Tag Archives: Marseille

Street Art in Paris and Marseille

Everyone knows how much I like street art. There wasn’t really any in the Morocco Medina, so I don’t have any representative Moroccan street art. Boo. The only one I saw depicted a dog barking ferociously at a person, kind of Bart Simpson style.

In Marseille, France we saw a few stencils, and we saw one big long wall mural. There were different components and I liked how it worked together stylistically.

Marseille, France.

Marseille, France.

Marseille, France.

Marseille, France.

Marseille, France

Mural detail, Marseille, France.

Mural detail, Marseille, France.

Mural detail, Marseille, France.

Mural detail, Marseille, France.

Paris, France had the most diverse art. There were some stencils, and a lot of the wheat paste type, some typical graffiti as well. Since I’m such a fan of ‘Exit Through the Gift Shop’ I was excited to see pieces that looked like they were done by Space Invader.

Paris, France.

Paris, France.

Paris, France.

Paris, France.

Paris, France.

Paris, France.

Paris, France.

Paris, France.

Paris, France.

Paris, France.

Paris, France.

Paris, France.

Paris, France. (Invader?)

Paris, France. (Invader?)

The trip was pretty good all in all. I really enjoyed different aspects of each place. They were all so different, but somehow managed to come together on this trip. I guess now all that’s left is planning the next trip…I’m thinking I need to add the Asian continent to my list, and am taking suggestions…

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What’s the D’If?

We’ve had a beautiful time in Marseille. Blue skies, 85 degrees (but not humid), nice ocean breezes. After a bit of wandering (and arguing) we found the tourist office. Randy likes to ask people where to go, and I like to figure things out myself…so that can lead to a little head-butting (basically I think he’s a butt head, and he thinks I am one). It also leads to success, because usually Randy asks someone who tells us where to go much faster than I can figure it out. Thanks to a local woman who spoke English very well, and brought us to the tourist office herself (it was near the metro, apparently), we got some maps and information.

Our first activity? Visit the Island of If. On this island lies the Chateau d’If, which is actually an old fortress. It’s what the Count of Monte Cristo is based on, and hundreds of prisoners (especially protestants) have been held here over the last few centuries. Now it’s a great tourist spot.

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Ferry from Vieux Port area to Islands of If and Frioul.

Chateu d’If from the ferry boat.

Chateu d’If, from the front. I love castles. Fortresses count as castles.

It was pretty cool walking around the fortress. There were very few restricted areas, so you basically go into every room. Since there are no furnishings (it was a prison…they didn’t have fancy things anyway) you just imagine what may have been there. There is a dungeon and numerous rooms, each with fireplaces. A few of the rooms (the Count of Monte Cristo’s (a fictional character from Alexandre Dumas’ book) room, and the room attributed to Jean Baptiste Kléber, who was assassinated in Cario in 1800, but lay in the fortress from 1801-1818.

Graffiti from the early 1800s. That’s right, it’s carved into the wall.

They were kind of obsessed with the Asian rhino.

One of the prison cells with the most intact fireplace.

Next we walked up to the Notre Dame de la Garde, A gorgeous church that overlooks all of Marseille.

Notre Dame de la Garde, all the way up there...yes we've walked that far (and more) thus far!

Notre Dame de la Garde, all the way up there…yes we’ve walked that far (and more) thus far!

It’s not such a bad walk from the old part of town, and I think there are buses and trams. Our problem was our knack for getting lost, even with a map. We eventually made it to the church, and just in time for 6 o’clock sermon. That would have been great if I practiced religion, but as a tourist it was not so great because we couldn’t really walk around the church as we didn’t want to disrupt anything. Still, a pretty cool church, and one of the best views I’ve seen in a while. It was great to see Marseille spread out below us.

Notre Dame de la Garde, from the soccer pitch that’s right below it. A blessed field if ever there was one.

Notre Dame de la Garde, and the flag of Europe.

View of the altar within the Notre Dame de la Garde.

View of the islands of If and Frioul from Notre Dame de la Garde. If is the small one, second to the left (I think).

On our way home we ended up buying some amazing handmade raviolis for dinner. Accompanied with a beer, some salad, and the ubiquitous bread and cheese it was an amazing dinner. It’s very nice having an apartment for this leg of the journey.

Today we did a lot of walking (again). I tend to go for lower cost tourist attractions and free transportation. That means exploring cities by foot, and visiting lots of churches. I find that way you get to see a lot that you may otherwise have missed, and end up off the beaten path, plus churches tend to showcase some of the best architecture of their times. And they’re huge, generally cooler temperatures, and smell good.

So, not surprisingly, we ended up at la Major Cathédrale de Marseille, which I’d seen from the ferry yesterday and really wanted to check out. After remembering that it was Sunday (one of the hazards of vacation is forgetting what day it is) because everything was closed we managed to secure some delicious doner kebab sandwiches. So good! from there we walked (or meandered around until we managed to find it) for a few hours. It was totally worth it. The cathedral is in a part of Marseille that is undergoing construction, and despite being Sunday, this huge, beautiful cathedral was practically empty. Not sure if that had to do with time of day, we were there around 5 o’clock or the nearby construction.

la Major Cathedrale de Marseille, from the side.

Oh, and here it is from the front.

This doesn’t really do it justice, but there were simple yet elegant mosaics along the floor, and it was so spacious, as it was obviously designed to be.

View of the benches and windows. Crazy how empty it was.

Ceiling shot. If that’s not arching, then I don’t know what is…(that’s probably not what it’s called.)

Small carving detail. Everything was simple yet elegant.

After this epic walk we headed for home, which was roughly across the water from where we were. So, we had to walk alllll the way around it, which took quite a while. When we reached the halfway point we stopped for some beers as a reward/motivation to continue. Ahhh, refreshment.

Now we’re just relaxing before getting some dinner. Tomorrow we head off to AFRICA (Marrakech, Morocco) in the afternoon. Can’t wait to see how that goes!

Bienvenue à France!

So, I’m in France! Randy and I arrived Thursday to Paris, after a lovely overnight flight from JFK. The flight was nice because it was a) direct and b) they served food and wine for free! I haven’t been on a flight that feeds you for some time.

We navigated the hectic airport, made it through customs in record time (I forgot to ask for a stamp…I’ll have to remember when I come back from Morocco), and got our bags. Getting into the city from the airport was nice and easy on the RER, and Jeremy met us at his subway stop. What service!

Since we were out of it due to the time difference we just walked around his neighborhood. It’s in the 2nd arrondissement, and is a beautiful place to walk around. His apartment, that he so graciously is sharing with us while in Paris, is amazing, with a huge balcony. Perfect for drinking 5 bottles of wine on…

Jeremy’s balcony.

Jeremy’s staircase. He lives on the 5th floor. No elevator. You really feel the burn after the 2nd wine run.

Walking around Paris, somewhere near the Gare du Nord.

We left Paris yesterday morning, in the rain, and took the train to Marseille. Luckily the rain stayed in Paris. Jeremy’s friend is putting us up in a gorgeous apartment overlooking the ocean. Day two and already one of the best vacations yet!

Marseille balcony. Yes, that’s the ocean in the background.

We took it easy today, just exploring the city a bit. We don’t have a map since I left all my Lonely Planet stuff at home. We were looking for a tourism office, but missed it by about a block. Gives us something to do today. We had a simple dinner on our balcony, enjoying French wine and cheese.

Dessert: Caramel and pecan sundae flavor ice cream et vin. I could get used to this.

Today we’ve got an actual plan. I’m hoping to make it to Notre Dame and to Château d’If. If we don’t end up there, we might just have to laze around on the beach all day. Poor us…

Sunset view from the balcony in Marseille.