Why?

Because I was daydreaming about this city in the south. Plus I have never been to south of France, furthermore, it is the second largest French city and the capital of the Bouches-du-Rhône department and Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur.

You know Provence, no? The lavanda fields etc. Only I haven’t to the countryside. Just saw few lavanda magnets in the market in Marseille at the Old Port.

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Vieux-Port de Marseille or the Old Port in english, is the major street of Marseille. It has been the natural harbour of the city since antiquity and is now the main popular place in Marseille. Firstly Greeks established their commercial sport in 6th century BE.

In the Middle Ages the land at the far end of the port was used to cultivate hemp for the local manufacture of rope for mariners, which is the origin of the name of the main thoroughfare of Marseille, the Canebière.

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Of course, there is a market which is a pedestrian zone with lots of shops and bars so you can enjoy a nice view to the port fuzz.

1Provence is proud of its thriving market gardening industry. The local markets also overflow with specialities such as peaches and nectarines from La Crau, olives from the Alpilles, aubergines from Barbentane and Brousse cheese from Rove… Many of Provence’s numerous markets have maintained a genuine local identity. And despite its folkloric aspect, the market in Marseille, held every day at the bottom of La Canebière, the city’s main thoroughfare, stands witness to the area’s thriving fishing trade. Sea bass, gurnard, red mullet, denti, bream and even lobsters are sold here right ‘where the boats come in’ by the local fishermen. Prices vary in the twinkling of a tail according to the season and who’s buying…
Every morning until 1 p.m. Marseille Vieux-Port

As it was pretty hot in that moment (July!!), there was a need to sit down and take the refreshment ant try some local food and beverages.

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Between the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries, quays were constructed under Louis XII and Louis XIII and an important shipyard for galleons put in place. Following a revolt against their governor by the citizens of Marseille, Louis XIV ordered the erection of the forts of St Jean and St Nicolas at the entrance to the harbour and established an arsenal and fleet in the Old Port itself.

Those condemned to be galley slaves in the royal war fleet were branded with the letters GAL.

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Fort St Jean
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Fort St Jean – the entrance
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Passage at Fort St Jean
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Fort St Jean

Marseille Cathedral is a Roman Catholic cathedral built in the 12th century in a simple romanesque style and later in 19th century rebuilt due to earthquake damages.

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The Cathedral of Marseille
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The front of the cathedral
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The portal
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and the interior…

 

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Wall frescoes in the cathedral

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then the Roman Catholic Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde (literally: Our Lady of the Guard) which is above the city placed on the hill overlooking the city and the port and protecting the sailors and fishermen.

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On the hill: Basilique de Notre Dame de la Garde

The site of a popular Assumption Day pilgrimage is the most visited site in Marseille. The construction began in 19th century  in the Romanesque style, carved from the rock, and Neo-Byzantine style decorated with mosaics.

Although I have to say it was a disappointment for me because the main altar was closed for visiting. After all these stairs, climbing up the hill while sunburned …

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Climbing upstairs towards the Basilique
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Belfry, bell tower and statue of the Virgin with child

But at least there is a nice view on the Mediterranean sea and the islands of the Frioul archipelago in the Bay of Marseille, accessible by ferry from the Old Port. The prison of Château d’If was one of the settings for The Count of Monte Cristo, the novel by Alexandre Dumas.

The neighbouring islands of Ratonneau and Pomègues are joined by a man-made breakwater. The site of a former garrison and quarantine hospital, these islands are also of interest for their marine wildlife.

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Archipelago in the Bay of Marseille with the island of Monte Cristo

Time for some food!

Bouillabaisse is the most famous seafood dish of Marseille. It is a fish stew containing at least three varieties of very fresh local fish: typically red rascasse, sea robin and European conger plus potatoes and vegetables. The meal is rarely made for fewer than ten people; the more people who share the meal, and the more different fish that are included, the better the bouillabaisse. 🙂

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Bouillabaisse 🙂

The afternoon chill was reserved for a walk through the old city center. Made of typical tall mediterranean houses with small and narrow streets and passages in order to make the shadow and cool breeze during the hot summer time.

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The already mentioned popular La Canebiere:

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And the buildings from the 19th century when the appearance of the civil layer started to build lofts like this:

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19th century buildings – ancien regime
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The stairs at Gare de Marseille-Saint-Charles (train station)

Historically, the economy of Marseille was dominated by its role as a port of the French Empire, linking the North African colonies of Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia with Metropolitan France. As of the end of World War ll, the huge immigration from these countries into Marseille has started changing the demographic landscape of the city. There is the term pieds-noirs pointing the people from former French Algeria. I was surprised by some facts seen in the streets, but that’s France as well. I guess…

 

 

 

 

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