Awaken with a lust for life
in the oldest city in France…Marseilles!
Up early, with determination to secure a new, less costly room before lunch.
Hollow echoing hunger guides us to a boulangerie (bakery) for a cheap snack before check-out.
Full of customers, we reach the front of the queue at a popular bakery.
We politely requests, “Neuf croissants, s’il vous plaît.”
A backwards glance, the countergirl responds, “Trois?” (Three?)
“Non, NEUF,” we correct.
With a slight twist at the nose and now full attention, the girl responds in perfect English, “NINE??”
Wide smiles from our end and vigorous nodding.
Flaky, buttery authentic pastries as large as a face; the day is off to a good start!
Also on the lookout for a Monoprix,
a sort of mythological grocery store selling water, wine, fruit and socks if we’re lucky.
Before we return to Alize, we spot one…they do exist!
Enter the Monoprix store through the fragrance department – socks: dead ahead.
We’d worn through most of the other pairs on our journey this far.
Up a narrow escalator to the groceries.
Load up on kiwis, tuna fish, chorizo, bleu cheese, water, chocolate,
and of course French bread and cheap French wine.
Weaving through the crowds, back to the hotel to gather our packs
and take some last gasps at our amazing view of Vieux port from the balcony.
From Alize to Etap
Quick checkout and the search for relocation begins.
Not a completely blind hike, the guide book saves the day once again.
Backwards directions to another soon-to-be new friend, Hotel Etap, a chain of budget hotels.
At first, we’re turned away.
Jude, with his lifesaver Canadian passport, goes back in to negotiate.
He calls us inside shortly.
There is an opening, but a two hour wait is required.
Etap has a private courtyard where we enjoyed
the remaining croissants and peeled some kiwis.
Time flies and soon we are admitted into our next new home.
Food stays cool on the air conditioning,
and the dorm style bed set-up is perfect for our arrangement.
Shortly after we are settled we agree to explore the area.
There are ferry ships in the nearby Vieux Port that take visitors to surrounding islands.
The view from standing around harbor.
Jude explains that one of the islands,
the Il d’If (Island of If)
housed a building that was at one time
Tickets purchased, we narrowly make the last boat out.
We chug through the packed harbor and take in the view that has spanned thousands of years.
The juxtaposition of the contemporary with the Baroque as well as the ancient
with the medieval sends our camera shutter spinning.
Not far ahead out of the harbor, our destination is spotted: Château d’If (Castle of If).
As we near the dock, the smooth walls of the castle turned prison
and the famed craggy cliffs become apparent.
A cell at sea level. A form of torture?
A little further away is a larger island with modern buildings.
Looking back, the city of Marseilles (the second largest in France) is easily made out.
It is strange to think that so close to land, no prisoner ever escaped to freedom…
due to these dramatic cliffs.
Finishing a self-guided tour of the island,
one of the employees approaches and sends us back to the dock
to catch the last boat back to the mainland.
No time to explore within the castle walls, we catch the ferry back.
Cutting through the waves, before returning to the Vieux Port,
the ferry docks at the nearby modern island spotted from the castle.
Awaiting more passengers, we are entertained by a few boys and girls on the shore
showing off acrobatic skills by leaping off a bridge
into the cooling waters of the Mediterranean.
Boating home, the French flag twists in the wind at the stern
with a backward glance at Il d’If.
Docked on terra firma once again,
it’s early still and there’s much more of Marseilles to see.
(Saint Vincent of Paul Church)
which is also the home of the Museum of Fine Arts.
Beautiful natural water fixtures
remarkably compliment the impressive palace sculptures.
Walking back to the Etap.
No ghosts welcome in Marseilles.
Oh no they didn’t!
Oh, yes we did…walk by.
What’s your pleasure?
Royal Cheese or Le Big Mac?
The sun starts to drop in the sky and we return to Etap
for a self-catered dinner of
French bread piled with bleu cheese and Spanish chorizo.
Late into the night we have music, photos, conversation…
…and bottles of 1Euro 85cent French wine!