Tuesday, May 08, 2012

A Full Day in Marseille

We ventured out of the Hotel Oceania Marseille Vieux Port for a walk up La Canebiere to the commercial district and breakfast. We actually enjoy having breakfast out of the places we stay so we can take in the local activity. The Hotel is a little pricey but we thought that in Marseille we would prefer to be a little upmarket as the city has a reputation as being a bit gritty. Today it has a population over 850,000 within its city limits and 1.4m including the outer limits. Walking the streets you see a melting pot of so many different nationalities. At night it can be a little intimidating, especially if you're not shire of the various districts. Last night after dinner we seemed to walk through one of those "gritty" areas I mentioned earlier.

Heading towards the shopping area, we found a cafe for the tradition Cafe Creme, orange juice and croissant. Even bought some local newspapers with the election result details. As wandered back towards the hotel, we stumbled upon a local street market. I read in the tourist brochure that it is held every day of the week - a great place to shop if you have an apartment and cook each day. There's so much seafood, but then it is Marseille.
Sue bought some fresh strawberries and I can tell you, I have never tasted such great strawberries before. I also tried this beignet de pomme de terre - a sort of spiced potato patty. Very tasty.

Me - pretending I could read the local newspapers.
I did catch up on Mark Cavendish's Tour of Italy win.
Then the next day he fell off in the sprint which
allowed Aussie Matty Goss get his first stage win.
The colours of fruit.
And those strawberries - something else!!!!
We were going to take a cruise out to the Colanques however with the crowds, we opted for the le Petit Train that takes you around the old town and up to the Notre Dame. It was actually an interesting trip and we did get to see much more of Marseille that we ever could have on foot.
Although our hotel was no more than 500 metres back from the Petit Train depot, we took three leisurely stops along for two glasses of rose and an espresso.

The Marseille coast seen from the Petit Train.
How about this house for prime real estate?

Dinner that had to be had was saved for our last night in Marseille - yes you guessed! Bouillabaisse. Having had it for the first time, I can say, I'm not a big fan. I think I much prefer a single fish, maybe trout, flounder or salmon where I can taste the individual flavour rather than a mix mash of several.
Having said that, I'm glad that we took the opportunity to have had the dish in an authentic local family restaurant.

The restaurant was recommended to us by the hotel receptionist. I tend to agree with Leon. It was a very intense flavour and continued over 3 courses with 6 types of fish, all of quite different textures. By the time the last fish was served, again with the rich fish soup, and the rouille and croutons, my taste buds had been thoroughly overwhelmed. I was ready for a salad!
No salad on the way we decided to share a dessert of sorbets. All with different herb flavours as Leon describes, while refreshing, they were also very intense in their flavourings.
A strong coffee afterwards was very welcome.
A great experience to have had the authentic and traditional dish in Marseille, but probably not to be repeated.

First course of the Bouillabaisse was the fish soup.
Then came the second course of 5 types of the 6 fish within the Bouillabaisse.
The third course comprised of the remaining type of fish - by this time we were about fished out.
We needed to freshen our palate and what better way than with four types of herbed sorbet,
lavender, oregano, thyme and fennel.
Today we hit the road in a rented car to Cassis with overnight at Frejus and maybe a quick look/see of St Raphael.

We'll leave you with some
Where do you dry your intimates?

This shop had all sorts of sweets and biscuits and was well known with prizes achieved for its  products.
A French twist on the Big Mac.
Riding a bike while having a Biere - a novel idea!
The old harbour with its luxury launches, yachts and pleasure cruisers contrast with working fishing boats.
The interesting side of the Mairie of Marseille.

Although I brought two cameras with me - my little point and shoot and the SLR, I found the ease of the little Olympus so easy to carry and even more intimate for when you don't want to be so obvious.


  1. I think I would feel the same about all those different fish flavours. ... But as they say ..when in France !!
    How wonderful to see your snaps of the old Port of Marseille ... I'm still reading Count of Monte Christo which is set to a large extent here. Very impressed Leon reading the French daily paper.

    1. Dianne we agree!! When in France absolutely but not always to expectations. I always say "not bad, just different". We are now in Frejus. What a beautiful village but more on that tomorrow.

  2. I love fish, but as you say you can get too much of a good thing!

    I'm enjoying reading about your holiday.

    Bonne continuation ...

  3. Enjoying your travel images, Leaping!
    Can't help it, it's the photoger in me ;-)


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