Marseilles, a port on the Mediterranean coast of France, has been a major commercial port and trading center since ancient Greek and Roman times. It’s second only to Paris for France’s largest city. It has a mild climate and is France’s sunniest major city. There are several museums and a variety of historic buildings in Marseilles.
Carnival Vista docked across the pier from a French cruise ship, which looked to be boarding that day from the people with luggage crossing the pavement toward it. For us it was just a port stop. We had no plans, but from our balcony we could see people walking out of the port on a green line painted along the edge of the road as well as plenty of taxis and a whole slew of busses. Some of the busses were shuttles to take people to town, others waited to take passengers on cruise ship shore excursions. Ship excursion options in Marseilles included bus tours to other villages, some with food, wine, museums, or antiquities like an aqueduct or ancient buildings. Other ship’s tours included the top 10 sites in Marseilles and a coastal drive. The taxi cost 20 euro one way for two, and the shuttle was 17 euro each round trip.
The walking path led to what looked like a bus station where people could catch the city bus. If they continued on from there eventually the path split off from the road the shuttle took and went the opposite way. The shuttle went down to the old town area and dropped people off near a marina. By the marina people could take the little tourist train up to a cathedral called Notre Dame on a hilltop towering above the city. Not the famous Notre Dame, but the main attraction for the area. They could also opt for the hop on hop off bus which went to an old fort and some other places besides the cathedral.
From the shuttle stop passengers could just wander around the marina area. A giant ferris wheel sat near the end of the marina by a bunch of boats that looked to be day trip harbor cruises. We might have taken a ride on the ferris wheel if it hadn’t cost more than we were willing to spend. We probably weren’t the only ones who felt that way because it wasn’t very crowded.
Across the street from the marina little restaurants lined the sidewalk with outdoor cafes spilling out their doors. Little shops tucked between the cafes tried to tempt tourists with wine, olive oil, lavender, and other specialties of the region. There were also pharmacies among the shops, nice for American tourists looking for a better price than they can find at home. Epi-pens for instance cost just $60 for two rather than the $600 charged in the USA.
The day we went to Marseilles was sunny but cold with a brisk wind blowing through. We wandered about town a bit and took the little tourist train up to the cathedral.
It’s pretty sad when there’s a sign posted on a stairway to a church warning tourists to watch out for pickpockets. Apparently they have no respect for anything and have no qualms about breaking one of the 10 commandments at a house of god. I suppose people who care little enough about others to prey on them for a living are not likely to be religious or to care about anyone else’s religion either even if it is common courtesy to be respectful in any place of worship regardless of whether you personally believe in that (or any) religion or not.
The current basilica was built in 1864 on the site of an earlier church from 1214. A fort predated the earlier church, and a portion of it remains. The cathedral sits on top of the area’s highest hill. The church’s lower level is carved into the limestone rock. The upper levels underwent restoration from 2001 to 2008. Work included restoration of mosaics and stonework damaged by candle smoke, pollution, and bullets.
Inside the cathedral had an alcove full of lighted candles near the entry. Artwork in the church includes statues and mosaics. Churches are often an area’s best examples of the architecture and artwork of the time period in which they were built.
Across the street from the marina a walkway passed by the area’s assortment of restaurants and shops. Many of the restaurants had outdoor seating next to the walkway.