… fish stew from Massilia.

marseille_vieux_port, originally uploaded by zutalegh.

Or Marseille, as it is known today. Unlike Asterix and Obelix, however, Bouillabaisse wasn’t the reason for our visit to the 3rd largest city in France. Nor was it the wish to watch Olympique, which is struggling to secure a spot for next year’s Euro League. Nope, we were visiting friends, taking advantage of the very nice TGV connection from Geneva (only 3.5h, no changing). Of course, this winter causing chaos and craziness throughout Europe’s train network, our journey ended up being about twice as long as expected… Oh well, what can you do besides stay at home?
I have never been to the Mediterranean in winter, and even though temperatures were slightly warmer than home, the mix of sea smell and atmosphere with wintery chill was curious… What made the chill turn into a full-blown freeze was the Mistral, which brings icy cold air from the North throughout the whole year. I had actually thought that the Mistral is more of a hot summer wind, but boy, was I mistaken (that hot summer wind is called Sirocco and is less frequent). Especially on higher ground the chill factor was harsh. On our way up to the Notre Dame de la Garde, a basilica that overlooks the whole city from about 150m altitude, a local laughed at us for being so foolish. I admit that it was very painful holding my camera without gloves up there, but the view was magnificient.
Marseille’s old town and harbor are charming and I had a great time there, Mistral or not. We even had some fish stew, and though I do not know if it qualified as a authentic Bouillabaisse, it was very delicious (as was the Profiterol afterwards… :)). Check out my pics on flickr!