on wandering the back streets of le panier once again looking for wall art
After descending from Paris to Marseille, I repeat activities each time. As soon as possible after arriving, I want to drink that first pastis. (I could order it Paris, but I am writing about Marseille now. It is not really a Paris drink.)
I need to buy a bar of savon de Marseille, maybe a second for the trip back to Portland. I want definitely to walk along the water front outside my apartment, and look out to the islands and to Château d’If, where the Comte de Monte-Cristo castle is perched and unmistakable from a distance.
I want as soon as possible the return to Le Panier, a neighborhood to the north of the Vieux Port. I return initially, after arriving in Marseille, because I want to see the wall art and the graffiti. I wonder if the past art has worn or chipped away. I wonder if any new art has appeared.
In addition to Le Cours Julien in another neighborhood, Le Panier is one of the best places to explore the streets for the wall art. I have often walked the maze of streets there and taken many photographs. The images on the walls never seem to end.
The last time I was in Marseille was October, 2019. I had to cancel my lease for 2020 because of the pandemic. Arriving after a two year absence felt exhilarating. Everything was familiar but in a foreign sense. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)
The train station was the same; the crowds had not changed; the metro worked the same way, and I knew which one to take and in which direction; the bus stop for #83 had not moved; and except for some upgrades, my application for the transportation lines and schedules was there and ready to use. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)
My life, where I had left it in October, 2019, was back and familiar. But I still wanted to sit somewhere and sip that pastis with the Mediterranean Sea sun warming me.
After settling into my apartment in the quartier d’Endoume in the seventh arrondissement and after catching up with the latest news with the landlord, I went to a local café bar for that pastis. Check that one off. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)
The following day, a Saturday, I took the bus back to the port, got off at Place aux huiles, and took the small ferry across the port to the northern side. From there, I walked round and about and began to climb the stairs next to the cathedral and, as I have experienced many times, I was in the familiar shadows of the maze of streets and alley ways of Le Panier.
Few of the streets are straight. Some signs exist, for La Vieille Charité, for example. Otherwise, it is a good idea to orient oneself with the GPS of a smart phone or do it the old fashioned way with a map. The streets are marked. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)
Many new and freshly painted wall art appears on side streets and what likes a dead end passage. Often I did not see anyone nearby. Sometimes though a local would open a window and peer out. Once I stood too long at the top of one narrow street, and a local opened her door and shook out a rug. I believe I was spotted from above, and someone made a call.
Several years ago, finding a decent restaurant in Le Panier was hard. Today it is rather chic in spots with some modest boutiques that have opened. It is rare these days when I do not eat well in Le Panier. Sometimes in fact I will return to the area just to return to a favorite restaurant. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)