TuT International Visit 2019

Thu 16th May 2019 at 04.00 - Sun 19th May 2019 - 23.00

Our international Weekend trip was to Marseille in southern France in May 2019

Our annual weekend away in 2019 in Marseille surprised us with its laisser faire attitude and easy going style. Sticky moments at airport were unglued patiently by our long-suffering organiser Charles Baroudi, and our arrival at the hotel was not long delayed. We ventured out immediately in our small groups, mostly buying a ‘Marseille Passe’ giving us free access to trains, buses, trams and museums, even including the tourist train and open top bus, or a trip on the boat!

The boat trip was to the island of If, a chateau-prison island famed for housing the Count of Monte Cristo (if he had been real), offering wonderful views back across the bay from the towers and battlements. Back on Marseille quayside, a huge stainless steel canopy designed for Marseille by Sir Norman Foster demanded ubiquitous selfies from on-high.  A guided walking tour of the Old Port was included in the Passe and took us climbing numerous steps up and down tiny narrow streets, into hidden squares and hearing the history of the Pannier district, which had been rather left to its own devices during redevelopment of the city. The little train or the open top bus both took you up to Notre Dame de la Garde, with more splendid views of the whole city spread below on all sides of the hill. Inside the Cathedral, there were boats and planes hanging up and commemorative plaques to tell the stories they represented. The restaurant below the main concourse was notably run by the nuns and everything stopped for silent prayer on the hour and a gentle hymn. Talking of restaurants and as you would expect, there were thousands of possibilities. We took the advice of the hotel staff and ended up in a lovely little square in the Old Port, where we enjoyed bowls of superb bouillabaisse or salads and steaks. Food from every nationality was on offer, but we felt “when in France….” so we looked for French cuisine.

Maison Empereur was a unique hardware store in the middle of Marseille, open since 1827 – an Aladdin’s cave selling everything for the house garden and anywhere else! Many of the group visited the Musec, a modern museum with a strange cover that looked like mesh. It housed exhibitions related to farming, dance, naval history amongst other subjects. We also visited the Museum of the History of Marseille, which was fronted by excavations of the earliest buildings in Marseille built by the Greeks around 2.5k years ago.  Some of the group went to Aix en Provence which was only half an hour by bus; also to Cassis about an hour away by train and bus. Aix was inland and famed for small quiet shops and cafes.  Cassis is an old fishing port, with loads of restaurants around a lovely marina, and tiny narrow streets with even tinier artisan shops. In Cassis we joined in with the local Rotary Clubs of the District (1760) who were assembled for a game of Petanque. They sent their greetings to our President and Club members.

On the last evening, as always, a meal together had been arranged for our whole group of 22 and this time it was upstairs in Le Bouchon in the Old Port. Charles Baroudi was thanked for all his hard work, and we returned home well-fed and watered, tired and happy.