Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Days 49 to 51 - Marseille

Sunday dawned sunny, and as the weather on Monday and Tuesday was to be a little uncertain, I decided to take today as an opportunity to sunbathe and to carry out my activities on Monday and Tuesday.
So, I went to church at St. Victor Abbey. A little higher up from the port with a great view of the marina (packed with boats for the Juris Cup)

and Fort Saint Nicolas

After mass, I went straight back to the hotel, changed into the bikini, and up to the roof to sunbathe by the pool... And that was my day!

Monday turned out to be just as beautiful, but I wanted to visit the 3 Frioul islands, If, Ratonneau and Pomègues; If being the island where the Count of Monte Cristo was supposed to have been held... the other two are now joined by a man-made causeway, so while one lands on Ratonneau; both Pomègues and Ratonneau are accessible by foot.

Unfortunately, when I reached the pier from which the regular little ferry service to the islands departed, I discovered that some restorative work was being carried out on If, so it was unavailable for visits for the next 2 months, but I decided to go out to the others anyway. Just going out on the boat gave me a different perspective on the port, on Marseille itself; I wasn't sure what to expect from Marseille... too many books talking about robberies and murders at the port had given me a less than optimistic expectation, but these few days have totally revised my opinion.

Abbaye Saint-Victor behind only a few of the boats in the port!

We also passed If and the Château d'If on the way out

We reached Ratonneau after only 30 minutes... What can I say about my visit? I spent 2 hours just exploring these islands protected for their natural beauty and that's what they were, stunningly beautiful, with wonderful views back to the French mainland... and as I climbed to the most westerly point of Pomègues, of the Atlantic.
The port at Ratonneau... where you can stay overnight


At that moment, all I wanted was to be captain of this boat!

Ratonneau from Pomègues


If and Marseille

The Atlantic... and beyond
It was stunning to be out on theses islands... and if I sailed, I could think of nothing better than to take the boat out onto the Atlantic and then coming back each night to Ratonneau port and staying over the wee bars and restaurants... All you could want!

Tuesday dawned grey, overcast... and while warm, was sticky. In the photos from the previous days you can see the Church of Notre-Dame de la Garde. It stands on the highest point looking down on Marseille and is famous for the gold statue of Mary and the baby Jesus sitting atop the Basilica. I climbed up to visit the church - not the easiest on the humid day, but when I passed the postman pushing up a trolley packed with letters and parcels, I stopped my inner complaining!!
The church is very beautiful, and the statue impressive...


But even more impressive were the views...

Frioul islands

Vieux port and the rest of Marseille

Most poignant was a statue of Mary with Jesus - he is wearing his crown of thorns, but is still alive, so I can only assume it is from before he is crucified, but he looks so excruciatingly vulnerable, emaciated and in such physical pain... I actually felt sick looking at it... And ashamed. I had put him there.

I made the trek back into town and spent the rest of the afternoon just pottering around Marseille.

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