Mr Bell’s Mediterranean Cruise: Marseille


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Marseille is France’s second largest city located in the Provence region of the country. Our ship had docked at 8 am in a rather industrial part of the port, sitting drinking coffee on our balcony I knew there had to be more to this city and was looking forward to getting off and exploring.

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A bus was provided and dropped us off in the Vieux Port area of Marseille. This old harbour is the heart of the city and it’s here that we discovered the remains of ancient walls, Roman docks and temples. These days the harbour is filled with yachts and fishing boats and many restaurants that line the waterfront.

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Dominating the Vieux Port is the Basilique Notre Dame de la Garde, a beautiful cathedral sitting on top of a hill that bears resemblance to the Sacre-Coeur in Paris and the Fourviere in Lyon. The church was built in the 19th century in the Romanesque-Byzantine style and is crowned with a statue of the Virgin Mary.

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Just behind Vieux Port are some of Marseille’s oldest streets, narrow and tightly packed with old buildings I found it a fascinating place to wander around.

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At every turn there were discoveries to be made, little squares with restaurants, unique shops and rustic buildings.

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As quickly as we’d gotten lost in the warren of narrow streets we found our way out. In front of us was the beautiful Marseille Cathedral. The present cathedral, the Nouvelle Major, was built on a huge scale in Byzantine-Roman style from 1852 to 1896. It is one of the largest cathedrals in France.

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After leaving the cathedral we made our way back along the waterfront to the Fort Saint Jean where some serious money has been spent creating a modern and very striking new museum complex. The architecture here is very modern but sits well next to the old fort creating a wonderful contrast between the old and the new.

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From here the bus returned us to the ship. Will I return to Marseille, maybe, I was surprised by what I found here but would it be enough to bring me back, I’m not sure.

Next port of call, Mahon Minorca.

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