Marseille & Provence Chapter 9 : Last night in Marseille

After the morning visit to Le Pannier and then to Notre Dame,  I needed to explore more of this vibrant city. The weather was fine so I took the car from the parking of Notre Dame and headed to the Le Corbusier famous Unite d’ habitation development which is relatively near, along boulevard Michelet and also near to Stade Velodrome, the home to Olympique de Marseille

I managed to park in the boulevard, very near the famous building. The development itself is quite interesting, it is a modernist building erected right after the war and is a prime example of the architect’s massive housing design principle of the same name. The site in Marseille is also known as Cite Radieuse (the radiant city) is the first and most important of those buildings. Some roofs and the top are is open to the public as there is also a hotel, restaurant and cafe.

It was a nice visit, I guess people with better background in architecture would enjoy it more but even for me it was quite interesting. I stopped for a refreshment break in the cafeteria. The views were very nice from there and even better from the rooftop (which looks like an ocean liner)

After Le Corbusier’s I wanted to visit the Les Docks-Euromediteranee are. This part of the city is a recent (last 20 years development), right between the main port and the city proper. This area used to be related to port activities and was a little run down and seedy, but after a lot of money and projects were invested there, it now is a modern shopping/entertainment/culture/business hub that has revitalised the area. The project is still ongoing as there are designs that have not been constructed yet

Getting there proved to be more problematic though. I wanted to leave the car at the underground parking near the old port and go there by bicycle. But the traffic to the old port was huge, as it was Sunday midday and everybody seemed to be going there. I finally managed to get there with more than 30 minutes delay. I guess if I cycled it would be quicker (and more fun!)

I finally managed to get to the parking and was relieved to leave the car there and get the bicycle from the sharing station in the port. Cycling to Les Docks was straightforward and more fun, even involving the little climb to get there

I left my bicycle in the parking station in the far end and entered the Les Docks Village mall. This is a unique mall, built with a lot of fantasy inside the very long old dock warehouse facilities. Imagine a large mall but on the horizontal, not on the vertical. Ápart from the shops, there vere several below ground ‘squares’ for cafe/food/entertainment and also places for cultural activities.

In one of these squares, I had a small break for a short lunch : A specialty from Bretagne (an area in the north of France), a kind of crepe with tomato and cheese, and a glass of wine. Yummy

After this light lunch I hopped across the street to another, more “traditional” mall, the Les Terrases du Port . I bought some gifts for home, but I also went outside to the terraces where you have a splendind view over the main port. They have put chairs and chaise-longues there so you could sit and enjoy the sea.

I could have stayed there and watch the sunset, but I prefered to do it from the Vieux Port. So I got out, got another bike and quickly cycled to the old port, near my base. I made it just in time enjoy the best sunset in my stay as there were just enought clouds to make it dramatic. I managed to shoot several photographs, including shots for HDR and long exposures.

After that, as the night fell I went back to my hotel for some rest. For the last night I went to Cours Julien which is a most bohemian neighbourhood just off  from the center. I again used the bicycle and cycled up there (it is a little uphill and steep but not so much). I left the bicycle in the sharing station walked around a little and sat for dinner in one of the several restaurants there. The food was nice, some local recipie involving meat and pasta.

The area is filled with many shops, bars etc but there were not so many people around, comparing to the vieux port. Seems it is more fashionable during the day.

After dinner, I left to go back to the old port and my hotel. A funny incident happened : The bicycle I got from the sharing station was damaged : one could roll but not pedal – there seemed to be problem with the chain but I could not fix it since unlike usual bikes the chain was protected by a casing. I didn’t notice at first because I was going downhill. Anyway, I just rolled with the … gravity, just going down without pedal. I wanted to change bicyles in the next station but it was completely empty, so I kept on rolling until I reached the Canebierre, left the bicycle on the station there and just continued on foot to the Old Port

I had brought my tripod along and took some real night, long exposure shots. I really wanted to do this from the first night, as the old port is magnificent in the night. After that I returned to the hotel for the last sleep in Marseille. I had to start in the morning for the way bac to Athens 🙂



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