Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Marseille und das Meer // Marseille and the Sea | France, Pt. 4

March 30-31, 2015

After our blissful lazy morning the day before, it was a rude shock to wake up early and leave our rented flat in Paris to catch our 8:34a train out of Gare d'Lyon to the Mediterranean port city of Marseille, our final French destination. We made it onto our comfy train with five minutes to spare and were on our way through the gorgeous Provence region for some much anticipated sun. 

Once in Marseille we made the terrible error of forgoing public transportation and walked 1.2km with all of our luggage to our new flat, which was a 4th floor walkup with a narrow spiral staircase. Our walk took us through an area not often frequented by tourists, if the surprised looks we received upon hearing our English were any indicator. I quickly realised that Marseille, though beautiful, is more of a destination for French tourists, not international guests, and I spent the remainder of our two days there in a bit of a panic, extremely self conscious about my absolute lack of French and general knowledge of the area.

After dropping our luggage off at our flat - which was very nice, well done Airbnb - we walked down to Vieux-Port de Marseille, the old port. It had been a long time since any of us had been by a large body of water and it was a joy to be near one again. The sun was shining but the breeze was cool, the water was beautiful, and we spent a blissful afternoon by the docks and in the city centre.

Photo credit: Wendy
Photo credit: Cara Beth

The following day we decided to hike up to the Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde, the church located on the highest point in Marseille. It was a two-mile hike up a steep hill filled with stairs, and we reached the top with a sense of great relief. The wind at the top was ferocious - we felt like we would be blown away - and the view was incredible. On one side stood the massive sprawl of Marseille bordered by mountains, and on the other, rolling hills covered in red-roofed houses and the Mediterranean Sea. 

In the afternoon we decided to properly visit the Sea so we walked around the port to the "beach" by Fort Saint-Jean, a gravelly area with benches soaked in the salt water. Seeing the Sea up close produced a sort of giddiness in us, and we couldn't stop saying this is THE Mediterranean Sea! It was a surreal moment in a way that I wouldn't have expected.

Though Marseille was not my favourite city I've been to, I was happy to get some time on the water and to experience the Mediterranean in person with two of my favourite people from exchange. My five days in France ended on a good note, and after Marseille we were off to Italy.

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