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les calanques and 3 hours from marseille

If given the choice—either, or—where would you choose to live? Paris or Marseille? Some might balk at choosing from those cities.

Paris, for some, would be crossed off the list because 1) everyone wants to live there, so why go there; 2) one has visited Paris enough to know that other cities and villages are a better choice—Peter Mayle settled in Provence, for example; 3) one has Paris, the city, and then what?

Marseille for others would be a ridiculous choice: 1) too many people live there of African and Middle Eastern descent; 2) it is too dangerous; 3) the mafia controls everything; 4) it is not Paris; 5) ?.

I have often wondered where I would live. For a long time both cities, Paris and Marseille, have thrilled me. I have spent long periods of time in Toulouse, Lyon, and Montpellier as well. The number of villages where I have explored are countless.

« J’adore Marseille. » I say that to my landlord in Marseille all the time. Something has surprised me and my response is often, « J’adore Marseille. » I am seldom surprised in Paris. I don’t say to my Paris landlord, « J’adore Paris. » I am not sure she would appreciate the comment. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)

“One has Paris, the city, and then what.” One cannot say that about Marseille. The adventures are every where in Marseille. One can venture from Paris for a day. From Marseille the cities and villages are endless and historic and easily accessible by public transport.

Marseille has the Mediterranean Sea and the calanques. Paris does not. I would choose Marseille.  (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)

I have taken the boat ride (3 hours) many times along the coast as far as Cassis and viewed the calanques, the vast and sheer crags that drop down to the sea. It begins in the Vieux Port.  (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)

I suggest leaving early in the morning and booking the longest trip (3 hours). It will go as far as Cassis before turning back to Marseille. Another trip along the calanques can be taken, but starting either from Cassis or La Ciotat. It would further extend the trip between Marseille and Cassis.

The ride out of the Vieux Port past the sail boats and between Le Palais du Pharo and Le fort Saint-Jean is fun. Let’s not forget the photos one can take of the Mucem and the ferries about to depart for Corsica. On high, of course, is the Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde(Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)

On the boat and from a distance from the shore line, one notices isolated pins parasols which have managed to survive growing out of the crevices of stone.

The cliffs are sheer and uncompromising. The entire area has been declared a National Park.

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