Marseille : the city by the sea !
The first discovery of this long week-end was Marseille, a city I have never visited before. Indeed, this is the starting point for ferry boats to Corsica, the same ones we took with my family when I was a child but it’s been several decades and the memory of this beautiful city has faded. Situated in the South of France, Marseille is really famous for its harbor and its countless boats and yachts, its cathedral and its football team in blue and white : l’OM.
I limited my visit to the Old Harbor and it was a very good idea because I had only one morning to spend in the city. I had an espresso to start my day in one of the many cafes that line on the harbor. I did not try the famous Bar de la Marine, an institution made famous by the trilogy of Marcel Pagnol because the Saint Victor district, where the Bar is situated, was under construction during my visit and quite noisy.
I chose the other side of the harbor which was sunnier in the morning and had a lovely terrace. While strolling on the Old Port, I was lucky to attend the return of the fishermen selling the fruit of their work. I could also see the cohorts of tourists who photograph themselves upside down in the gigantic mirror in the form of a canopy located at the end of the port. It was pure delight for the eyes and my camera !
I can not advise too much to continue the walk along the harbor up to the Mucem, the new Marseille museum on the European and Mediterranean Civilizations. This place is absolutely exceptional in term of architecture and a real treat for the photographer.
I also had the opportunity to try two nice restaurants, one for lunch and one for dinner with my husband.
The first one is close to the Old Harbor, in a famous neighborhood called the Basket : L’effet clochette (in French, la fée Clochette is Tinkerbell). Very nice with a large terrace, the dishes are typical South of France ones and very fresh. I had a fantastic plate of sea food made especially for me according to my taste, thanks to the very nice waitress ! Can’t recommend it enough !
The second restaurant is called L’abri Cotié. Located on the Boulevard des Baigneurs, it has an extraordinary sea view. You can see the whole city of Marseille from here. The outdoor terrace must be fabulous in summer !!! Complete Ibiza lounge atmosphere ! The food was good and the owner made us feel very welcomed. It was too dark to take any picture when we were there so they are from their web site but this is exactly how it is !
The next day, off we go to Camargue, a Natural Parc, haven for birds and wildlife.
On our first night, we decided to stop at the Mas de Cocagne, a boutique hotel close-by the main city : Les Saintes Maries de la Mer. The pool and the jacuzzi looked great but the weather did not allow us to enjoy it unfortunately. Pictures are from their web site.
The second hotel we had the opportunity to try was truly exceptional: the Lodge Sainte Helene. The lodge is located in the heart of the Launes pond, surrounded by marshes, close to le Petit Rhone and the sea.
The room is absolutely beautiful and decorated with great taste. It opens onto a large terrace that allows you to observe the many birds that live nearby. We have seen swans, water hens, many species of ducks, egrets …
The sunsets and sunrises are sublime. There is a beautiful pool, the water cube, where it must be good to be in summer while avoiding the famous mosquitoes of Camargue of course!
Among the many activities that you can do in Camargue, the ornithological park of the Pont de Gau is a must do for any bird and wildlife lover.
All the emblematic species of Camargue are found there including the graceful pink flamingoes and the great egret.
Another very popular activity is the horseback ride from the marshes to the beach for a memorable gallop.
The Camargue horse is a special french breed : they are white, small and have sure feet in the expanses and marshes filled with water. You ‘ll be able to try also the famous Camargue saddle, very useful to work the cattle as these little horses are used to do, and the typical stirrups.
A place to recommend is Les cabanes de Cacharel located on the scene of the filming of the 1953 movie « Crin Blanc ». They have horses for all levels and guides conscientious and concerned about your well-being and the one of their beautiful horses.
As for the restaurants, we have tried two in Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer : Asti, a nice restaurant that offers traditional dishes from Camargue, of good faction and inexpensive. But above all, we enjoyed A fleur de Sel with great flavors and beautiful presentation with edible flowers. A lot of research from the young chef, Alexandra Middione, who works fresh and local products. We were extremely happy to find this fantastic place and I certainly recommend it !