Marseille Day 2 – Part 2

So, I survived the final (barely) and was able to watch the Superbowl – which was highly entertaining.  There is just nothing like hearing the announcers call out “Oh la la!” during a touch down and discuss “le running back.”  Seriously hilarious.

Anyway, back to Marseille.

After we left the abbey, we wandered around the waterfront and made our way to another church.

Front of the church.

I have no idea what it was called (and it was closed on the Monday so we couldn’t go in), but it was very pretty.

Side view of the church.

This is also apparently right next to where cruise ships dock – so, if any of you take a cruise that stops in France, there’s a good chance you’ll see this up on the hill.

This is also the church that bikers apparently attend.

After we admired the church, we walked through the streets of the old Marseille area (le Panier), and admired the very cute streets.

The "Street of Little Puddles."

Colton loved the name of this street – Le Rue du Petit Puits (The Street of Little Puddles).  It was very cute.

Next, we visited the Centre de la Vielle Charité Hospice, which (I just learned from wikipedia) used to serve essentially as a prison for poor people.  Beggars were “housed” here and found jobs as domestic servants and such in the 1700s.

Hospice de Vielle Charité

In the 19th century, this was used as an asylum for vagrants and the “dispossessed.”  This better usage was the only one advertised on the plaque at the Centre, just so you know.  Nothing like selective history, right?

We stopped here at a little café and enjoyed some Coca Light.

After leaving here, we headed back to our hotel to get ready for the evening’s activities – a concert with Juan Diego Florez, an opera singer with whom Colton is madly in love.  We got dressed up (couldn’t have Colton being embarassed in front of his true love) and then headed out to dinner…

Our classy dinner.

at the Quick Burger.  That’s right – fast food (Colton’s choice).  Nothing says “We’re off to the opera” like a dinner at Quick!  I’ve been told they have good food, but I can tell you that their chicken nuggets are disgusting.  Seriously gross.  Now I know.

Then, back to the opera house to hear the amazing Juan Diego Florez.

Colton was downright giddy!

The concert was spectacular.  After the concert, Colton made me stand outside of the theatre at the artist entrance for a very long time, waiting to meet Juan Diego Florez.  Colton desperately wanted an autograph and photo with the man.  So, we waited.  And waited.  And waited.  During our wait, Colton made friends with some of the other Juan Diego Florez fans – older Italian ladies.  Let’s face it – all of the fans for Juan Diego Florez were older Italian ladies.  We kind of stuck out like a sore thumb.

Hanging out with the other JDF fans.

Finally, the doors opened up and we got to go in and meet the star.  We got autographs (I gave mine to Colton) and Colton got a picture with his hero.

JDF and Colton

After we meet Juan, we headed back to our hotel.  I forewent sleep to take advantage of the bath tub (of course) and then we headed out early the next morning to get to class by 10am.

Phew – the Marseille trip is finally finished.  Next up: the tortures of my first foreign law school exam, beautiful weather, a couple of picnics, and some Roman ruins.  I’m keeping busy!

Marseille Day 2! – Part 1

Okay, I should be working on my first final of the quarter (a 72-hour take-home exam about the protection of cultural property), but instead I’m going to update my blog because I’m sure you are all waiting with bated breath for my next entry!

On Monday, Colton and I had another big day in Marseille.  Our first goal was to head to the Notre Dame de la Garde.  I had wanted to hike up to the church, but we got a late start on the day.  So, instead, we purchased some sandwiches and desserts (lemon meringue tart – yum!) and took the bus up the hill.

Once we got to the top, we were greeted with this view:

The view of Marseille from the base of the Notre Dame de la Garde.

The view of the Notre Dame de la Garde wasn’t bad either.

Notre Dame de la Garde.

The gold statue at the top is gigantic!

The gold statue on the top of the Notre Dame de la Garde.

The statue (in case it’s not clear in the picture) is of Mary with Jesus as a young child.  The wrist of the child Jesus measures 1.1 meters!  That’s really big.  And it weighs a lot, too – the statue, made out of copper gilded with gold leaf, weighs almost 10,000 kg.

After checking out the views and the outside of the Notre Dame, we decided to enjoy our picnic.

Proof of the picnic.

After eating up sandwiches and delicious lemon meringue tarts, we headed into the Notre Dame de la Garde to check out the interior.

Inside the Notre Dame de la Garde.

It was incredibly ornate and had some beautiful stained glass windows.

Stained glass window inside the Notre Dame de la Garde.

After admiring the interior for a bit, we headed back outside to check out some more of the views.

The view from the Notre Dame de la Garde.

More of the view.

The small island in the middle in the above picture contains the prison where The Count of Monte Cristo was set.

After we’d gotten enough of the views, we decided to hike back down to the city center.  I like wandering around streets and seeing different shops and houses, so I really enjoyed the walk.

Streets of Marseille.

Isaac – how’s that for city planning?

We made sure to do some soap shopping since Marseille is known for its soap.  We visited a couple of soap stores, including this one, which was my favorite.  I bought some grape-seed soap, which is the most amazing smelling soap I’ve ever smelled (smelt?).

We also saw some wonderful displays in the stores we passed.

A shoe store with a sale sign and an awesome display. What could be better?

Display of Macarons - my new favorite cookies!

We passed a cool looking statue along the way.

A statue of Puget and a waterfall in Marseille.

Then, while stopped on the street looking at the map trying to figure out where exactly in Marseille we were, a very nice French man stopped and asked where we were headed.  He suggested that we visit an abbey, which was built back in the 5th century!  (Makes all the buildings in Seattle seem like babies!)  So, we headed in that direction.

The Abbaye St. Victor in Marseille.

The inside of the abbey was very cool.

Inside the abbey.

After we left the abbey, we wandered along the waterfront in an attempt to get to Le Panier, the old district of Marseille.

The abbey and the waterfront.

But, I’ll have to cover the rest of the day at another time.  I should really get back to the final (and this blog post is long enough as it is!).  Stay tuned!

Day 1 of Marseille!

On Friday, I survived my five hours of class!  Phew.  That was tough.

Saturday, I went to the Lyon public library with Colton, enjoyed a fancy lunch of pasta and turkey cordon bleu at his place, and then met up with Cynthia to play some Scrabble.  (Guess who won.)  After that game, Cynthia and I enjoyed some very filling (and quite cheap) crepes at a nearby restaurant.  Delicious!

This morning (Sunday), Colton and I boarded a 9am train headed to Marseille, a port city in the south of France.  After just under 2 hours, we arrived!

The train station in Marseille.

We then caught the metro (which was conveniently attached the train station) and headed to our hotel.

The lobby of our hotel - very chic!

After dropping our bags off, we went out to explore the city, find some lunch and eventually make our way to the opera house.

A church on a street in Marseille.

Unfortunately for us, almost everything was closed today (France pretty much shuts down on Sundays).  So, we settled for just walking and taking pictures of pretty buildings.

Streets of Marseille.

The buildings in Marseille are gorgeous, though a bit grungy.  Marseille is the second largest city in France and the largest port city, but it has a fairly bad reputation.  I think it’s pretty charming, though.

The view along the waterfront.

Close up for the Basilique Notre Dame de la Garde. We're going to try to hike up to this tomorrow before our evening concert.

And it has a beautiful waterfront, which makes me feel at home.

The Waterfront.

After we walked along the waterfront (and admired the fresh fish for sale from local vendors), we headed off in search of some lunch.  There is a traditional Marseille dish called Bouillabaisse, which is a soup made up of five fish, tomatoes, white whine, fennel, saffron, and served with croutons and garlic mayonnaise.  I obviously didn’t want any garlic mayonnaise, but I wanted to try the dish.  So, we found a very cute restaurant (with a super nice waiter – kind of a rarity around here!) and ordered some Bouillabaisse.

Traditional Marseille Bouillabaisse.

As you might expect, it was very . . . fishy.  It was alright.  I’m glad I tried it, but it’s not something I’m likely to ever order again.

Then, we were off to the opera!

Colton at the Opera House.

Actually, we were off to TWO operas.  We saw Cavalleria Rusticana and I Pagliacci.  Each was only about an hour and fifteen minutes, so it felt kind of like watching only one opera (thankfully – sorry Colton, I love operas, but two full-length ones in one day might have been a bit too much!).  The first one was alright, but the second one was fantastic.  I’m really glad we went (SO much better than Werther)!

The ornate interior of the opera house.

The interior of the opera house was quite ornate – and, unlike the Lyon opera house, none of it has been modernized (which makes me happy).

The view from our back-row seats.

After the opera, we wandered back to our beautiful hotel since absolutely nothing (aside from restaurants) was open.

This evening, while Colton did some reading for class this week (what a good little student!), I took advantage of the large bath in the hotel room and enjoyed my first bath since arriving in France.  Oh, how I’ve missed having a bathtub!  (No jokes necessary – yes, I have been showering.  :-P)

Tomorrow, we’re going to wander around and try to enjoy as much of Marseille as possible before going to a concert (of an opera singer, of course!) tomorrow evening.  We’ll be headed back to Lyon just in time for classes on Tuesday morning.

Oh!  And, I might be crazy.  I’ve (foolishly?) signed up for the Portland half-marathon in October.  That gives me 9 months to get in shape and actually become a runner.  Yikes!