Alex and I spent two amazing jam-packed days in Marseille! It is a beautiful seaside city right on the Mediterranean. The whole city is centered around the vieux port (Old Port) and just expands from there. It was a great weekend in a beautiful place and the amazing weather just made the whole weekend even better!!
Saturday morning, we woke up nice and early and grabbed a quick breakfast at a bakery across the street from our hotel. Our hotel was offering a small continental breakfast of toast, jam, and coffee for 9 euro a person - we were able to get amazing baked good for 3 euro in total! So I would say that the day started with a very good decision.
After eating our breakfast, we immediately started exploring the city. We had heard from other people that Marseille is a bit of a dirty, sketchy place; this is a bit true especially the further away you are from the vieux port and the tourist district. Luckily everything we wanted to see was in the tourist district so we didn't spend a lot of time on the more dodgy streets.
We decided to go to the tourism office and see what there was available in the form of walking tours. The woman at the desk let us know about the numerous museums in the area which sounded very interesting, but the weather was so nice we wanted to stay outside as much as possible. We signed up for a walking tour for that afternoon of the historical area of town.
In the free time we had before our walking tour, we found a little bakery to buy sandwiches, pizza bread and salad for a picnic lunch, and we popped into a super market to get a bottle of wine. Then we began our search to find the perfect picnic spot. We ended up just stumbling upon this little beach that had a great view of the islands off of Marseille. We ate our lunch and dipped our toes in (Well I dipped my toes, and Alex just dove in) the Mediterranean.
After lunch, we met up with the walking tour and started on that. It was two hours long and very informative. I must admit, that I was getting a little antsy towards the end, but overall it was nice to learn about the rich history of the port city.
The walking tour ended and we grabbed a quick little café, mostly just to use their washroom and then headed out to Parc Borely, which is a very beautiful park on the east side of town. The park has fountains and a big manor, and behind the park is a beach. We took a moment to enjoy the rest of our wine on the beach and take in the beautiful views of the mid afternoon sun over the water.
So many great things, but alas the day was not quite over! We had talked about having a nice romantic dinner that night, so we went back to the hotel and got dressed up to go out. We headed out and Alex led the way... passed all the restaurants and into a very much under construction area of town. I had no idea where we were going, so I was delighted when we ended up on the water's edge directly facing the sunset. It was a really beautiful moment that he orchestrated.
Once the sun set, we found a nice restaurant right on the old port and enjoyed a nice seafood dinner right beside the sea. It was a perfect ending to a perfect day.
Just like the day before, we woke up early and grabbed some breakfast at the little bakery across the road from the hotel. We ate on the go because we had a lot of ground to cover on our last day in Marseille.
We headed up to Notre Dame de la Garde (and when I say UP, I mean UP). It's a beautiful basilica a top a large hill overlooking the port. Getting to the basilica requires you to go from sea level to the highest natural point in the city. It was a true pilgrimage early on a Sunday morning. The views from the basilica were beautiful, and worth every step of the climb up.
After enjoying the views, we headed back to the sea and reserved tickets for a Ferry to Frioul Island. Before getting on the ferry, we grabbed some lunch a bakery (it was a bakery heavy weekend) and ate lunch on the same little beach as the day before. Then it was time to catch our ferry.
The ferry took us past Chateau If, a castle on its own island, and to l'archipel Frioul. An "archipel" is a rocky island, so rocky there's hardly any vegetation, just grass, weeds and the occasional skinny tree. We spent a few hours exploring the island and the various ruins from its military days and we also spent some time on the beach there too.
Sadly, after one final dip in the Mediterranean, it was time to head back to the main land to catch our train home. We lined up shortly before 6, to catch the 6 o'clock ferry that would bring us back to the mainland at 6:35, a good hour before our train at 7:40. That would give us enough time to grab our bags from the hotel, get some supper and get to the train station. As luck would have it, everyone wanted to leave the island at the same time to we were not able to get on the 6:05 ferry. We waited for the next ferry that would come at 6:40, and make catching our train a little tight. In the spirit of stressful travelling, we made it to the front of the line and the usher put his arm down to cut off the entrance to the ferry. Luckily, Alex was able to convince the man to let us on the Ferry, and we were able to catch our train on time!
What's a good vacation without a little travel stress, right? Overall a great weekend, with great weather and great company!