Tuesday, 28 November 2017

France - Marseille - Day 1 & 2

Hubby Jose, daughter Karina and I took and early flight from Lisbon to Marseille on Saturday, 16th September and were picked up by our daughter's fiancĂ© Thomas who had flown over from Amsterdam where they live. Thomas's parents who live in Marseille had lent him the car.

We landed just after 10am, and because it was still too early to get into the Airbnb that Thomas had rented, our first stop was at a small Bistro in the city centre where we had lunch.

After lunch, we strolled around the Vieux Port (Old port) - There was a humongous yacht anchored there - the "Grace E", a 73mt long mega yacht with a crew of 20 doing maintenance work. And if you have a spare €749,000 you can rent it for a week in Summer!!
But before you decide first check the photos of the interior, on the link above đŸ˜Š

The modern mirror cover wasn't there a few years ago when I visited Marseille, and it seemed to attract a lot of interest.

Vieux Port, Mirror ceiling, The Grace E and me and my husband taking a photo of ourselves on the mirror above

Walking around the port,  to the left was a plain looking white building - the Church of Saint Ferreol Les Augustins, built in the 16th century on the former site of the Knights Templar. 
It was part of an Augustinian convent that hosted the wedding of  the Italian Catherine de Medici with Henry II of France in 1533, both at the age of 14!! 
Nowadays only a few original walls remain, with the church having suffered a few restorations over the years.
The next stop  was the beautiful Hotel de Ville (Town Hall). Built in the 17th century, it was commissioned by Louis XIV as the city's new political status symbol.

The Town Hall, Catholic Church of St Ferreol, M for Marseille and Notre Dame de La Garde on top of the hill

At the entrance of the Old Port is the Fort Saint-Jean, a fortification built in 1660 by Louis XIV. It's now linked via two thin metal bridges to the historical district of Le Panier and to the Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations known as MuCem.

The MuCem is an bold modern building by Algerian born architect Rudy Riccioti, who trained in Marseille and Geneva. With a double facade, the building is wrapped in what appears to be a lacework screen that gives it a North African feel. Depending on the weather and light the building changes colours and inside the sun streaming through the lattice creates beautiful effects of light and shade.
There is a fee to visit the exhibitions, but access is free to the gardens, open-air theatre and restaurants.

Close to the Museum and next to the former commercial port is the Catholic Cathedral Sainte Marie Majeure, also known as La Major.

It was the first cathedral to be constructed in France in two centuries on the site of a former church. It was the brainchild of Napoleon Bonaparte, who wanted to ingratiate himself with the Church and well as with the people of the city of Marseille. 

Built in the Byzantine-Roman style, construction started in 1852 and ended in 1896. The Cathedral is 142mt long, the cupula is 70mt high and it has the capacity to seat 3000 people, being one of the largest cathedrals in France.

Later in the day Thomas went to get the car with our luggage from the parking garage, picked us up and drove us to the apartment.
Located in the bohemian suburb of Cours Julien, in the 6th arrondissement, the area has plenty of restaurants, bars and colourful shops, and although the building was a bit of a disappointment when we reached it, we were thrilled when we came indoors.

In fact most buildings in this area are tagged and look dirty, but there's also a lot of beautiful murals around. The area is also famous for it's night life.

My daughter and husband coming out of the building where we stayed
Beautifully remodeled and tastefully decorated, the 2 bed-roomed ground floor apartment had an inner courtyard that we loved. The kitchen also had all the mod-cons including dishwasher, coffee machine and even a lot groceries left behind by previous renters.
No street parking, so Thomas drove his parents car to their home and returned by metro. 
The apartment was within a 20 min walk to the Old Port, so quite central too. 
After unpacking, we went to the local grocer to buy some essentials and rested a little bit before dinner.

Lounge, Kitchen, corredor next to courtyard into 2nd bedroom, inner courtyard, dining room

2nd bedroom, main bedroom, courtyard seen from 2nd bedroom, bathroom

That evening we walked to Bistro Venetien "Chez Marie", a restaurant in the elongated square at the heart of Cours Julien. This tree shaded area is full of restaurants, bars, tattoo parlours and bookshops, and it's walls are covered by graffiti/murals.
We met up with Thomas's parents and brother for dinner. The restaurant serves Gluten free food (T's Mom is celiac) and dinner was tasty and well served. Their specialty dessert was GF Tiramisu served in mason jars. I had the burger and chips, but no bread.

After dinner we all went back to the apartment for a drink, but the in-laws didn't stay long, as the Mom had to work the next day.
                                                                        * * * * * * * * *             
 DAY 2
After a lazy morning we walked to the Notre Dame Du Mont Metro station (line 2) and caught the train to T's parents for Sunday lunch with the family.
They live in a charming double storey house with a small courtyard. It used to be 2 separate houses and when they bought it they renovated and joined the house.
Of course the famous French macaroons were presented at coffee time.

Lunch setting, macaroons, Sunday lunch in the backyard, the garden and pond 

Thomas's parents live near the Palais (Palace) Longchamp, so when returning home we actually walked back instead of taking the metro, so that I could take photos of things on the way - murals, churches, palaces, etc. The entrance to the gardens was about to close, so I just had time to snap a few pictures.

Located in the 4th arrondissement, the Palais houses the Museum of Fine arts (Musée des beaux-arts) and the Natural History Museum (Museum d'Histoire Naturelle) and the surrounding park is considered one of France's notable gardens.

It was built to celebrate the construction of the Canal de Marseille, which brought water from the Durance River to Marseille. It took 30 years to build due to costs and the building was centered around the elaborate fountain known as water castle.
Longchamp was opened in 1869 and later it contained a zoo, run by the city from 1898 until 1987 when it was closed.

Palais Longchamp - seen from the  Boulevard Longchamp
Further down we walked past another beautiful church - Ă‰glise Saint-Vincent-de-Paul (St Vincent de Paul church) a Roman Catholic church located at Cours Franklin Roosevelt (avenue named after the American President). The church was built on the site of a demolished convent and chapel, and built from 1855 to 1886 in Neo-gothic style. 

Further down the avenue we encountered two cute giraffes, the smaller one serving as swap library, as well as a fountain and other statues.

And towards the end of the afternoon we finally arrived at Cours Julien, at the square where restaurants and bars abound and where we had dinner at Bistro Venetien the night before. 
From here it was just a 5 minute walk home where we just had a snack for dinner and watched a movie on tv.

I was very proud of my husband for still remembering a lot of his school learnt French and managing to converse with the in-laws. I on the other hand tended to have more difficulty communicating (I also learned French for 5 years in school) and somehow German words would pop up here and there in the conversation. 
We lived in Germany during 6 years in the 80's, but because it's another language that I don't use I can hardly hold a decent conversation in German nowadays!
Luckily our daughter is fluent in French and English and her French fiance is fluent in English and French, so we had translators at hand in case we got stuck. T's parents English was quite rudimentary.

More of Marseille to come next week. 


  1. €749,000 for one week?!!! I prefer our good ole cabin ;-)
    The mirror sure is impressive.
    Wow. Married at age 14...
    That courtyard in your home is really beautiful.

    I lost most of my French, too, I reckon. Esp hearing/listening is difficult.
    But I was 19 years old the last time I went to France...

    1. That Airbnb was really pretty and I loved the courtyard.
      I think many centuries ago royals got married very early.
      With languages I think if you don't practice it you lose it.

  2. What a fabulous trip you had Sami and so successful I think due to your meticulous planning ahead.. brilliant! You are so good remembering the details like this. You certainly packed a lot in but the nice thing about it was the family spending so much time together.

    1. Thanks Grace. My daughter basically spent the 4 weeks with us which was wonderful!

  3. Good to see more of Marseilles than we did, essentially just the old port area. French youth really are very keen on tagging and graffiti.

    1. We were in Marseille for 5 days so we managed to see quite a bit, and we had the local guide too (son in law's dad). I noticed a lot of tagging even in beautiful buildings and churches which is sad.

  4. Marselha Ă© uma cidade que hĂĄ muito quero visitar.
    Linda, pelas imagens que aqui deixa.

    1. Apesar de nao ter boa reputacao a nivel de seguranca, nao tivemos problemas (apesar do meu genro que la nasceu nao gostar da cidade)!
      Mas claro como todas as grandes cidades Europeias tem belissimos monumentos.

  5. That's a lot of neat stuff you got to see

    1. Thanks Adam, it was an interesting visit for sure.

  6. Uma grande cidade com um porto de recreio lindĂ­ssimo e bem integrado na cidade.
    Uma boa semana.

    Dedais de Francisco e Idalisa
    O prazer dos livros

    1. Obrigada Francisco, Ă© realmente uma bela cidade com um porto que Ă© usado pelos residentes e visitantes.

  7. Such a fabulous trip you had ...
    Such fabulous photographs you've shared ...
    Thank you.

    All the best Jan

  8. Que maravilha de cidade! Adoraria conhecer um dia.
    HĂĄ uma sĂ©rie com o GĂ©rard Depardieu, que leva o nome da cidade e onde se vĂȘem imagens lindĂ­ssimas da mesma.

    1. Ola Sandra. Conheco a serie, vi alguns episodios no Netflix.
      Fica mais facil para voces irem a Marselha pois estao pertinho.

  9. Dearest Sami,
    Finally catching up on blog reading.
    We had a check up for Pieter and he's improved so much now on his new, expensive meds ($ 700 p/m) and we are so very happy! Grateful for having switched cardiologist too; can't get over the 1st bully who gave Pieter the death penalty... How RUDE!
    But we enjoy our life, at a much calmer pace of course. Garden is now in the hands of professionals, not much to do right now as winter is coming our way. All tropical potting plants reside inside the greenhouse. We had our 1st frost last night.
    What a difference such city visit makes if you have relatives living there or locals that can point you to such a comfy and conveniently located apartment! Wow, that was quite a lovely place.
    Love the Byzantine-Roman style cathedral the most. Yes, there is so much old architecture to admire!
    Oh, my French I've studied 1 year more than English but even though I manage well to read it, it is harder to speak. I've not done so in a long time, used to do training in the MontrĂ©al, QuĂȘbec area and it went very well. Can do it if I have too...
    But you managed all together and that makes things less stressful.
    Thanks for sharing this and I see the Jacaranda blossom to the left here... on your background.

    Pieter has been enjoying my writings about South Africa and I'm happy for him, reliving happy times together was the best distraction possible! Will continue to do so as one never knows...

    1. Wonderful news Marianne, great that you switched cardiologists and now feel more comfortable with this one.
      Languages are tricky, if you don't speak you lose it quickly unfortunately.
      The jacarandas are in bloom at the moment around Perth suburbs, they are lovely.

    2. Yep, with my baptismal names Maria, Anna, Martha I could have been called Marianne! Would have made more sense!
      As for our 2nd opinion, it was the BEST we've done this year. Don't like to think about the other fate...
      Enjoy those jacarandas!


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