Mixing reality and imagination by Angela Wren

It is a treat to have my friend and fellow author, Angela Wren visit my blog today to discuss Marseille, the setting for the fourth novel in her bestselling series of novels featuring Jacques Foret. Thank you for visiting today, Angela. Tell us all about Marseille, please.

A vast sprawling conurbation, Marseille, is the second city of France.  With a population of just under 900,000, it outstrips Lyon easily.  It also has a fascinating history, is renowned for its independence and can claim to be the oldest city in France.

This city is also one of the most multi-cultural that I have ever come across in France.  As you meander through the streets, for every five people you pass speaking French there are another five following speaking an entirely different tongue and you can eat in any one of a hundred different languages!

The very first settlers here were the Phocaeans (ancient Greeks), arriving around 600BC.  They settled on one side of what is now the Vieux Port, the sound being then little more than a creek.  But it was an essential supply of water and an opportunity for trade – something the ancient Greeks were very good at.  Of course, those first settlers weren’t allowed to keep everything to themselves, and about 60 years later the Persians arrived.  The original settlement expanded as trade and ancient commerce grew, and the reach inland expanded to the sites of modern cities such as Arles, Nice, Avignon and elsewhere.  The Romans finally turned up around 125BC, and after years of war, established Transalpine Gaul.  The port of Marseille (then referred to as Massalia) became an independent republic allied to Rome.  Maybe that’s why it has a reputation for independence and a very distinctive local character, not to mention it’s own very particular local dialect.

It was hard to ignore a city with such a pedigree and, having spent some time there, I decided that it would be location for one of Jacques’ cases and I used the name of the city as the title.

Of course, using a real place as a location means you have to get the details right.  In the scene when Jacques and his associate, Didier Duclos, are meeting a possible witness at the Vieux Port, creating the sound and feel of the bustling city was quite a task.  The bench where they wait is in front of a real bar, but I used a fictitious name for the bar.  The street where Jacques and Didier are sent by the witness is real but I’ve renamed it, so checking a map of the city will be fruitless.  But, if you’re a good enough detective and know the city well, you can probably work out the exact location I chose to keep in my mind’s eye as I was writing the various scenes that take place there.

In another scene, the criminals that Jacques is pursuing are crossing the city in a vehicle.  It was my time spent in Marseille walking the streets in the sunshine that helped me recreate the actual sights and sounds.  With a detailed street map and all my photos, I could actually work out a precise journey for my characters to take. Again, someone who knows the city well could probably work out exactly which streets they drove through!

Thanks very much for inviting me to your blog, Val, and I hope your readers enjoy the post.


A spate of abductions and subsequent deaths in nearby départements have Investigator, Jacques Forêt, perplexed. Returning from extended leave to the news of a local kidnapping, Jacques is on the case immediately. And this time it’s personal.

But the case isn’t Jacques’ only worry. He has become more and more concerned about Beth, but what can he do if she doesn’t let him help her?

The investigation into the murders takes him and his trusted assistant, Didier Duclos, to Marseille. Can Jacques find the kidnappers and release their captive before another body is added to the list of unexplained murders?

It’s a race against time.

Marseille is the fourth instalment in the bestselling Jacques Forêt Mystery series.


Having followed a career in Project and Business Change Management, I now work as an Actor and Director at a local theatre.  I’ve been writing, in a serious way, since 2010.  My work in project management has always involved drafting, so writing, in its various forms, has been a significant feature throughout my adult life.

I particularly enjoy the challenge of plotting and planning different genres of work.  My short stories vary between contemporary romance, memoir, mystery and historical.  I also write comic flash-fiction and have drafted two one-act plays that have been recorded for local radio.  The majority of my stories are set in France where I like to spend as much time as possible each year.

Marseille Jacques Forêt Mystery #04Montbel Jacques Forêt Mystery #03
Merle Jacques Forêt Mystery #02Messandrierre Jacques Forêt Mystery #01Miss Moonshine’s Emporium of Happy Endings An anthology of feel-good stories
Website : www.angelawren.co.uk
Blog : www.jamesetmoi.blogspot.com

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Website : www.angelawren.co.uk

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  1. Angela Wren

    Thanks for hosting me today, Val.


  2. That brings back memories. I only spent a day in Marseille, but the little I saw was fascinating.

    Liked by 1 person

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