

    Once I have my Pakistani passport, the Italian state will give me a visa with a different code containing two letters (EU, I suppose) that certifies that I can move and work freely in Europe.

    Extract from Récit de July • 25 years old • Woman • Pakistani

    For my ADEF application I had provided an Italian document stating my identity and on which was noted my Pakistani nationality... But in Italy I had had an unlimited residence permit! I didn't think...

    Extract from Récit de July • 25 years old • Woman • Pakistani

    When I arrived (from Italy) I thought I'd sign up for a language class organised by the ADEF (Association départementale d'Études et de Formation, Departmental Association for Study and Training)....

    Extract from Récit de Omer • 30 years old • Man • Kurdish

    Casa Consolat, a social and solidarity centre, serves meals after the lunchtime service if there is any food left.

    Short audio extract produced by the group Théâtre de l'Oeuvre (exposition participative)

    There is a big market near the Bougainville métro station. The prices there are very low. It's the flea market and you can find foodstuffs, fruit and vegetables, spices, but also clothes,...

    Extract from Récit de Sabrine • 35 years old • Woman • Egyptian

    A few months later I receive the documents, but it's just a provisional receipt for my application... a receipt is just great! Except that employers don't want to hire you if you don't have a full...

    Short audio extract produced by the group Cours de Langue du Kiosque (Belle de Mai)

    At Saint-Charles station, opposite the university, associations give out food and hot meals at night. You can ask for clothes, blankets. There are supportive people there that help us.

    Extract from Récit de Marcello • 35 years old • Man • Italian

    Some French friends told me about associations that act as guarantors, but in fact all they can do is pay a part (or in some cases all) of the deposit.

    Extract from Récit de Agit • 31 years old • Man • Kurdish

    I finally passed my bac last year. Twelve years after arriving here. In ordre to do so I took French lessons  at the university to learn to read and write and then I sat the literature exam. I...

    Extract from Récit de Omer • 30 years old • Man • Kurdish

    On the Cours Julien is Noga Restaurant, a social restaurant, which serves meals to people in need. However, they need to be sent there by external providers. In the case of refugees they are...

    Extract from Récit de Kenji • 30 years old • Man • Japanese

    My problem then was that I had to go back to Japan in September and I wasn't sure if the receipt (for my residence permit application gave me the right to. I received contradictory advice regarding...

    Extract from Récit de Gabriela • 30 years old • Woman • Chilian

    In any case, financially, it was a complicated period: the master's degree was funded with an Erasmus Mundus grant. These scholarships are aimed at both European and non-European students. For...

    Extract from Récit de Gabriela • 30 years old • Woman • Chilian

    What I learned was that there are a number of ways to obtain a residence permit for professional reasons: you can apply as a self-employed worker("auto entrepreneur"), as a salaried employee, or even...

    Extract from Récit de Kenji • 30 years old • Man • Japanese

    I went to the Prefectture at 6 am and got in the queue. I had to go back a number of times because only a small number of people can be seen each day. When I finally managed to to get a number all...

    Extract from Récit de Gabriela • 30 years old • Woman • Chilian

    This year I worked part-time in a bookshop, l'Histoire de l'Oeil, for a fair-trade association (on a government subsidised contract) helping with setting up a project to sell books, and most recently...

    Extract from Récit de Gabriela • 30 years old • Woman • Chilian

    When I finally registered with Pôle Emploi (the French employment agency) I had a hard time understanding how things worked. I think I was removed from the register twice in the space of a few...

    As an asylum seeker I would have been eligible for a place in a reception centre for asylum seekers (Centre d'accueil de demandeurs d'asile - CADA), but the Asylum Platform always told me that there...

    Extract from Récit de Gabriela • 30 years old • Woman • Chilian

    That was the time when I was closest to reveiving an obligation to leave French territory (OQTF)... at the time it was still called an "Invitation to leave..." They replaced "invitation" with...

    Extract from Récit de Tiziano • 25 years old • Man • Italian

    My employer needed my social security number in order to fill in my contract file (and I needed a Carte Vitale (a health insurance card), in case something happened to me...). And all that took a...

    Extract from Récit de Naima • 35 years old • Woman • Algerian

    So, I found another apartment at 650€, less expensive, with 5 rooms. I found it by chance, chatting with someone. My mother lived just below. I noticed the apartment was empty so I talked to the...

    Extract from Récit de Omer • 30 years old • Man • Kurdish

    They explained to me that to apply for asylum I had to go through the Asylum Platform who arranged an appointement at the Prefecture. That is what I did and I am currently waiting to be summoned by...

    Extract from Récit de Kenji • 30 years old • Man • Japanese

    The residence permit application receipt also enabled me, finally, to sign job contracts in France. Until then I had worked in the kitchens of Japanese restaurants. I had also visited a number of...

    Extract from Récit de Kenji • 30 years old • Man • Japanese

    I arrived in Europe, in Germany to be precise, in 2010. I lived there for 3-4 years, at first on a one-year visa, and then later with two renewals for 2 years each. The first was a Working Holiday...

    Extract from Récit de Naima • 35 years old • Woman • Algerian

    Concerning health, because at first I didn't have the CMU (Universal Health Insurance), people at the Conception Hospital helped me and told me where I should go. At the time, there was a social...

    Extract from Récit de Naima • 35 years old • Woman • Algerian

    "When we first arrived in Marseille, in Belsunce, with Oussama, I had trouble getting milk, nappies. We got help from the Secours Catholique in the Belle de Mai area. it was really a lo. ng way to go...

    Extract from Récit de Naima • 35 years old • Woman • Algerian

    Once you have the receipt for your application you have the right to work, but that's all, you are not entitled to benefits. Having a residence permit gives you the right to everything.

    Extract from Récit de Omer • 30 years old • Man • Kurdish

    The first problem in Marseille was accommodation: the majority of young Kurds that I met lived with their families, their parents, and they had no way of taking me in. I spent the first two months...

    Extract from Récit de Agit • 31 years old • Man • Kurdish

    It took me 4 1/2 years to obtain a residence permit. And to do so I entered a civil partnership with my then companion. The CIMADE helped me a lot with the administrative steps needed for the civil...

    Extract from Récit de Marcello • 35 years old • Man • Italian

    French institutional websites are much too complicated. You get the impression you are reading the statutes. There are never any simple diagrams letting you grasp the key information easily. You have...

    Extract from Récit de Mahmoud • 25 years old • Man • Senegalese

    It's meeting people that saved me. I walked down the steps of St. Charles train station and on the boulevard I met a Sudanese man. I explained my situation to him and he took me to an association...

    However, I've applied for state medical support (AME) at the social security office on the Canébière. I went there with a friend and she helped me. Luckily, I'm not suffering from anything. I'm...

    Extract from Récit de Mahmoud • 25 years old • Man • Senegalese

    Concerning food: there's breakfast and dinner at Rue de Forbin. Lunchtime isn't easy there so I was obliged, between 10 am and 11 am, to go to the nuns of the Missionaries of Charity, 11 Avenue...

    Extract from Récit de Omer • 30 years old • Man • Kurdish

    There are lots of associations and associative bars that help a lot and it's easy to get in contact with them and work with them as a volunteer. That is what happened when I found Casa Consolat and...

    Extract from Récit de Omer • 30 years old • Man • Kurdish

    When I arrived in Marseille all I had was a small rucksack because I thought I would be returning home a week later. I found myself here with no clothes and no money. I didn't find anywhere to get...

    Extract from Récit de Omer • 30 years old • Man • Kurdish

    Between the train station and the Réformés neighbourhood there are a number of Kurdish restaurants. Le Marmara, for example. They're good restaurants, cheap, and they are places where you can get...

    Extract from Récit de Omer • 30 years old • Man • Kurdish

    At the Asylum Platform I felt the people there were fully invested in accompanying the applicants, but I also saw that that wouldn't be possible because of the lack of means compared to the number of...

    Extract from Récit de Thomas • 35 years old • Man • German

    As a German, you don't have to go to the Prefecture to register or apply for a residence permit; my German identity card is accepted gives me the right to stay in France.

    Extract from Récit de Thomas • 35 years old • Man • German

    At the same time I was following French lessons subsidised by the EU at the CIERES (Centres d'innovation pour l'emploi et le reclassement, Centre for Employment and Social Reclassification...

    Extract from Récit de Thomas • 35 years old • Man • German

    At the time I was looking for work in the hotel and restaurant sector. To prepare my image for this field of work before going to interviews I went to lots of garage sales and unofficial curbside...

    Extract from Récit de Thomas • 35 years old • Man • German

    I started with some odd jobs: distributing flyers in Aix, for example, for the CRIJPA (Centre régional information jeunesse Provence Alpes, Regional Youth Information Centre Provence-Alpes), on the...

    Extract from Récit de Thomas • 35 years old • Man • German

    I hitchhiked to Marseille, my rucksack on my back. I couchsurfed for the first week. The person who put me up gave me some very good advice: he told me about rezoprospec. It's an exchange network...

    Extract from Récit de Sabrine • 35 years old • Woman • Egyptian

    "Ten days before the mariage, the visa is ready: as I'm collecting it I see on the document that it is a "VISA France", the Schengen area is not mentioned at all. And my flight is with Lufthansa with...

    Extract from Récit de Sabrine • 35 years old • Woman • Egyptian

    The employee at the Prefecture replied: "But you're married! You don't need a residence permit anymore. All you need is your family record book. --- Keep it with you at all times so you can show it...

    Extract from Récit de Omer • 30 years old • Man • Kurdish

    The problem is that since the murder of three Kurdish militants in Paris in 2013, Kurdish cultural centres abroad are hidden as they are frightened of possible actions of the Turkish secret services....

    Extract from Récit de Kenji • 30 years old • Man • Japanese

    The problem is that when we look at the Prefecture's website neither my girlfriend nor myself can understand a thing. It is mainly the CIMADE that helped us by explaining what we needed and what our...

    Extract from Récit de Kenji • 30 years old • Man • Japanese

    Thus, I was able to unblock my situation thanks to the CIMADE and, before them, the people that told me to go to see them, Japanese friends that run the Okasan and Tako San restaurants in the city...

    Extract from Récit de Tiziano • 25 years old • Man • Italian

    It's clear that at first I didn'tb know all the different ways to express myself and the codes used here... Over time, for example, I understood how I should deal with Pôle Emploi. At first, I was...

    Extract from Récit de Tiziano • 25 years old • Man • Italian

    In the meantime, I had already started going to Casa Consolat. That is where I was advised to contact the Local Mission on the Avenue de Toulon because I was still under 26 years old (that was the...

    Extract from Récit de Tiziano • 25 years old • Man • Italian

    After 2 months I felt confident enough to talk in French and look for a job. I translated my CV into French and I began to distribute it all over town. Later, I was told I should change it a bit in...

    #CV
    Extract from Récit de Mahmoud • 25 years old • Man • Senegalese

    I concentrated on the positive encounteres. At the Forbin centre I met a young Guinean who knew of a collective dedicated to supporting migrants: El Manba. That's where I got to know lots of really...

    Extract from Récit de Tiziano • 25 years old • Man • Italian

    It seems that procedures are not set in stone. Once, a Social Security Office employee asked for my Italian health insurance card, assuring me that it would facilitate my application in France. In...

    Extract from Récit de Omer • 30 years old • Man • Kurdish

    Not knowing anyone in Marseille I decided to go to Switzerland where I had friends and acquaintances who were from my hometown. I took a train to Basel where a friend offered to put me up. In...

    Extract from Récit de Mahmoud • 25 years old • Man • Senegalese

    And there's the housing commission of the Soutien Migrant collective (El Mamba. That's how I managed to find new accommodation when Forbin told me that I couldn't stay any longer. I thought I'd be...

    Extract from Récit de Mahmoud • 25 years old • Man • Senegalese

    Sport also helped me meet people. Football, going to Vallier sports ground; ther are matches every wednesday and thursday ay Korsec stadium in Belsunce. I've got to know lots of people through sport,...

    Extract from Récit de Kenji • 30 years old • Man • Japanese

    At the CADE (Centre d'Accès au Droit des Étrangers, Centre for Foreigners' Rights) they explained that I had no choice: I had to return to Japan to request a French visa. This solution, however,...

    Extract from Récit de Omer • 30 years old • Man • Kurdish

    The fact that I couldn't go back to Diyarbakir also meant the end of of my university career. I only had two more exams to sit before finishing my course. I asked the Asylum Platform: could I finish...

    Extract from Récit de Gabriela • 30 years old • Woman • Chilian

    "Studies finished, this is now my situation: I have a temporary residence permit titled "jobseeking student post professional master's degree". It's a provisional residence permit lasting 12 months...

    Extract from Récit de Tiziano • 25 years old • Man • Italian

    When I arrived in Marseille I knew nothing about the city or about France (I was trying to reach an English-speaking country), but a friend I knew here put me up for the first month. After that I...

    Extract from Récit de Kenji • 30 years old • Man • Japanese

    We decided to get married, we liked the idea in any case! But because my girlfriend is Italian, and in addition unemployed in France, after getting advice from the CIMADE, we decided to get married...

    Extract from Récit de Gabriela • 30 years old • Woman • Chilian

    Sometimes I looked at institutional websites. You can find precise information about what documents you need to present, for example, but not very much else. Personally, I have always prefered to...

    Extract from Récit de Gabriela • 30 years old • Woman • Chilian

    In order to understand things more clearly I went to the CIMADE (inter-movement committee for aid to refugees) where I was well taken care of. The criteria for obtaining a residence permit were...

    Extract from Récit de Marcello • 35 years old • Man • Italian

    In human terms, and especially thanks to music, I can say that I have never really had any problems. Quite the opposite in fact. With regards to the bureaucracy, things have been harder. When I moved...

    Extract from Récit de Marcello • 35 years old • Man • Italian

    As I said, when I arrived everything was simple thanks to my job and the apartment I was offered. In the long run, it's mostly my French friends who have given me the best tips. The friend who cooks...

    Extract from Récit de Marcello • 35 years old • Man • Italian

    I have often found it difficult to have my Italian diplomas and credentials recognised by Pôle Emploi (the French employment agency). They sometimes told me that I should sit exams in France in...

    Extract from Récit de Marcello • 35 years old • Man • Italian

    After having received my Individualised Housing Allowance (APL) for a number of months a number of different problems occured one after the other leading to my allowance being stopped. For example,...

    Extract from Récit de Marcello • 35 years old • Man • Italian

    At the same time, I went to the CAF (Family Allowance Fund) to get information about housing benefits (Aides Personalisées au Logement -APL, Individualised Housing Allowance). After hours of...

    Extract from Récit de Marcello • 35 years old • Man • Italian

    Getting guarantors was the single biggest obstacle to renting accommodation. My family live in Italy and French landlords distrust guarantors who live abroad. I think they believe that if there are...

    Extract from Récit de Marcello • 35 years old • Man • Italian

    I therefore had to apply for a Carte Vitale (Health Insurance Card) at the Social Security Office by presenting my birth certificate. It can't be the original one like in Italy, it has to be a...

    Extract from Récit de Marcello • 35 years old • Man • Italian

    Before I understood that I needed a French National Insurance number I lost a great deal of time trying to use my European Health Insurance Card (in Italy, the equivalent of the Carte Vitale was...