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Sunday, May 12, 2013

Marseille, the Fish market, the Orange store and Notre Dame de la Garde

Marseille skyline from Notre Dame de la Garde
Marseille, the Fish market, the Orange store and Notre Dame de la Garde

Marseille, France is the largest port in the Mediterranean and also the second largest city in France.  It has a rich European history with the Greeks and Romans dating back 2600 BC.  Roman history was not kind to Marseille, during the civil war with Julius Caesar, it chose to back Pompey.  The neighboring city of Arles, on the other had provided a dozen ships for Caesar and when he won the conflict, it received preferential treatment.  You can go to Arles and see the Roman architecture whereas Marseille has none.  What Marseille does have is the Mediterranean Sea which has brought with it great prosperity. 

MA in the "M"
We arrived at 7:00am.  For the afternoon we had booked a bus tour of the city so in the morning then we took the shuttle bus into town. We walked around the harbor and I saw some fishing boats tied up to the city wall with tables and umbrellas.  It was the fish market.  We watched as many as eight fishing boats bringing fish in and putting them on these wooden tables that were built to handle about 4 inches of water.  The fish, still alive, were sold right there.  I photographed a couple of fishermen as they tended and repaired their nets. 
War Memorial

Fisherman repairing his nets

Marseille harbor and Notre Dame on the hill
Mary Alice wanted some coffee and right nearby was a McDonalds (free Wi-Fi).  She has this French cell phone she needed to activate and needed the assistance of a tech guy.  In her efficient French she asked one of the patrons where the nearest Orange cell phone store was located.  Orange France is the network for her cell. He gave her directions and we quickly found the store where a nice young French clerk helped get the phone “unlocked”. She promptly called Michel, our friend in Paris, France.
Notre Dame de la Garde

Ceiling in Notre Dame de la Garde

Altar and mosiacs on the dome
We caught the shuttle bus back to the ship, had lunch and sought out our afternoon tour group just outside the gangway.  The first photo op was at a war memorial located on the shore drive from the harbor.  The bus then continued uphill through some upscale neighborhoods and stopped below a huge church known as Notre Dame de la Garde.  There are many churches named "Notre Dame" in France.  It was going to be a steep climb up multiple stairs to the church and MA elected not to try it with her knee.  I made the trek and was glad I did.  It is one of the most beautiful churches I have ever seen.  The Basilica has these model boats, ships, sailing craft hanging from the ceiling.  They are there because of the connection Marseille has with the sea.  The ceiling is done all in mosaic.  There are gold inlays on the walls and frescos.  I’ve included several photos which doesn’t do it justice.

Dome ceiling of Notre Dame de la Garde
We made it back to the ship and got ready for the last formal night.  Mary Alice looked especially beautiful this night in her dark blue gown and sequin shawl.  We departed Marseille and the next stop was Livorno, the Leaning Tower of Pisa and a hilarious fun filled lunch at a winery.  Later! WW

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