Saturday, May 30, 2015


I have wanted to visit the south of France ever since I saw Cary Grant's character visit his grandmother in Villefranche during An Affair to Remember (back in like 1993 when Sleepless in Seattle came out). The gorgeous blue of the water, the cliffs overlooking the sea, the flowers...  When the low-cost carrier had a direct flight from Gothenburg to Marseille on yet another spring holiday weekend, that was close enough for me. We were able to find a  suite overlooking the Vieux Port, so we spent a lot of time just gazing out at the boats, crew teams, ferris wheel, and Notre-Dame de la Garde up on the hill. 

On the first day we drove around western Provence.  We are used to 50 degrees and rainy in Sweden (still, in mid-May) so it was wonderful to soak up the sunshine and warmth.


Pont d'Avignon

Seeing structures preserved from Roman times never ceases to amaze me since "old" in my country is 16+ centuries after these were built.

Pont du Gard
Arena of Nîmes

We spent some time walking around the streets of Arles.

location for Van Gogh's Café Terrace at Night
Now I understand why the Annie Sloan Chalk Paint yellow is named Arles.

I would love to go back to Provence during lavender season (summer) and see Saint-Rémy, Les Baux, and some of the villages in the Luberon area (let alone eastern Provence around Nice and Monaco).  This is such a gorgeous corner of the world.  Le sigh.

The next day we walked around the port and Le Panier, one of the older parts of Marseille. I love the architecture, especially all the balconies and Mansard roofs.

A little Frenchy cuisine.  We also enjoyed crêpes, steak frites, and salade niçoise during our trip.  (And pizza and hot dogs, but you do what you gotta do when traveling with kids).

On the last day we went up to see Notre-Dame de la Garde up close and take in 360° views of Marseille.

Then we proceeded along the corniche...

That's Château d'If in the back left, a former prison and the setting for The Count of Monte Christo.
...and the route des Crêtes to nearby Cassis. We drove up Cap Cànàille, a steep cliff along the Mediterranean.

Then we went down to the port and met up with my friend Florence, whom I met in Gothenburg before she moved back to Cassis.

Florence had told me about the calanques, a unique geological feature of coves sheltered by steep walls. We were able to see a few of them from the water, and oh, the color!  So beautiful.

Then we headed back to Marseille and flew back to Gothenburg the next morning.  Three days in Marseille!

I studied French in high school so I still know more French than Swedish, and after traveling to Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, and Germany in the past year it was fun to be in a place where I understood signs and menus (and nearby conversations).  If you are an English speaker and have any reservations about traveling in Europe without knowing the language, you may rest assured knowing that we had no difficulty navigating and dining in these places without knowing their language.

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