With each visit, when I descend from the bus in Martigues, I wonder why I wanted yet again to visit. What one sees does not elicit much confidence. Will the day will be worth the 30-45 minutes bus ride from Marseille?
The Place des Aires, where I get off the bus, is a terminal without buildings and may even be a park with large bus lanes. It is adjacent to the water which makes it somewhat pleasant.
However, when you stand there, waiting for the bus to leave you behind, and you look around for that inspiration to explore, and when you remember having heard or read that Martigues is definitely worth a visit, you begin to have misgivings that maybe, just maybe, you have been had.
Fear not. Whoever told you that Martigues is a gem had learned something.
After walking across the street from the Place des Aires in a direction that suggests a central area–surely–you will see a blue blue bridge. It is blue. There is no escaping it. That bridge is the escape route from the bus stop. That bridge will take you further into the older sections of Martigues. Further along, a moveable bridge will take you into a section of Martigues where tourists rarely venture, simply because it is far away from the port and the central tourist areas. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.) But wait, there’s more!
La Corniche Kennedy of Marseille is a beautiful route along the coast of Marseille. In English the Ledge of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, a long boulevard, goes from the beach at Catalans to the beaches of Prado.
One can reach the Corniche in many ways. It is easy to walk from the Vieux Port; it might take 20 to 30 minutes without pauses for photographs or stopping at Le Pharo. Alternatively from the Vieux Port, one can take a number of buses, the best being #83, which will take you all the way along the coast, the full length of the Corniche, until it turns inland toward the Prado at La Plage.
If it is close enough to walk, bicycles and e-scooters will take you there as well. Tourist buses and a tourist train also make the trip.
Along the boulevard one will find a number of good restaurants. Le Petit Nice and Épuisette are Michelin star restaurants. Others that have excellent reputations are Le Rhul, Chez Michel, Peron, and Chez Fonfon. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)
One day I decided to eat lunch at Épuisette. From the vantage point before descending from the Corniche to the restaurant, I looked out to Chateau d’If, which inspired Le Comte de Monte-Cristo. I turned in the other direction and looked up to Notre-Dame de la Garde, the large basilica on the hill that overlooks Marseille. But wait, there’s more!
La rue est un musée pour tous ! ―Hergé
People say graffiti is ugly, irresponsible and childish . . . but that’s only if it’s done properly. ― Wall and Piece
The Museum is not meant either for the wanderer to see by accident or for the pilgrim to see with awe. It is meant for the mere slave of a routine of self-education to stuff himself with every sort of incongruous intellectual food in one indigestible meal. —G. K. Chesterton
Going inside, walking into a museum, intending to spend two hours, when the sun is shining, the air is warm, the world is teeming, seems wrong, an error.
Why would you want to go inside to an art exhibit? Will it change your perspective of the world? Will it make you happy? Will it inspire you? Will you learn something? Will you have a good time? Will it encourage conversation? Yes.
Imagine a city where graffiti wasn’t illegal, a city where everybody could draw whatever they liked. Where every street was awash with a million colours and little phrases. Where standing at a bus stop was never boring. A city that felt like a party where everyone was invited, not just the estate agents and barons of big business. Imagine a city like that and stop leaning against the wall–it’s wet. –Banksy
What to do when you visit a place where the sun shines daily and you dread going inside? Yet you want to change your perspective of the world and you want something to make you happy and inspire you and maybe help you learn something? And you want to have a good time and talk to someone about what you experience? (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.) But wait, there’s more!
Some years ago when I had visited Marseille for the first time, I happened on Cours Julien. It is in all the guide books on Marseille, and if it is not, I would throw away the book. I had not been to the Office de Tourisme nor had I consulted a Fodors Travel Guide or a Michelin Guide Vert. I had simply wondered about and walked up a street that looked interesting and found myself in Cours Julien.
Ça a été le coup de foudre. It was love at first sight. Je avais tombé amoureux de Cours Julien. OK, maybe, just maybe, I am exaggerating a bit. Let’s say, j’étais en plein de joie de vivre when I saw Cours Julien for the first time. Since then I have returned several times.
Since that first visit, I have looked at guide books and have spoken to people in the tourist office and to the French friends who know Marseille. All tell me that Cours Julien is wonderful, and that it would be a shame not to explore it and the colorful streets that are perpendicular to it.
There is an adventurous way and a less complicated way to walk from the Vieux Port to Cours Julien. The less interesting route is from the Vieux Port up La Canebière, the large boulevard that cuts northeast through the old quarter. Go as far as Boulevard Garibaldi, where you will turn right for a short distance, and then veer left on rue des Trois Mages and soon you will see streets for Cours Julien on the right. You will walk up a short hill. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.) But wait, there’s more!