Another lovely sunny day. We decided to make for the basilica, Notre Dame de la Garde, on foot from our lodgings. The guide book said 45 minutes on foot for the courageous from the Vieux Port, but we were starting from nearer. Firstly past the Prefecture, then the Palais de Justice, and along the noisy Cours Pierre Puget. On the map it looked as if this road had greenery, but that just proved to be an avenue of trees sheltering the traffic. From the end of it there was quiet – but upward and upward. At one, surprisingly speedily reached point, it looked as if we were almost there, but it proved that there were many more steps to go. We walked anti-clockwise round the basilica.
I had mixed feelings about not being able to go up the tower, but Harvey clearly did not, as he was feeling poorly again. He had done very well to make it all that way. We went down again by a different route to the centre, and sat for a short while in the Jardin Pierre Puget. We had hoped to find somewhere really to stretch out and relax, but the park proved to be rocky and steep. Continuing on to the Vieux Port, we eventually selected from among the many restaurants one which pleased, and had a main meal.
After lunch, after another wander looking in vain for somewhere for Harvey to relax, he went back to the mas for a rest. Teresa and I decided to walk around the Vieux Port, which is now only for leisure craft, in order to visit part of the present-day commercial port.
We saw just the part of the harbour serving the ferries for the Mediterranean, though there was a lot more of it further on.
It was Teresa who spotted this sculpture first – I was looking through and past it! As we stopped to examine the sculpture, a local couple – well, the man – entered into conversation with us. He had lived in Sicily – I decided not to reveal that I had been there quite recently or we would never have got away – then lived in North Africa for quite a while, and had retired to where he was born. Well, I think that was it. The wife didn’t say a word, but the man sadly demonstrated some racist views on the large immigrant population of the city. However, he did recommend that we stop at the ‘wonderful’ Les Terrasses and go up two floors to take in the view. Wondering what was so wonderful about Les Terrasses, I asked what was there, and he just said ‘De tout !‘ ‘Everything’ turned out to be a very large shopping centre with all the usual suspects, which didn’t interest us at all. But without his recommendation we would not have gone up to the viewing platform. A coffee on the ground floor, and a wander back through commercial roads, brought us back to the Vieux Port, to the health food store, and in due course to our lodgings. Teresa’s phone told us we had done more than 19,000 steps in the day, if I remember correctly.
So much had we enjoyed our soup the previous evening that we returned to the Japanese restaurant, to sin again (as the French say – récivider). It was just as good the second time.
The next morning our hosts kindly served us a breakfast an hour earlier than they normally start, and it was at this stage that we learned the story of the building. I did indeed take the metro back to the main line station, while the youngsters walked. Both main line trains were on time, and, with a few hours to kill in London before my coach would leave for Somerset, I had the pleasure of meeting up for tea and a pastry with an old (in the sense that we sang together in the 1970s) friend.
Oh dear, Marseille is added to the growing list of places to which I want to return to explore further!