"City Port Took My Blues Away" (Marseilles, France)

I spent today on a lovely excursion to Watkins Glen, New York with my mom and sister. Walking the piers and later enjoying the most perfect Lobster Cobb salad one could imagine, I was reminded of a certain fact about my feelings towards docks, fish, boats, and water in general:

I love waterside communities. I love marinas where boats of sea-goers from every walk of life moor at the edge of the big blue waiting to begin a journey. Even better are European port cities–pockets of the wide open sea tucked under the wing of a bustling urban environment. Such is the Vieux-Port (“old port” in French) of Marseilles, France.

The Watkins Glen piers along Seneca lake do remind me of a much smaller scale Vieux Port, in a way. The above picture could have been taken in a marina from either location for example, but the same could not be said for some of the photos that follow.

Marseilles backs up from Vieux Port to the second largest city in France after Paris. Walking down Rue Canebiere, it’s actually quite shocking how quickly this bustling broadway of art and culture cuts of completely and veers off in two gangly arms hugging a narrow boatyard hedged by cafes, cocktail lounges, tea rooms, hotels, and theaters.

As the stereotypical French high-life continues on either side of the port, directly in front of the wharf the culture quickly turns Mediterranean as fishmongers sell fresh wares every morning. And I mean fresh. They were literally hauling in loads of seafood while we stood there watching people barter at the fish market. The men and women who work the docks are dirty, gruff, and boisterous like characters out of a Dickens seaside epic.

This is not the glamorous lifestyle I associated with France before our trip, but it is a side of the country I am glad to have experienced. Who would have known that we are so similar in the Finger lakes region of New York state to the Marseillaises of France?

View of Notre Dame de la Garde from the Old Port

More pics of Marseilles’ Old Port and one freaking huge fish after the jump!

They hauled in a humongous swordfish right as we got there!

Just a lace parasol in a seaside shop

Napolean’s crazy brother demanded that this enormous castle be built over the port, and then he never lived there.


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