Marseille – Errands, Vieux-Port, and a Random Stroll

Today was another good day, but we had to take a chunk of our sightseeing time to run some errands.  When traveling as long as we have, you are bound to need to revisit some of the more mundane things in life.  Think pay bills, buy supplies, send snail mail – that sort of thing.  Lucky for us, Marseille is a big city, so we knew it wouldn’t too difficult to do these things – even if we’d have to do it in broken French.  I won’t bore you with the details of us trying to find a place to call American Express to pay our bill.  I’ll stick with the better parts of the day 🙂

As you likely know by now, one of our favorite ways to sightsee is just to wander around and see whatever crosses our path.  That was exactly how we approached today.  We took the shuttle bus from the port, walked to the street, picked a direction, and started walking.  One of the first things we saw was this beautiful church, Cathedrale de la Major, since it’s not far from the port.  It’s right on the water and has some really beautiful exterior facades.    

Cathedrale de la Major, a beautiful church near Vieux-Port

Something we heard repeatedly from the Princess crew was that Marseille is very expensive.  Knowing this, we stopped in a supermarket and got a few drinks and some snacks so that we didn’t have to eat out much.  Next, we found a bakery.  Fred and Kayla got pain au chocolat.  I can’t eat it anymore, but it’s one of the best treats on the planet.  I couldn’t snap a photo quickly enough to get a photo of the actual pain au chocolat.  It was gone in an instant.  Here’s Kayla finishing the last bite.  It’s the best I could do.  They look happy, don’t they?   🙂  Notice the chocolate that’s still on Kayla’s face!

Everyone is happy after eating pain au chocolat!

We were still close to the water at this point, so we took a walk down by the marina, which is really huge.  There was a little market with various stalls there.  We saw soaps, teas, souvenirs, and lots of other items for sale.  All of it looked like great quality and we enjoyed just walking along checking out the goods.  We actually saw several soap vendors like this one in the same market, as well as in quite a few other places in the city.  Soap is just about as prominent there as postcards in the shops catering to tourists.

One of the vendors in Vieux-Port, a seller of scented soaps
A very addictive soap – it actually had a nice scent 🙂
Some of the market stalls along the marina in Vieux-Port
This stall was selling various cookies, biscotti, etc. Fred got a sample and said it was amazing.
Another market stall selling spices

There were a lot of restaurants near the marina, too.  We saw plenty of seafood restaurants and then we saw this place.  I suppose you can get the “all you can eat” type restaurants just about everywhere now, so I shouldn’t be so surprised.

All you can eat “buffets” are everywhere these days

Once we headed away from the marina, we found ourselves in an area with a really great farmer’s market.  We saw plenty of fish, meat, and fresh vegetables.  It was incredible to see all of the people haggling over prices, the brightly-colored fresh produce, and the friendly vendors.  Here are a few shots from the market.  Notice the vendor waving at me in the first shot.  He was a riot and he really made my day!

fruits and veggies being sold by a really friendly vendor
a fishmonger in the local outdoor market
an overview of the market
Fred in the farmer’s market

It wasn’t long afterward that I noticed a great little health food store.  I needed to buy a small amount of matcha tea and I found a tiny package for about 10 euros.  It was a bit pricier that I’d have to pay in Los Angeles, but I was willing to pay for the convenience.

The natural food store where I bought matcha tea

We were soon hungry from walking several miles, so we decided to stop for sushi.  Fred is not a fan of seafood, so he opted for a bagel shop across the street.  The kids and I eat a lot of sushi, so we can get really picky about it.  Although the fish was really fresh at this sushi shop, the rice was too dense and sticky for us.  Our favorite was a salmon avocado roll with mint leaves.  It’s not a combination I’ve seen before in the US and it was surprisingly good.

Kayla and Kyle waiting for sushi

We soon found ourselves walking down a street filled with clothing boutiques.  Check out the parking meters.  They give a countdown for 20 minutes in green and if someone overstays the time limit, the meter starts counting the “over the limit” time in red.  I’m so glad we don’t have these in Los Angeles!

Some high tech parking meters in Marseille

Here’s a shot of the street itself.  It was really quite nice.

a shopping street full of boutiques in Marseille

Here are a few other random shots I took during the day.  It was a gorgeous day out.  The weather was not quite as hot as it has been in other places, so we enjoyed just strolling around and were thrilled that we didn’t need to carry our rain gear or extra drinking water with us.  We got by with our rudimentary knowledge of French and overall had a marvelous day!  Next stop:  Genoa!

a carousel that we saw roaming around Marseille
These planters are really large. In order to get an idea of scale, take a look at the table and chairs near the center of the photo.
Kyle does not know what to think about this fountain.
A view of Vieux-Port, with the water directly to the left of the camera