Marvellous Marseille

After our enjoyable trip to Cannes, it was Marseille next.

Marseille is the oldest city in France; it’s the second biggest city after Paris in terms of population. It is the capital of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region.

ViewfromNotreDame-1    ViewfromNotreDame-2

Marseille is a very popular trading port destination. It enjoys bright sunshine during most part of the year. It’s been designated as the European Capital of Culture for 2013. Importantly, we observed many people speaking English as well!

Upon reaching the city centre, we went to the tourist information centre. We got a map for ourselves and started to venture into the city. Along with the guidebook we already had, the map proved to be handy. The map deserved some appreciation for its neatly presented information.

The Vieux Port (old port) near the city centre was pretty vibrant. Fresh catches from the sea were sold in the mornings. We went on a boat ride. You could rent a yacht for pleasure. Btw, you could also arrange to have your birthday or wedding celebrated on a cruise. Restaurants were in plenty in this area; we treated ourselves to some veggie food. Of course, not to forget the souvenir shops. Handmade soaps (savon de Marseille), miniature yachts, perfumes, embroidered/lace hand towels, etc seemed quite popular. As usual, yours truly did buy some souvenirs.

A commercial building near La JolietteTo get a glimpse of the commerce and industry side of the city, I went to La Joliette Docks. These docks were a symbol of the thriving maritime trade of the 19th century. The area now houses commercial buildings and complexes, besides a few restaurants and a local market. I was thrilled to see a local market where I ended up buying a few household articles.

We passed by Stade Velodrome, a popular football stadium in Marseille, which had hosted the FIFA World Cup in 1998 and Rugby World Cup in 2007. There was some renovation work going on. Hence, unfortunately, we couldn’t enter the stadium.

Basilica (interior)

Marseille offered some of the best seaside views. A stroll by the vast and clean beaches towards evening was a scintillating experience. The glory of nightfall could be described best in this marvellous Marseille setting!

It was time to visit the Notre-Dame de la Garde. It was an ornamental basilica situated atop the city’s highest hill, La Garde.  Built in the Romano-Byzantine style between 1853 and 1864, the Basilica (made up of the lower church or crypt and upper church) was a wonder in itself. Wow, it also offered us a breathtaking, inviting, panoramic view of the beautiful city! 🙂

Advertisements

Nice la Belle

It seemed to be hip, hep and happening there. The place was buzzing with excitement and was mostly filled with lads and lasses – students and tourists alike!

Mediterranean sea

Possessing one of the best promenades in the world, this place was simply Nice. Well, the place itself is called Nice, aka Nice la Belle in French! It is the second biggest and the wealthiest city in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region of France. It enjoys good Mediterranean weather – no extreme temperatures as such to bother you!

There is always an exodus to Nice, apparently next only to Paris! So, you know what to expect from this French riviera!

Flower market, NiceWe spent a couple of days in Nice on our way to Marseilles. We went around exploring the city mostly on foot and some areas by tram. Nice did have some pretty lanes that hosted a number of touristy shops and eateries in the old town (Vieux Nice). The market selling flowers, fruits, vegetables, spices, soaps, etc in the cours Saleya area was in itself a major attraction thanks to the neat stalls. We had cappuccino and croissant in this area by paying absurd prices!

Herbs of the ProvenceHandmade soaps!

Handmade soaps and herbs – in a variety of flavours – are quite popular in this region. They could serve as souvenirs.

Socca is a popular local dish made out of chickpea (besan) flour and olive oil. We so much wanted to taste it, but we realized we had to be in long queues for this! We were short of time and hungry too, we quickly had a burger each and French fries. They just about managed to satiate our hunger! On another occasion, we tried onion rings and they didn’t disappoint us!

We noticed that Nice was indeed pedestrian friendly. After having experienced severe winter in our present home turf, walking under the mild rays of the sun was an absolute delight. The scenery around was bewitching to boot!

Promenade

The promenade (known as Promenade des Anglais or Promenade of the English) along the Baie des Anges (Bay of the Angels), a bay of the Mediterranean sea, was surely a beauty. Cyclists, pedestrians, joggers and skaters alike adorned the area. Wow – a couple of them skated rhythmically! What an elegant way to keep fit, I thought to myself!

Ah, of course, the sea was a cynosure of all eyes what with its resplendent blue colour in all its shades that could numb you for a while!

We stayed at a nice hotel in Nice. We were invited by one of our friends over dinner at his home. He cooked some delicious vegetarian food for us! Could we have gotten luckier than this?! 🙂