Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Last stop - Marseilles

We were a little daunted by the reputation of Marseilles as a busy metropolis with horrible traffic jams, hordes of tourists and the accompanying pickpockets.  So we left it till the last and visited on a Sunday.  Much to our surprise, it was a vibrant walkable city, full of character with a diverse population mix.

We started at the waterfront where the fishermen were selling fish along the quay together with all the other merchandise you'd typically find at a street market.

We wandered up the steep streets to the historic Le Panier district, the site of the original Greek settlement of Massalia in 600 B. C.  We were a little intrigued by the runoff in the sewer down the middle of the street on a sunny day...

Here you could see some of the sentiments of the Marseillaises posted on the front of a house in the area.

You could see all the way to the waterfront through this arcade half way up the hill.

La Maison Diamantee - obviously named for its walls.

The oldest house in Marseilles, Hotel de Cabre, built in 1535 and showing its age.

At the top of Le Panier, is La Vieille Charite, a former almshouse now the home of two museums and a cultural centre.  The architecture is stunning with arcades on three sides of a pink-stone courtyard.  It must have looked quite different when it was a poorhouse in 17th century France.

The chapel at the centre of the complex.

 The Cathedral "Vieille Major" dwarfed by the Cathedral "Nouvelle Major" behind it - what a contrast in style!

The inside of the "Nouvelle Major" is possibly comparable in size to St. Peter's in Rome.

This was where we had lunch - one of the best Salade Nicoise.  We were, afterall, quite close to Nice...

From the restaurant, we could see the Cathedral Notre Dame de la Garde at the top of the hill on the other side of the bay.  We were intrigued and decided to venture up.

An Arc de Triomphe on the way - looked familiar...

The inside of the ornate Neo-Byzantine Cathedral had all kinds of boats hanging down from the pillars - a little bizarre.

But the panoramic view outside the Cathedral is definitely worth the trip.  This photo shows the Chateau d'If (of Count of Monte Cristo fame) on the smallest island of the Frioul Archipelago a mile off shore.   It reminded me of Alcatraz in San Francisco.

We went back to little Cassis for our last evening in the region, enjoying a peaceful sunset by the sea.

We have come to the end of our remarkable trip to the south of France.  Thanks for coming along on the journey.  My next project - photos of our equally amazing trip to Australia and New Zealand last year.  Please stand by...

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