... where Edmund Dantes lost his Mercedes

Marseille Travel Blog

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A view of Palais de Phare at night, at the mouth of the Old Port

Coming into Marseille was quite a treat.  One of my first few times on the French trains, I was deeply impressed by the timeliness, the level and the speed of service.  The ride from Angouleme took about seven hours, via Toulouse, where a short stop-over gave me a chance to walk around that city.

Having arrived in Marseille, I almost instantly fell in love.  The city feels so small, so cozy, with so many of its main attractions within a half-hour of walking of each other.  Most of the city feels well preserved, although hectic traffic and a vast array of what seems to be the French idea of dollar-stores permeate the city with an unwelcome doze of dirty modernism.

A fisherman getting his catch out of the net.
Similarly, most of the seaside, Old Port included, seems to suffer from the same disease as any city of this type anywhere in the developed world: condominiums.

Other than that, the city is almost perfect.  The Old Port still has the feel of what it must have been like decades, if not centuries ago, especially early in the morning when the fish market opens and the fishermen just pull up to the side with an assortment of fresh fish.  The fort and the palace at the mouth of the port look exceptionally fitting, well, in that grotesque-yet-appealing way.  The Chapel/Basilic of the Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde towers over the entire city, from a hill that looks like it was built on a 80% incline (and yes, they walk, drive, and park as tightly as ever on the streets leading up to the chapel).

To me, seeing Marseille was in some way a mean of reaching something fantastical.

Old Port
  Living just next to the Old Port, above a busy street bathed in a myriad of scents coming from the nearby fishing boats and the conveniently placed brothels, then seeing the infamous Chateau-d'If - which for a man who growing up read the Count of Monte Cristo at least a dozen times is huge - all of this really evokes the emotions one would hope France to bring out!

All in all, an excellent voyage.  I would happily go there again, sail a bit, climb the cliffs which surround Marseille from all sides, visit the surrounding areas.  There's plenty to do and explore here and if you have the time - please, visit.  Full image gallery from my trip to Marseille is here.

Africancrab says:
INteresting blog :) well written, thanks for sharing
Posted on: Jul 06, 2009
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A view of Palais de Phare at night…
A view of Palais de Phare at nigh…
A fisherman getting his catch out …
A fisherman getting his catch out…
Old Port
Old Port
The ever mesmerizing Chateau dIf
The ever mesmerizing Chateau d'If
View onto Marseille from Notre-Dam…
View onto Marseille from Notre-Da…
photo by: voordax