Marseilles, France

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We spent one day in France exploring the port city of Marseilles. We got there early when the shops were just starting to open.  We walked along the water and watched a fresh flower market pop up all around us as people sat up tents and stands filled with bright, fragrant blooms. People in America don’t really buy fresh flowers unless it’s a special occasion like an anniversary or birthday and even then they are given as a gift and not just used for ornamentation. Flowers in America are expensive so buying a bouquet that will only last a few days doesn’t seem practical. But I noticed throughout Europe that people buy bundles of fresh flowers in the market for a good price and take them home with their regular groceries. I love that. This fall I’m hoping to plant lots of flower bulbs in our yard and garden that way we’ll have lots of blooms to bring inside next spring.

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We decided to take a ferry to the Château d’If. Trying to buy tickets took some work since we don’t speak French but we found that people are very kind and helpful when you ask questions and don’t understand how everything works. The woman working the ticket office for the ferry helped us figure out what tickets to buy and what ferry to take.

We waited in line for a long time before the ferry was ready to go…our first lesson in patience when it came to public transit. Everybody in America has a car, or more likely, two cars. Here we get around by getting behind the wheel and going where we want to go; that is not how life works in Europe.

Because Europe has such extensive public transit the best way to get around is by bus, train, or boat. But when lots of people need to go to lots of different places all using the same system, you don’t get to just climb behind the wheel and go when and wherever you want to–so you learn to wait :]

We stood in line listening to the musical sound of French float all around us and breathed in the smell of salt water and tobacco. I think I might be addicted to nicotine after breathing it in so much over seas. America is pretty restrictive about smoking in public so you almost never breathe in smoke unless you are actually smoking. But the people we came across in Europe smoke a lot, everywhere, all the time…and after a while you start to miss the sweet, tangy smell of the smoke whirling around in the air.

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Eventually the boat did come and we made our way across the cold, choppy water to Château d’If –the setting of Alexander Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo.

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Bold red poppies and wild flowers dotted the scrubby landscape of the island. I picked a poppy and dried it between the pages of my journal. After an hour or two of exploring the pretty little white rock island we took the ferry back and started walking the streets and alleys of the old city–Vieux Port.

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It only seems right in France to make sure you eat a nice, warm baguette. So we found a bakery filled with fresh breads and pastries and bought both a baguette and a fruit pastry. We walked the streets munching on our treats and I can’t think of a better way to see the city than on foot with chunks of warm bread in your hand :]

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It seems any time Darren and I go anywhere, Darren has to go out of his way to find the highest point possible and make me climb up to it. So, you see that tiny gold statue on the top of the hill? That is Notre Dame and Darren made me walk up there, because as it turns out, he hates me ;]

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But this is the view from the top so he’s forgiven (as usual).

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The walk back down the hill was delightful because, well, we were going down…and I got to meet a couple little French cats. This cat was curled up asleep on a bench and didn’t want to talk to me after I took his picture. Another cat came over and put a show on for us by rolling around on his back and being very funny ;]

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By the time we got back to Vieux Port it was raining. We huddled under an umbrella and walked through a couple of outdoor markets looking for lavender soap (which I found) before we were on our way. Next we were on to Pisa and Florence, Italy…I can’t wait to show you our first steps in my favorite place come Monday :] Thanks for reading!

16 thoughts on “Marseilles, France

  1. I definitely know what you mean about the smell of smoke. After spending a few months in France, whenever I smell cigarette smoke back here in the States, it always reminds me of France. Enjoy exploring! So glad you got a baguette and pastry! It would have been a shame to have left France never having tasted them. 🙂

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    • I really do miss that sweet, tangy smell of smoke…I guess I’ll just use it as an excuse to go back. The baguette and pastry were wonderful and it wouldn’t have seemed like a proper visit without them :]

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    • Europe completely changed my perspective on flowers and gardening. I’ve spent so much time complaining about not having a good place to garden but in Europe (and I’m sure other places too) people have flowers everywhere…on their balconies, vines growing up the walls, and fresh flowers bought at the market. I learned to be more creative in using the space I have and to be thankful for a yard where I can plant vegetables and flowers.

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  2. French bakeries are the best! I can almost smell it… shame at home bakeries are going away and replaced by big chain grocery store baked goods that are mass produced else where and have no deleicious smell and taste just as bland.

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  3. We just watched the Count of Monte Cristo… how fun that you saw the island. I love being overseas and using public transportation. There really is nothing to compare with that experience and walking and walking and walking. The pastry and bread sound wonderful. Beautiful pictures, can’t wait until Monday! DAF

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    • We watched the Count of Monte Cristo again before we left since we knew we would be going to the Château d’If. We have both always loved that story and it was fun seeing where the author’s inspiration came from. Public transportation is a lot of fun…it feels like you really get immersed in the culture and the way local people live their real lives.

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  4. Love the flowers, the cranky french cat and the clothes hanging out to dry! I could ALMOST smell the French air from your vibrant description. 🙂

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