Friday, October 21, 2016

France&Fez Day 4: Marseille's Port Vieux

We awoke to a lovely, cool day in Marseille on Sept. 29.  We rode the bus and metro from J.'s condo to the old port, or Port Vieux, at the heart of Marseille.  We were in for some lovely sights and surprises.

Our first surprise was to find that Marseille had recently celebrated its 2600th anniversary as a city, tracing its foundations back to the Greeks.  Now that's old!  The famous Greek explorer and geographer, Pytheus, was born in Marseille. And then there are the Roman ruins uncovered when a downtown shopping mall was to be expanded.  Once the Roman ruins of the original old port were uncovered, they created a museum there under the shopping mall instead, and what a wonderful collection of local history from the Greeks onward it holds!

The Port Vieux area itself is a lovely mixture of sailing port, working port, old buildings, and plenty of that Cote D'Azure feel.  We went into a building that began housing galley slaves in the 1500's, and had been continuously used since.  And we happily wandered the area, and had lunch al fresco in a little cafe. The coconut and raspberry tarts were amazing!

In the afternoon, we took a ferry out to the Chateau D'If in the harbor.  This impressive fortress had been used in the 1500's to house the Hugenot prisoners who would be used to row the French galleys, and for a variety of prisoners thereafter. It was probably made most famous when the film version of The Count of Monte Cristo was set there.  It is a an amazing spot, with amazing views of the city.

  We ended our day by winding through several of the market areas of Marseille, including the North African market, on our way back to the metro and "home".  And once there, J. treated us to Moroccan meatballs. Another wonderful day!

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