Saturday, March 15, 2008

Marseille – Seafood Capital of Provence

I visited Marseille – the oldest town in France, in the end of February. It left me a deep impression – it’s a beautiful seaside town! Even when it’s a big city (820 000 inhabitants), it’s not crowded at all, you always feel the space there.
The guide of Marseille says: “Marseille seems somehow larger than life, its colours even brighter, the sun-soaked terraces of its cafés even sexier”.

The old part of it – called “The Basket” is 2600 years old. In French, the old part is called Le Panier. It was found by the Phoceans 600 BC; and the Old Port (called The Vieux-Port) played an important role – “The Basket” is on the north shore of the Old Port.
I had a very nice overview of the town from the Conference Venue (where I spent the first two days) - it was a Palace (called Palace to Pharo) which was built as an imperial residence for Napoleon III in the 19th century. It was situated on a hill on the shores of Vieux-Port, and I could see “The Basket”, the yachts in the port, even my hotel.
I explored the Old Part of town in February 27. It was a beautiful sunny day, with the degrees about 20 Celsius. I was so happy, and my mood was just great! In „The Basket” the main attractions are the Cathedral, some old hotels (lovely ones), many narrow streets, and Charity House (opened in 17th century for poor people, who lived and worked there) with a lovely chapel in the centre.
Vieux Port - the Old Port of Marseille
Photo: I walking around the old part - to one side (where my hotel was) to another (where the old part of the town is situated). It's 7 a.m in the morning.
Photo: The Old Port with old town in the right shore. Photo: The Vieux Port at night.
Photo: Besides yachts, you can see a church called Notre-Dame Church in the top of Le Garde hill. The church was consecrated on June 5, 1864.
Photo: Again the port... Photo: A lot of beautiful yachts stand there.
Photo: In each morning, you can wonder around in the fish market opened in the port.
Photo: And more yachts which are chosen Marseille Port as their winter home
Photo: some people are ready to go to sail...

"The Basket" - Old Town Photo: I in front of the Hôtel-Dieu, a former hospital in the Panier, currently being transformed into an InterContinental hotel
Photo: The construction of the New Cathedral of Marseille was initiated by Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte and was finished in 1852. It's 146 metres long, and the main cupola is 70 metres high.
Photo: The Hotel de Ville (the Town Hall), a baroque building from the 17th century.
Photo: Some colourful houses in the old town of Marseille.
Palais du Pharo - the Venue of the Conference
Photo: The Pharo Palace lies on a rocky plateau, built by Prince-President Louis-Napoleon as an imperial residence. The Emperios actually never used it.

Photo: Park around the Palace.
Photo: Pharo Palace taken from the cruise-boat.

La Corniche and Malmousque Village
One day, I took a picturesque waterfront road between the Old Port and the Bay of Marseille - called La Corniche which runs from Catalans cove to the Prado beaches and it was very, very beautiful!
I also visited a small village called Malmousque, which is a fishermen’ village (or used to be) with small houses, but nowadays a very a prestige living place for rich people who build more and more big villas there. In Malmousque, I was able to go down to the port and sea, too (in most places, you can just walk, but cannot have an access to sea; as the cliffs are closed (probably for safety reasons)) – it was so lovely, a narrow narrow path on the side of cliffs geting you to the sea, and it’s very easy to slip and fall down to the sea from there! As it’s not a tourist season right now, then I was all alone there! Malmousque has really nice small ports for the boats of fishermen.
Photo: The Mediterranean Sea is indeed very clean and transparent...
Photo: The view from La Corniche pathway
Photo: The days were so warm, that some people played beach volleyball already, and even took sun...
Photo: More views during my walk

Photo: A Monument in La Corniche by a sculptor Antonio Sartorio. It represents the "Gateway to the East", as Marseilles has often been named due to its geographical location, its maritime traits and the fact that it opens onto the East
Photo: The small port in the fishing village Malmousque.
Photo: A little bit larger port in Malmousque.
Photo: Nice houses in Malmousque.
Photo: I took a narrow bath to get to the sea.
Photo: I in Malmousque.
The Calanques
In the sunny afternoon, I went on a boat-cruise to the Calanques – which are long cliffs on the coast of Mediterranean Sea with many hiking tracks and beautiful views. I was that I couldn’t go hiking there (the public transport was on strike, and the buses didn’t go there, and it was too far away to talk a walk there). As it was such a beautiful day, the boat was full of tourists – from France, Russia, Belgium, Germany, Japan... It was a lovely tour, we saw many nice cliffs and saw people hiking (not many though) there, and I was so envious, we saw lovely small private beaches between the cliffs, and some people kayaking etc... If I ever happen to go to Provence region in France, I certainly want to go on a hike there in the Calanques. The hiking tracks are closed in summer-time – in order to protect the wild life there (birds are laying eggs during that time) and due to the risk of forestfires.
Photo: The small cruise-boat to go to the Calanques.

Photo: Some views of Calanques.
In my opinions, Marseille is a wonderful city with its own special vitality, antiquity, and marine fragrance. Definitely worth to visit!

1 comment:

Belle said...

I adored to see your work, I was not minding anything of visiting all these places where you travelled.
I am now beginning to publish my blogue that is dedicated exclusively to the city of Marseille.
You mind what uses some of your photos, indentificadas like your works clearly!?
Kisses, Belle.