Lagos, Portugal to Marseille, France

Bon appetit!

Bonjour! Bon soir! Au revoir!

I don’t know about this healthy Mediterranean diet — see above and answer the following, “Does your stomach say “No, thank you, I will have a V-8 instead?”

Arrived on Saturday, Sept 25th and checked into a little rental apartment which was close to everything.  There was a bookstore down the street that carried English books — not having reading material is an issue and it is very difficult finding English books, couldn’t imagine why??  Oops, there goes that attitude — but really!  Decided someone could make some money just having a little bookstore/coffee shop with American, UK, German books and magazines.

One, two or more cafes and boulangaries(pastry shops) are on most streets.  My old trusty tour friend, Hop On and Hop Off, is here.  I  have my own pair of ear plugs to listen to the audio, know the best seat to protect from wind and the tone of the speaker’s voice getting ready to announce the next stop!  The broad city tour really is a great way to get a general idea of the city, decide on areas to explore further, and learn some background of the city/country for those of us who do not remember much history.  I never thought the world existed until 1910, when Arizona became a part of the Union, but…

Notre Dame Church, an amazing piece of architecture, looks over Marseilles Harbor and the Mediterranean Sea.  There are great small wooden ships made into mobiles

hanging from the ceiling in the church, dedicated to all the sailors from France.  The photo doesn’t do the boats justice.  It was just so remarkable to have this very elaborate and ornate church and, then, in one small area, these few hand-built wooden ships hanging.

Marseilles is a bustling city of 900,000 people with the noise level to go along with it.   A large Muslim community, made up mostly of Algerians, has been part of Marseilles for years.  No strikes or anti-Muslim sentiment, some women still wear the burka, which is also non-issue, as opposed to other parts of France.  The Muslim quarter has a daily outdoor market of every spice and food reflecting their culinary tastes and it is frequented by all.

The huge harbor is center to Marseille with cruise boats, fishermen, tourists,  and “yachties” sailing in an out.   Bouillabaisse(fish stew) started here, I was told.  I walked the 6 mile harbor/coastline to the western part of Marseilles and the Mediterranean is sparkling clean. Major efforts have gone into cleaning up this sea, and it has paid off.

Public transportation comprised of buses, metro, regional train, and bullet trains make traveling easy and inexpensive. I took a 50 minute train ride to Aix-de-Provence for the day and round trip ticket cost $13.00 – senior discounts apply for everything now if you are 60 or above!

Aix-de-Provence is a university, ex-pat, arty and tourist driven community, with the trendy shops in the Vieux Ville(old city) which seems to be the standard now for these towns and cities with old buildings.   The market was just exactly how I imagined Saturday Market in Provence. Lavender sachets, flowers, painters with their canvasses, jewelers, antique dealers, white cotton shirts, blue and white striped cotton sweaters, every kind of fresh vegetable and fruit imaginable, breads in every size and shape complimented by HUGE wheels of cheese, olive oil, on and on….  It is an event.   People bring their bags, some on rollers, to haul everything back to their house.  This was all complimented by a constant fashion show of whom could be the most trendiest or the most “oh-so-impressionist French painter-like”- sort of like a mini “Sex in the City” fashion show without Jessica Parker but everyone else substituting for her — men and women alike.  All balanced out by some tourists wearing whatever, English in baggy pants, Germans looking very determined to get to point B, and me sitting having coffee w/a Bob Dylan t-shirt on!

The 17 and 18 century buildings are used for University classes, museums, flats and shops. There are little plaques, for example, “XIV”, on the buildings showing when they were built, and my first thought was “The US is still a teenager.”    With a population of 150,00, the town is quieter than Marseilles which is very nice on the ears!

Found a French teacher and moved into her daughter’s apartment since she was gone for a few days and I had to leave my rental.  Currently, am in the French teacher’s studio apartment for two weeks.  I will be taking French classes 4 hours a day for 5 days a week for the next two weeks.  Now, whether that knowledge transfers to the brain remains to be seen.  Just a side note: the word “city code” does not apply to these old buildings – gas lines inside, electrical wires EVERYWHERE, shutters that returned with the French after the left India, daily prayers are murmured in hopes one isn’t allergic to mold…

Take good care, you guys…

2 thoughts on “Lagos, Portugal to Marseille, France

  1. I spent a month in Aix-en-Provence in October 2006 and took French lessons for 6 hours a day for 2 weeks. I loved the markets, having a kir at a cafe and just hanging around. Fresh everything and friendly people. The only problem was avoiding the doggy-doo everywhere!


  2. your blogs..I was in Aix and then drove to Sarlat driving all around eating at wonderful small places that had rooms for guests.. we tested the food and then usually stayed the night…..this was ten years ago..I could have stayed forever..France is so full of beauty and wonderful men. love Celia


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