Thomas's dad Max joined us with extra jackets, as the wind was icy cold and showed us his boat moored in the Old Port. He's owned it for many years and uses it for recreational fishing.
|Max showing his boat to Jose|
|The windy day can be seen in these photos|
|Church of St Laurent (top left)|
From the Old Port we walked just north to the suburb of Panier (Quartier Le Panier) where we met with Thomas's Mom, Isabelle who works in a pathology lab.
Sadly I wasn't really aware of the historical importance of this suburb, so I didn't pay much attention, although I saw a lot of narrow cobbled streets, lots of steps and little lanes and even compared it to some parts of Lisbon. But I think my eyes were mostly drawn to the many murals I found in this area.
|Narrow lanes and stairs leading to houses, art in the Panier|
This area was first settled by the Greeks in 600 B.C. when they founded the city of Massalia.
During World War II, the Jews living in this area were deported to concentration camps.
Due to it's maze of narrow streets, it was considered a hiding place for members of the French Resistance, and in 1943 Le Panier and the Old Port were evacuated and about 1500 buildings were destroyed with bombs.
We got into Max's car that was parked in the Panier and he drove us across town to the highest point of Marseille where the magnificent Church of Lady of the Guard (Basilique Notre Dame de la Garde) is.
|Views of Marseille, the Old Port, the Frioul Islands|
This Catholic basilica is Marseille's best known symbol and most visited site with around a million and a half visitors a year, many coming just for the views.
Built in 1853 and consecrated in 1864, in the Neo-Byzantine style on the foundations of an ancient fort, this 149 mt high limestone building has the best views all around.
The bell tower is topped by a 11,2 mt high, 9 tonnes, statue of Madonna and Child (La Bonne Mère) made of copper and gilded with gold leaf.
|La Bonne Mere|
Because sailors and fishermen would come here to the site of the original church to pray for safe voyages and return to give thanks when they came home safe and sound, it then became the custom for those that had nearly perished at sea to commission paintings of their ships to hang on one of the church's walls or to donate replica models of their ships that hang from the ceiling vaults - they are called the Ex Votos or "from the vows made".
And these are truly works of art too.
|A wall with over 60 paintings offered to Notre Dame de la Garde by sailors|
|Replicas of ships hanging from the vaulted ceilings|
They were looking up at me, when I noticed the driver of a black car parking and going to back door to open it. The car suddenly started to slide and I screamed. They all noticed and the driver realized that he hadn't pulled up the brakes in the car!! That was a disaster averted, as it was on a slope...
|My family below with the city in the background|
From the Church we were driven south to Borely Park (Parc Borely), a 17 hectares municipal park adjoining the Botanic gardens.
Formerly owned by Joseph Borely, a French ship owner and merchant in the 17th century, who built a country house in the middle of the gardens, it was acquired by the city in the 19th century. It has a lake, a horse racing track by the sea, a wooden pavilion and a large expanse of grassed area.
One side is bordered by a river and I spotted some beautiful small apartment blocks located next to the river.
Before going in we bought churros with caramel filling (fried dough pastry traditional sold in Portugal and Spain).
Another interesting animal I came across looked from afar like a Quokka, a marsupial from the island of Rottnest (just across Perth), but it was a Coypu, from the beaver family.
|A coypu (beaver), the lake and other areas of Borely park|
It was time to return home, and Max dropped us near our Airbnb. We still had time to put our feet up for half an hour and then get ready to go out to our last dinner in Marseille at the invitation of Max and Isabelle.
The 4 of us took the tram to the area known as The Corniche (La Corniche), the picturesque 5km seaside road along the Mediterranean coast. Part of the road has been named after President Kennedy. (Corniche = a road cut into the edge of a cliff, especially one running along a coast).
Beautiful views of the sea, the Frioul islands and the Prado beaches, with a couple of restaurants hanging on cliff rocks over the sea.
In the Lieutenant Danjaume Square is a war memorial built in 1927, of a 5mt tall woman with arms raised to the sky, and it's dedicated to those who died in the Army of the East and distant lands. At sunset this was a magical place!
|La Corniche, a ferry leaving the harbour, monument to those fallen in wars|
Just around the corner and down a staircase we reached the picture postcard fishing village of Vallon des Auffes. (Auffes is a type of grass of the area used to make ropes).
It's just 2,5km south-west of the Vieux-Port in the 7th arrondissement, but it feels like a different world. A lot of fishermen have little cabins here used to store their fishing gear and cook the traditional bouillabaisse on Sunday.
|Vallon des Auffes little harbour, Chez Jeannot restaurant (white building at end of harbour)|
Thomas's parents and his younger brother arrive and they go up to the first floor of the Chez Jeannot Pizzeria while I finish taking photos of the sun setting behind the bridge.
The top floor has glass windows overlooking the little harbour, so a fantastic view, the food was ok, apparently those who had pizzas liked them, the restaurant was full, and service left a bit to be desired considering the prices.
My husband asked for butter to put on the bread, and was told they had no butter!
A French restaurant with no butter? Very strange. Eventually another waiter brought some butter.
|Karina, Isabelle and Max, Jose standing, me, Thomas and brother, Steak dish and fish dish|
I can hear a sigh of relief from all of you....at last it's ending! 😉😉