This day, thursday, one day after Bastille Day, was an adventure. To start off, my people and I walked down to Hertz Rental Car on Rue Victor Hugo to try to retrieve a lost item. The day before Bastille Day, we rented a car (a Chevy, if you can believe that!) and went to see the French Provencal countryside (the Lower Luberon Mountain area)… We drove the narrow country roads (I say we when it was really only Nelson, the Brave) to find lavender fields, Absinthe tasting rooms, and to see the wine and olive groves. All was lovely, got tons of photos (including Harold in a lavender field… see squidrowcomics.com for some pics) but the only damper on the day, was Nelson forgot his iPad in the little car’s trunk. Of course, Bastille Day Hertz was closed and we couldn’t talk to anyone about it. We don’t have a phone, and email won’t get you to the local establishment.
So this morning, we shoot down to Hertz and by a wonderful stroke of good happiness… the car didn’t immediately go back out due to the holiday… we had success in retrieving the ipad…. and Nelson got to show it off to the French counter folks there at the car place (they haven’t had the ipad here for very long). Okay… we do this, grab a cup of cafe au lait, and right across the street is the train station… where one can catch a train to say… even more southern France than we are… to Marseille which is right on the Med. This is what we do having packed a lunch and brought suits and towels.
When the train gets to Marseille we head down the hill from the station (it’s at the top of a rather large hill)… this is where planning would come handy. This is where we sorta failed. We figured that we’d get off the train, follow the signs to the Plage (beach)… nope… no signs… took the wrong street which took us down to the port where the big ships come in… and there was tons of construction and yucky businesses and garages. It warn’t a pretty neighborhood. Crankyness ensued… but with continued walking (IN VERY hot weather) we made it around to a Lovely Cathedral with an Arab feel (Cathedral Major)… unfortunately the doors had just shut for mass. And with further walking we find the Marina area… where the fun boats and stuff are.
I had to laugh as we made our way around the point, because we saw these large boats and yachts moored there on the water. Remember Le Car? Well here was a yacht named… Le Yacht. How original.
Anyhow… relieved to have at least found water, we walked down there at boat’s edge and found a ferry to the plage… yay! Except it just took us to the other side of the marina. We did experience another Line Jumper and his dog Elliot. Apparently if you have a cute dog (Elliot was a Jack Russell), it allows you to sneakily cut in line.
So here we are baking in the hot southern France sun! We can’t find the beach, and we decide that despite having packed a lunch, we were stopping at a cafe to eat. And over a Pastis and a wonderful salad, we adjust our plans. No further walking to find a beach! We are going to take a boat ride. Nelson found us a place to launch from on the WiFi on his newly reclaimed iPad.
The boat we launch out on takes us to the island that is the setting for Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo, Ile d’If. I have not read the book, but Nelson has, and it’s about a fella who escapes from the prison there. The prison actually existed and so It’s like a French version of Alcatraz. Chateau d’If (the castle on the island) has all these prison cells you can walk around in and plaques to read (if your french is good) … it’s quite interesting and the views of Marseille are gorgeous!
So once we roamed around the island and all around the castle, we were exhausted. The boat leaves the island every 30 minutes and then takes you to another close-by island that has restaurants and shopping. We decided to pass on this excursion and head back. But there was one thing left to do before we could find our way back to the train station. We had to put our feet in the Med.