Marseille is a ancient seaport village embedded in a modern cosmopolitan city. Her once working harbour is now congested with the pleasure yachts of the very wealthy.
Possees of American kids slew by me on their way to the dockside Ferris wheel. They’re stuffing in Big Macs and squawking with their beaks full. Older European couples stroll together linked, admiring the mixed fleet of sailboats, fishing craft, and plastic stinkers. Locals idle at outdoor cafes or zoom by on motorcycles playing Beach Boys Greatest Hits at painful volume. The place is all life in motion.
Marseille reminds me I’m not in Paris anymore. She’s not a museum city, notwithstanding her contribution to the French Revolution. Marseille is right now and too busy to look over her shoulder. People of every color and costume parade by un-selfconsciously.
It’s the morning after St. Patrick’s Day and the clean-up is on outside O’Malley’s Irish Pub and its next door neighbour, the Queen Victoria Inn. The Queen V held a big Paddy’s Day celebration in the great spirit of the Good Friday Accords. This morning they’re hosing the sidewalk in a shared morning-after gloom.
April, April laugh thy girlish laughter
And the morning after
Weep thy girlish tears
I like Marseille and spend the morning on a self-guided walking tour of the Vieux Port. I read graffiti, billboards, and historical markers, happy to exercise my passive French. A toothless old man in a Muslim robes and skull cap smilingly volunteers unintelligible street directions while a pair of weary tarts smoke and gossip over morning expresso. The old man reminds me of St. Murph, Clonakilty’s own bike guru. I smile, wink and walk on.
Tomorrow morning we must leave early to cycle 50km to Fos-Sur-Mer. The route will take us over a spine of coastal mountains on the peninsula. The ‘D’ (District) road appears to merge occasionally with the ‘A’ (Auto – bikes excluded) road. I don’t have a local road map. Ms Von B and I will have an adventure. We’ll be okay unless it rains.
Adieu Marseille, bonjour Fos