Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Summer Travels: Day 3


On our third day in Europe, we spent time exploring Marseille! The city and coast was so beautiful, living there would be a dream.

I will begin by explaining where we stayed. My dad's family had a foreign exchange student live with them for around a year and a half when he was in high school. We are considered his American family, and I call him my uncle, which confuses plenty of people. :) His family has come and visited us, and many of us have gone to visit them. This was my first time, of course. We stayed outside Marseille with his sister, brother-in-law, and 15 year-old niece. Their older daughter was in India during our trip.

We started out in the "Vieux Port", or the Old Port. The harbor was lovely! There were fish markets along the docks from fishermen who had been out that morning.

Then, we took le petit train de Marseille, literally, the small train of Marseille, to Notre Dame de la Garde Basilica. The chapel was originally built in 1214, then a new chapel was constructed in 1477. The current basilica was built in 1853. The views were absolutely magnificent!

Right along the coast, there were a few small islands. The smallest, Chateau d'If, became a state prison in the 1600s. It's now a national monument, but what made me most excited to see this island was the fact that it was the setting for Alexandre Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo.

After taking a ton of pictures, we walked down the hill to find lunch. I couldn't get over all the shutters. We don't use shutters like they do... There are no screens on the windows, and they close the shutters to help keep their homes cool.

We had our first true French restaurant experience for lunch that day, although I think the food was actually Italian. The menu had entrees in French, with English words underneath as translation. I somehow ended up ordering thin slices of raw beef... It actually tasted pretty good, and I ate most of it. I honestly wasn't sure that it was raw until that night when I looked it up.  I had crepes for dessert, and Alain insisted on ordering the cafe gourmet for Nick. He didn't want it, but he did eat it!

After lunch, we continued to explore Marseille. We walked around the new museum, and took plenty of pictures. We saw The Major Cathedral from afar, and went inside Saint Victor Abbey, built in the 6th century. Christine and Alain were actually married there! It looks like a medieval castle!

 Old Port and Notre Dame de la Garde
The Major Cathedral behind us

Views of the museum and The Major Cathedral

Saint Victor Abbey

We also visited Four des Navettes, the oldest bakery in Marseille, opened in 1781. They sell this special bread/cookie/cake type treat. I honestly don't have an English interpretation for it... but they use orange blossoms in them, and they have such a strong, unique taste, I've never tasted anything like it. You can see pictures on their website.

Then, we drove back to le maison and had dinner. It was our first time eating ratatouille, and wow, was it good! It was also our first experience with le fromage, or cheese, course, which quickly became Nick's favorite. One thing we noticed was that they eat dinner after 9 there! We ate on their back porch every night with views of the sunset over the mountains. It was so lovely! Then we slept really really well.

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