Marseille 2014

Sabrina and I (Glenda) have just came home from Marseille.
Marseille is a Mediterian coastal city, and the European Capital of Culture 2013.
Marseille’s inhabitants are extremely friendly. They always smile, they joke around, they frequently ask  whether you need help. They are very welcoming, you just can’t walk pass people without them saying ‘Bonjour’.  Also when having a fabulous visible tattoo, they will compliment you on it.  Marseille locals are awesome and very huggable, especially the waiter at ‘The Beefhouse’ located in Les Terrasses du Port

Transportation

When planning your trip websites will tell you that the best way to travel from the airport to Marseille is the rather cosy shuttle bus to Marselle Saint Charles (the main station).  A single ticket costs 7,80 euros,  children under the age of 6 travel free.  The drive to the airport takes 25 minutes and busses leave every 15 minutes.
The bus leaves at Hall 1.

A cheaper way to the city is the direct train to Saint Charles.  You buy the tickets for 4,50 euros per trip next to the shuttle bus stop.   (Its well indicated)  Then you walk back the exit of Hall 1,  where you will find a public bus stop where you first take a bus the station.  The bus leaves 10 minutes before the scheduled train. The total duration if the trip is about 15-20 minutes.  We were planning on taking this train, however because of a strike of train personnel, there were no trains. Because of the strike, the line for the shuttle bus was very long, so we decided to take a taxi directly to our hotel.   We paid 65 euros fare for the taxi on a Sunday.

To go back to the airport the above mentioned means of transport are available and well indicated at Saint- Charles station.  Saint Charles’ personnel are also very happy to be of your assistance.

To travel within the city you can take either the metro line (Underground/Subway) A 10 ride ticket costs 13 euros and will take you well around the city.  Finding your way in the metro system is easy, since there are only 2 lines.     When you want to go further out of the city borders, you will have to take a bus.  The metro ticket can be used to pay the bus fare.  The bus will take you to outside the city shopping malls and the famous Calanques.

Food and Drinks 

Food in general is rather cheap, while drinks are rather expensive.  Usually a bottle of tap water will be offered when you order something to eat, restaurants also do not expect you to order anything to drink.  You can also always ask for a bottle of tap water, free of charge.  Fish and seafood are extremely fresh in Marseille, fishers restock restaurants and cafés straight from sea.

It is very difficult to find something to eat on a Monday evening.   Marseille is basically dead on a Monday evening.    Marseille also has many supermarkets that are open until 10 PM.

Our top 3 restaurants are:

1: Le Massena Café:  This a hip restaurants located near to the Castellane metro/bus station.  The food is great, the staff is friendly, free water.  Their specialities are Fish and sea food.  Also the interior is awesome!
We had mussels in a curry sauce with fries for about 12 euros, veal in a garlic -mushroom sauce with mashed potatoes for about 13 euros.  The mussels were big, well steamed and according to Sabrina the curry sauce was awesome.    The veal was perfectly grilled.  The garlic-mushroom sauce was the bast I have ever tasted.  The mashed potatoes was made from real potatoes and not from a powder like many restaurants do.
For desert Sabrina had a luxury tea, consisting of 3 mini deserts (differs day by day) and a tea of choice.   I had a fresh fruit salad, which was a fresh season fruit mix.
This is definitely a restaurant you must visit when travelling to Marseille:  Le Massena Café; 21, place de Castellane  13006 Marseille (closed on Sunday.)

2: La Cantine des Docks: the restaurant is located at 63, Rue Shuman, close to the Joliette metro station.
This restaurant offers freshly made pasta, salads, fish, meats …
The restaurant offers and daily menu, different every day which is interesting for people travelling on a budget.  It looked amazing, but too big for out stomachs.   I had a freshly made pasta carbonara, which was a real carbonara (= you had to mix the egg in yourself), Sabrina had a nice salad, with warm Camembert, or Roquefort or…. (can’t remember, I will ask her and correct myself later on ;))
Any way we tasted each other’s dish and must say we considered them both awesome.🙂  Our tip is to go there with an appetite because you will want to finish your plate.

3. The Beef House: This is an American based burger restaurant in Les Terrasses du Port.  The food was great but meets the expectations you have of a burger restaurant, meaning way better than Mc. Donald’s but not the best food you can find.    The interior is once again very nice and when sitting on the Terrace or at the window side you have a very beautiful view over the sea and sunset. In this restaurant you have to ask for your bottle of tap water, and the service comes over as extremely chaotic.   However, the personal was as fast and friendly as it was chaotic.   Good to know is that the restaurant is open to 1 AM.
We both had burgers, that were very well grilled, with fries and a salad, not a lot to say about that.  For dessert we had panna cotta and a cheesecake.  The panna cotta was fabulous, the cheese cake was a bit dry.
You mainly will go to this restaurant if you like grilles meats, panna cotta and a view.
A lesser point to this restaurant is that there is no toilet in the restaurant, you have to use the facilities of the shopping mall, which are located at the other side of the mall.  Also at evening you have to enter the terrace through a restaurant when you want to take stroll on the deck.

Sight seeing

Of course there’s a lot more to see than we have mentioned below, however we hadn’t got the time to visit it all.  These are the places you can’t miss, according to us, that is.

The Notre Dame de la Garde:  The cathedral at the top of the mountain.   The Cathedral looks amazing. At the top of the tower you find a colossal 10 metres high Maria-statue looking over the harbour.    This cathedral is nautical themed and built to ensure fishermen’s safe return from see.   The cathedral has 5 floors, containing a museum, restaurant, boutiques, a crypt and the cathedral itself.   During restoration damage conflicted to the cathedral during the battle for Marseille during WWII is well-preserved.
You can take the bus to the cathedral, drive a car or a tourist train.  Or, you can climb the mountain, like we did and explore Marseille more deeply by doing so.   Also, the lady at the reception will look at you in awe when you tell her you walked up there.
Note that the museum and restaurant are closed on Mondays, unfortunately we didn’t know this and walked up on a Monday.   The cathedral itself is worth the climb, so feel free to skip the museum.

Cite Radieuse Le Corbusier: This is a building designed by Le Corbusier.  The idea behind the design is city within the city.   Le Corbusier wanted to create living arrangements with every luxury you need inside the building.   So beside apartments the building contains a school, a hotel, a restaurant, shops (not currently),  offices, a tiny swimming pool, sport facilities.  Basically: you name it, and it would be possible to find it.  The colour scheme of the building makes it cute and appealing from a far away.  The building is from 1952 and has decayed a lot since then, it is in high need of restoration and can be put in much better use than as it is now.
Floor 3-4 and 9 are free accessible to the public from 10AM to 6 PM, after signing in at the main desk. This is a stop you can easily plan in after visiting Les Calanques or the velodrome.

Museum of Mediterranean Archaeology : This is a museum whose building alone is worth the visit. It used to be monastery and had a lot of different uses ever since. Feel free to find this out on your owen😉
We went to see the ‘Visages: Picasso, Magritte, Warhol…’-exposition, which was very awesome and temporary.  The museum, however, often holds expositions, and its own collection, check whether interesting expo’s are held.

Jardin du Pharo: This is a nice park to walk around in, and gives you a nice view over the port. Mind the road walking over there, some steps and stones are easy to trip over.

Cathedral de la Major: This a cathedral near the harbour of Marseille.  The style resemblances the Notre Dame de la Garde. We’ve found this one more appealing to us than the Notre Dame de la Garde.
The interior is sublime and all is well restored and preserved. The cathedral immediately gives you a sense of divine peace and tranquility.  A piece of art within the city.
Definitely worth your visit, however closed on Monday.

Mucem: This is the most awe-inspiring building I have ever seen.   We weren’t able to go in the museum, because we only had 3 days and miss read the closing day.    So it’s closed on Tuesdays, however we did enjoy the exterior more than once.  By the way the collection covers most of the history of the area.

Les Calanques:  You cannot visit Marseille without planning a walk in les Calanques. The acces is free and most of the sites are easily accessible by public transportation.  Strap on walking shoes or sandals, do not do this on flip-flops or any loose-fitting shoes. You will have to climb.  Stay on the roads, don’t do this when it’s raining and bring a lot of water en sunscreen.
Also, do not plan these walk without going to the tourist information office in the centre of Marseille, they have maps of the area.  Do not do this without a map, even though the road is clearly marked.   You will never regret your hike! People who do not like hiking, can take a boat tour leaving from Le Vieux Port (Old Port). These tours are quite expensive and you have to remain on board at all time!

 Shopping

Marseille’s main shopping streets aren’t all that due to renovation works, however it does have some great shopping malls.

One is the before mentioned Les Terrasses du Port in the city center.  And a large one, le grand littoral, 50 minutes outside the centre.

 

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