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Trip Report Provence in April, 2014, Part 2

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My first installment covered our stay in L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, now we head to Marseille.

Marseille Part 1
We drove back to Marseille, which took about 1 1/2 hours. As usual driving wasn't a problem until we reached the city. I wish we could have figured out a way to ditch the car while we were in Marseille. The parking was expensive and getting in and out of the city was often harrowing. I told my daughter more than once that if she valued her dad's and my marriage, she would sit in front and navigate. We had the car so we could make day trips from Marseille, where my daughter is living, and there didn't seem to be a way around it. She lives on the peninsula of Malmousque, which is about 15 minutes away from the old port. It was an easy bus ride along the sea to get there and back to and from the apartment we rented near the old port, so we only used the car when we went out of town.

I found the apartment through Homelidays. In the photos I loved the tall ceilings and big windows of the Haussmann architecture, and it did look like that on the inside. The outside and the corridor were a little rougher looking than the inside, with graffiti and crumbling tiles. (I accept that as part of the Marseille experience.) There was an elevator, and that's what helped me choose this 4th floor apartment over another on the 5th with no elevator in the same convenient area of town.

We really feel Marseille is underrated. My daughter especially loves it. (Keep in mind that we're from Indianapolis.) She likes to say that when she walks 4 minutes from home in 3 different directions she's at the Mediterranean Sea! She can walk, ride a bike, or take public transporattion wherever she needs to go. (By the way, she takes gorgeous photos and posts them on Instagram if you want to follow her. She is Natattack3000.)

The city is beautiful and the people have been very nice. It's a big city and big cities can be exhausting; and it's not what you think of when you think of charming, quaint, Provence. But it's beautiful with the sea and the gorgeous southern France light, and the multi-cultural vibe is so interesting. Here's how Julia Child described Marseille when she lived there: “The air was brisk and breezy, and the harbor was redolent of sewage and decaying fish. There were mobs of sailors, soldiers, Arabs, gamins, whores, pickpockets, shopkeepers, tourists and citizens of every shape and size, all moiling and shouting.” (She loved Marseille.)

After meeting up with our other daughter and 1 of the boyfriends (one was working), we checked into our apartment then headed for (what else?) food! We ate crepes at La Crepe au Carré, a rustic-looking creperie on the Place aux Huiles. The square crepes were great, especially my Nutella one for dessert. Then we caught the tram that goes from the old port up to Notre Dame de la Garde, the church at the top of the hill seen from all over Marseille. It is topped with a golden Mother Mary and child, or as the recorded English commentary on the tram said, "Mother and kid". The commentary was a little quirky, but we really enjoyed the ride up the steep hills, and when we got there the views of Marseille were spectacular. I would have liked to have more time to explore the church, but the tram was heading down in 25 minutes. (Maybe it's possible to catch a later tram?)

We relaxed at the apartment with a little pastis, wine, and wifi. At dinnertime we didn't really have a plan, but we walked around and found a menu that looked good. We ate at Bar XO, and we all liked our food but I don't remember it very well. We often get the "menus" with 3 courses (good excuse to get dessert). We sat at a big square table for 6 on a patio protected from that good old Provencal wind. It was fun to all be together.

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