Sunday, December 1, 2013

Our Ship Docks in Marseille, France

During the night of October 31st our ship sailed along the Côte d'Azur for 140 nautical miles from Monte Carlo (Monaco) to Marseille.

Provence, France
Arriving at dawn into the huge commercial port of the city of Marseille, there were container ships, freighters, tankers, cruise ships, ferries, fishing trawlers, cargo cranes and endless numbered wharves.   The Grand port maritime de Marseilleis is the largest commercial port in France with some 43,000 jobs linked to port activities.  It was not going to be a simple walk into the city.  We purchased a shuttle bus transfer into the Old Port (Vieux-Port) and were dropped off downtown about two blocks from the harbor. It was a bank holiday (All Saints Day), so we were advised to check with the nearby Tourist Office nearby to see what was open that day. I wanted to see the MuCEM (MUSÉE DES CIVILISATIONS DE L’EUROPE ET DE LA MÉDITERRANÉE) that had just opened its doors in June of this year.  

The MuCEM is part of the bold rennovation of the port of Marseille that includes the Villa Méditerranée, an architectural work of art next door to the MuCEM that is used to promote cultural understanding and dialogues among the countries of the Mediterranean.  

The Villa Méditerranée reflecting pool

Villa Méditerranée is a conference center for the Mediterranean peoples

The MuCEM includes Fort Saint Jean which has been rennovated as well. The tourist representative spoke excellent English and told me the MuCEM was open at 11AM and she provided me with a map and the bus lines to take and their cost (1.80) as well as an electric shuttle bus called the City Navette (fare 0.50€). She handed me a bag of jelly beans and smiled as I left.  Ron and I walked a block to the bus stop and soon boarded the City Navette shuttle.  We offered €1 to cover our fare, but the driver refused to take it.  He dropped us off in front of the MuCEM and we got into the queue that was waiting for the MuCEM to open in 15 minutes.  After waiting about 45 minutes, we entered the lobby and headed toward the line for tickets when a young man took us to the front of the line, explaining that it was free to both of us because Ron had a walker to assist his walking.  He showed us the elevator and we went up to the terrace garden and cafe.  I wandered around Ft. Saint Jean and took pictures of the nearby Marseille Cathedral (Cathédrale Sainte-Marie-Majeure de Marseille), the sea and the port, and of the fort and gardens.  

Marseille Cathedral from the MuCEM

Tower of Fort Saint Jean

Entrance to the Old Port's harbor

The gardens of Ft. Saint Jean

Walking through a tunnel at Ft. Saint Jean

There was a wonderful multi-media exhibition of the history, art, exploration, and culture of the Mediterranean civilizations within the fort's buildings.  Four languages subtitled the French narration.

The video covered the ceilings within the old fort

The walkway between the MuCEM and Ft. Saint Jean

Walkway from MuCEM to Ft.Saint Jean

View from Ft. Saint Jean

Notice of an exhibit on women bullfighters in MuCEM

Outside the MuCEM

Inside the MuCEM
Leaving the MuCEM, we caught the City Navette shuttle back to the Old Port. The cost was €1 and was all we had spent for several hours in Marseille. We stopped at the historic La Samaritaine Brasserie for lunch of Salad Niçoise for me and steak haché frites et salade for Ron, and of course, wine and coffee, as we relaxed in the very center of the Old Port watching people.

I went shopping nearby to get some Provence soaps, lavender sachets, and a few other souvenirs before we had to leave Marseille.  Provence is famous for their soaps and lavender.

Nice Christmas gifts and a few fragrant soaps for me, too.

After lunch, we walked back to our shuttle to take us back to our ship.  Our ship left port at 4:00PM, headed for our final disembarkation port of Barcelona, Spain.  Our friends, Bob and Sharon, joined us in our stateroom as we opened the bottle of red Tuscany wine I had purchased in Florence.  We watched as we sailed out of the bay surrounded by the beautiful countryside of Provence.  I definitely want to return to Provence and Marseille one day.  It is a very interesting area.


  1. What a wonderful cruise and series of posts. It's all good but I think Florence would be my favorite destination. .....:)

    1. This trip was wonderful and I'm so glad we took it as a cruise. If our health and money hold out, perhaps we will return to one of these areas we have seen, stay for several weeks, get a rental car and explore the country at a slower pace.. .