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on walking to the port upon arriving in marseille

After any absence from Marseille, usually 11 months, this year after 15 months because of the pandemic restrictions, and after settling into the apartment in Endoume, a small quartier to the southwest of the Vieux Port and directly east of the Château d’If where the Comte de Monte-Cristo was imprisoned, according to Dumas, from habit and from interest and with anticipation, I do three things.

I walk my neighborhood and look at the Mediterranean Sea where the Château d’If and the other islands sit. I will walk a short distance into Palais du Pharo area and look to the fort and to the MUCEM and to the Vieux Port and say, “Gosh,” for the panoramic view of all three. I walk then to the Vieux Port and look up at the mirror and then watch the spectacle underway under it, or sometimes nearby.

Never do I tire of the repetition. Each year, when I return to Marseille in October, my stay begins anew, again, with the familiar. I check in again and tell myself, “I am back.”

I take the bus from the port when I arrive. Later, without baggage, I will walk the distance to Endoume. On the bus leaving the port, I stand on the right side where the windows extend and where I will have the best vantage point for seeing the Mediterranean Sea and the islands. Always, emerging onto the Corniche after turning the corner on the bus route, seeing the panoramic view after an absence, again I smile and remember I have been here before.  (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)

The Palais du Pharo, built by Napoleon III, and its grounds and a restaurant are nearby. The bus route, and the walk, veers sharply right, but not taking the right turn but walking straight through the gates, one climbs onto the grounds and into the open space before the palais(Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)

Immediately, without any concern for adverse weather conditions, out there wanting to be touched, if only we could, are the Fort Saint-Jean, the MUCEM, the Tour du Fanal, Place d’Armes, the Vieux Port and its boats. I might even see the ferry that took me to Corsica.

Later, maybe after lunch on the terrace at the Chalet du Pharo, I will go to the Vieux Port de Marseille. (It has one of the best views in Marseille while eating.)  (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)

At the port I see first the mirror built over the pedestrian way. It is unnerving and makes people laugh and play. Photographs are taken. School children, brought to the port on an outing by their teachers, are giddy and cannot stand still.

And, hopefully, I see the spectacle, the French term for these performances. Young men, fit and gregarious, do acrobatic and circus-like stunts to music. They engage the audience, bringing them near the circle. The same men perform each time.  (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)

(The photographs in black and white are taken with a Kodak Tri-X 400 simulation.)


5 Comments Post a comment
  1. Sheila Ruhland #

    Hi Michael, Your way of traveling reminds me of how I travel; I walk the neighborhoods. But it also reminds me of how lonely I felt a lot in Europe.

  2. nalta615 #

    As always, thank you Michael…always enjoy these…love the photos and
    the stories.

    • Michael Groves #

      And as always, Diane, it is nice for me to see you are taking an interest. soon you will be back in France.

      ———— Michael I start my morning with an espresso and [un Voyageur] (

  3. Alina #

    Beautiful writing. You made me miss Marseille and the gorgeous hike in the Calanques!

    • Thanks, Alina. Marseille is a wonderful city and there are many reasons for coming back each year. I am thinking of heading to the Calanques, possibly to Goudes, a little village. It takes me three buses to get there. A+


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