Adventures in Marseille

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The Eurotrip adventure recaps continue!

After a few days in the Loire Valley with dreary weather and cold chateaus, we were ready for some sea and sunshine. Being on the Mediterranean coast of Southern France, Marseille was comparatively sunny and warm. I think that the mild climate and being a port town really reminded me of home, and as we’d been away for more than two months at this point I welcomed the feeling.

Marseille has a bit of a rough reputation, and it isn’t as clean or beautiful as Paris in general, but it does have its charms. The area around the harbour is lively and a nice sunny spot to eat some ice-cream – there was some work going on as Marseille is this year’s European City of Culture, which I believe has recently been completed.

We climbed the steep hill up to Notre Dame de la Garde, a Catholic basilica which overlooks the city and is made of beautifully contrasting white limestone and green stone. From here the view of the city and out over the Mediterranean on a sunny day was spectacular and really lifted my spirits.

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The next day we took a bus out to the Calanques, a series of miniature fjords to the south of Marseille near Cassis. We hiked out to an inlet which has a few houses and cafes, but they seemed to all be closed for the down season. The quiet hike was a stark contrast to the bustling city, although from the highest point you could see Marseille not too far away at all!

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Marseille Foodie Notes:

  • Amorino Gelato – yes it is a chain, but I still felt it was noteable. We didn’t manage to get to Italy, so this was the closest that we got with gelato! I really like the way you can choose two or three flavours (for the same price) and they put it together into a pretty flower shape. For fans of pistachio ice-cream like me who get disappointed with inferior ice-cream that tastes more like almond or cherry – this one will not disappoint. We found other stores in Spain and loved all the flavours we tried.
  • The Boy really wanted to try bouillabaisse, but it requires pre-booking and some research – you do not want to have cheap bouillabaisse.
  • Chez Toinuou, Les Fruits de Mer – as consolation, we went to this local favourite seafood restaurant, known particularly for their oysters. I’m not the biggest fan of seafood in general (see my forced smile in the photo below), but managed to try a bit of everything on our seafood platter, including my whole share of oysters. The Boy was happy to do more than his share and finish off the rest. All the seafood was beautifully fresh (else I would have had trouble sitting near the platter, much less eating any of it), served on a bed of ice and accompanied by vinegar, aioli and bread. And of course wine! If you are a seafood lover then Marseille is a good place to be.

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