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Published: November 18th 2009
Ah Marseille. A city where motorbikes think footpaths are roads and dogs think they're toilets. (You seriously wouln't believe the amount of dog poo I've seen traipsed along the streets here.) It's a pretty city from on high looking across it, but walking around it isn't the most pleasant of experiences. And can you believe as I was walking through a park a totally normal looking guy turned around and decided a particular bush looked like a great urinal. He was in full view of everyone in the park and on the road! Weird.
One of the first things I noticed were posters everywhere about an exhibition at the Musee Cantini showing David, Klimt, Toulouse-Lautrec and Degas among others. What caught my attention was the picture of 'Ellen Terry in the role of Lady Macbeth' by James Singer Sargent. So off I went and I was certainly not disapointed! Whilst the exhibition itself was fairly small the quality was outstanding. It was also really nice to see some non religious art. I especially loved the paintings based on various Shakespeare plays done in the romantic style. They also had 'Orchestra at the Opera' by Degas. The last time I'd seen
that one was in 1996 at an impressionist exhibition in Melbourne. Felt like seeing an old friend. 😊
After my little culture art hit I went for a wander down to the famous Vieux Port and up to Fort D'entrecasteaux for a lovely view across the port. I realised later that this was a bit of a waste of time though because you get a MUCH nicer view from the Notre Dame de la Garde. What I also didn't know was that to get to the Notre Dame you had to hike up a bloody mountain! I felt like a true pilgrim by the time I got there having endured such hardship. Hehe. Bring your good camera because the views from the top of said mountain (ok, it's probably more of a hill) are spectacular. You've got the water on one side and mountains on the other. Like I said, Marseille is best viewed from on high. You can enter the Notre Dame for free and even though inside it's not as big as I expected it's very beautiful. The ceiling is covered in mosaics and I thinlk it's the first time I've seen gold leaf used even vaguely
tastefully in a church. It was quite breath taking actually.
Next I caught a train to Palais de Longchamp. Stepping onto the train was like a slap in the face! So much ORANGE (the only colour I really don't like). Each station seems to have its own bold colour scheme as well. *shudder* The Palais de Longchamp was worth it though. A wonderful crescent shaped building it houses the Natural History Museum (which I didn't bother going to because everything was written in french only.) The Palais has a large fountain which spills over like a waterfall. Very nice.
My second day in Marseille was a public holiday (their version of Remembrance Day I found out) so of course everything was closed. I wandered through some of the old streets and headed up to a Chateux just past the fort I mentioned earlier. It was a beautiful building and had a perfect view over Vieux Port. So I spent the afternoon sitting on a bench, listening to an audio book and admiring the view. A nice cruisy day! (Fortunatley it was nice and sunny too).
I headed off to Aix-en-Provence the following day but I'll do that
one in another blog. On my last day in Marseille i was finally able to get to the Chateaux d'If which is on an island. Because the water had been too choppy there'd been no boats for days. The Chateaux is actually a small fort which was once used as a prison. It's the setting of the fictional book The Count of Monte Cristo. According to legend it may have actually housed the true man in the iron mask but nobody knows for sure. The fort wasn't as atmospheric as I'd hoped and there really wasn't much to see. I've never read the book so I couldn't connect it to anything. Probably not really worth going to if you haven't read it.
So that's Marseille. Not worth a long stay but nice enough for a quick visit. Just watch where you put your feet.
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