Thursday, March 4, 2010

Bonjour de Marseille!

Marseille, France --- Well, we made it! We had two fairly uneventful flights (Pittsburgh-JFK, JFK-Paris), found a train to Marseille, activated our Eurail Pass, transferred twice and arrived in Marseille Wednesday, March 3 at around 1:00 PM. It was just starting to rain. We found our hotel and tried to settle in, but they are either doing renovations or actually building the other hotel rooms, because there have been five or six men plastering, hammering, painting, etc. on our floor since we got here. Our room was finished for the most part, but we were interrupted a couple of times so they could maneuver furniture and hang a mirror. It was not ideal, especially when we were jet-lagged and groggy. Needless to say, there are not many other guests here, although I saw one check in as I was writing. Our room is fine, it's clean and has a nice window. It also has a spotty internet connection, but the lobby has been ok for WiFi.

I can't seem to make up my mind about Marseille. Both nights here we have gone out on the late side (8:00 or 9:00) for dinner, only to find the city pretty empty. Last night we took the metro close to the city center only to find the streets deserted and almost everything, stores, restaurants, bars, closed. We had to walk all the way to the Vieux Port for dinner, but when we got there we had a fantastic fish dinner overlooking the harbor. Tonight when we looked for a less expensive meal, the best we could do was pizza (more like flatbread with tomato sauce and a little cheese) from a Halal stand by the Metro station. Today was very nice, though. We started near the Vieux Port again the city was bustling and much less worn looking by the light of day. We walked all over, took a short ferry ride and ate lunch at a cafe. We even climbed to Notre Dame de la Garde (Ben much faster than I), which towers over the city and offers a spectacular view of the surroundings. We keep wondering if it will be a very different atmosphere in a couple of months, during the high tourist season.

And then, Bam! We saw the Unite d'Habitation. I (Ben if you can't tell) must say, Corbu has lived up to his billing on this one. Often I find that famous buildings don't reach the hype, but this building was clearly well thought out. I can see that Corbu is already in the process of rebelling against his own points in "towards a new architecture." I got to draw the building for about an hour before the sun went down and my hands got numb, but it was good to knock the rust off my drawing skillz.

The people are really nice here in Marseille and have had much patience with us and our (surprisingly good) French. We go to the farm tomorrow in the morning and we might not get internet for a while. Hope to post soon.


  1. ooh la la! This all sounds marvelous. You know - I have some very good friends in the South of France if you are in need of a place to stay anytime. Plus friends in Alsace Lorraine. I can send you the contact info if you want. Eat a petit pain au chocolat (or 5) for me!

  2. And an eclair for me! So glad the trip went well! The hotel sounds strange, but I'm glad you're finding your way around, seeing new sights & using your French skills. I'm sure Ich's dictionary is a big help with that! And you're moving on to your 1st WOOF! It's great to be able to read your posts & I hope you can continue. All's well here, we love you & miss you. Vicki

  3. Steve and I had a similar experience when we went to Dijon, France many years ago. We couldn't decide if we liked it that much or not ... We spent about two days looking for a jar of mustard, and there was none in sight! Oh well ... we decided it was a charming town nevertheless. Enjoy, enjoy!