Our Grand Tour: Marseille

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Whilst I had some prior ideas about what we might see in Rome, Naples and Florence, my knowledge of Cannes had been sketchy and all I knew about Marseille was what I’d heard in the kind of negative news reports which I suppose any large city can attract. Perhaps not surprising then that I was pleasantly surprised by what we found.

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The city has a new, modern port so that the old port is free to house yachts. For the most part not the huge, gleaming status symbols we’d seen the day before in Cannes, but proper yachts with rigging, masts and sails.

Like Liverpool, Marseille has two cathedrals and the view across the port is dominated by the one which bestrides the hill-top opposite…

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Notre-Dame de la Garde.

We decided to visit it and took a tourist road-train up the hill.

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The cathedral was fascinating, well worth a look, and the view across the city was also spectacular.

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As we queued to catch the road-train back down the hill, I was targeted by a pickpocket. Astonishingly, he managed to unzip my money-belt without attracting my attention, but I did think that his behaviour was a bit odd and realised what he was about before he managed to take anything.

For fans of swashbuckling literature, this is the marvellously named Château d’If…

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…where Dumas had his protagonist the Count of Monte Cristo imprisoned.

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I was hugely impressed with what we saw of Marseille and, once again, felt like we’d hardly scratched the surface. We didn’t look inside Marseille’s other Cathedral…

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Or visit any of the many art galleries or museums, with which Marseille seems to be unusually richly supplied.

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Next time?

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Our Grand Tour: Marseille

4 thoughts on “Our Grand Tour: Marseille

  1. I’ve never been, but like you I had my preconceived notions of dark streets full of shady characters and abundant crime. Everything I’ve read since backs up what you saw, a beautiful city that deserves attention. That view across the city from the Cathedral is just brilliant.

    1. beatingthebounds says:

      It seems that our preconceived notions of dark streets and shady characters may not have ben totally wide of the mark (see Conrad’s comment below). However, as you say, Marseille does seem to have an awful lot going for it.

  2. You obviously had more time to look round than I did when I finished my French Gorges walk in July 2007 at Marseille. For me it was a train journey from my finish to M. from where I was catching the flight home – the brief comment from my journal reads:

    “The only other incident of note was the walk of about half a mile from the station in Marseille to the hotel which took me down a very rough street where I was genuinely frightened. I had to come back up here in the morning and seriously thought of getting a taxi.”

    I braved the street next morning in safety.

    It looks like the tour of a lifetime – you join the ranks of Byron and co. who did The Grand Tour back in the nineteenth century.

    By the way, you had a mention on Ruth, Coastal Walker’s blog (Carnforth to Arnside) recently just in case you didn’t see it. As she mentions I met her and “hubby” a couple of weeks back when they were in Arnside and they treated me to a very pleasant meal and non-stop conversation in the Albion. Ruth is always a couple of weeks or so behind real time with her posts.

    1. beatingthebounds says:

      A French Gorges walk sounds fantastic. There’s so much amazing scenery in France.
      I also met Ruth recently, when she came to give a talk to students at the school where I work. I wasn’t aware of her blog before, but have been really enjoying following her progress since. What an undertaking!

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