Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Beautiful Marseille!

It's been a heck of a busy summer, which of course is my excuse for having not posted about our June trip to the south of France. That and an unfortunate situation in which our camera memory card went missing and a weeks worth of photos from Marseille & Provence were lost. Only a few random shots captured on our iPhones remain. And those that our friends nicely sent to us to help with our loss. Let me tell you, I don't wish that experience on my worst enemy. It was heartbreaking to say the least. But as Dayne said we are lucky to have our amazing memories and so with that, on this cold and rainy Seattle day, I am going to dive into a little recollection of the sunny weekend we spent in Marseille.

As mentioned it was tough to get here but once we did we were charmed. Our room at the Grand Tonic Hotel was perfect! A large, corner room looking right out onto the port was just what we had hoped for.

Setting off to wander the port, the evening was warm and sunny and it was time for a cocktail! We grabbed a table on the sidewalk at Om Cafe which had both gin fizzes and whiskey sours on their cocktail menu. This would not be our only time ordering refreshing and well made gin fizzes from Om.

Next up we spent a wonderful evening at the well known Restaurant Miramar feasting on the local specialty- Bouillabaisse. The huge bowls of seafood were presented to us first followed by the even larger bowls of broth which was incredibly rich and filling. We could barely make a dent in ours (after 1st courses of foie gras and a crab, mango and avocado millefeuille) but watched the rest of the diners sop up every last bit with toasts.

The following day was all about sightseeing! We strolled past the fish vendors, their catches set up on card tables. The local chefs and housewives inspected their goods- most still alive or so fresh they were stiff with rigor mortis. A public bus took us through the city and up to Notre Dame de la Garde. The cathedral sits on the highest point in Marseille offering amazing views in every direction of the city, the port and the beautiful blue sea. After lunch we stumbled upon a wedding and then went tasting pastis at Le Maison du Pastis. Finally just as the day was the hottest we set off on a 2 1/2 hour cruise of the Calanques. These incredible limestone cliffs cut deep back into the land creating little coves of clear blue water which visitors anchor their boats in. The calanques are jagged and steep and many people hike and rock climb them. It was really stunning and unlike anything I've seen before!



There was a big street festival going on that evening and we walked past the stages set up for music and dance on our way to Chez Entienne.  This small, family run grill has no menu and they don't speak English but they are quite well known for their cheese and anchovy pizza. We started with that and some pastis followed by a pavé of beouf for two which came perfectly cooked and accompanied with salad, roasted potatoes and penne in tomato sauce. Our dinner with a bottle of wine, espresso and shared creme caramel came to only 68€! Unfortunately they only take cash, which we were shy of, so a fellow patron explained to Dayne where the nearest "distributor" was. I finished the wine and espresso and hoped they wouldn't put me to work washing dishes :)

It was a perfect little weekend, although rough in the start and too short over all. I'd go back to Marseille in a minute!