Posts Tagged ‘Batobus’

You lucky people in Provence with all that sun. Send some to Angleterre! If I were in Aix this week, I would be tempted to head down to Marseille and take the new navette/batobus service to l’Estaque. It’s a 40 minute trip from the Vieux Port; it runs hourly, half past each hour. At 3€ each way, it’s a real bargain. You get a little boat trip which provides fabulous views of the city and all the big boats coming in and out of the docks.

L’Estaque must have been a tranquil port and village during the last century; now there is a lot of traffic and the sea views are compromised by boats and maritime buildings. However there is a walking trail to lead you round the old parts of the town and then out along the jetty to look back at the hillside. Panels show you what the view would have been like when Cézanne lived there, hiding his mistress and baby son from the gimlet eye of his Papa. The other good thing to do in l’Estaque is to treat

Kiosk selling panisse in L'Estaque

Kiosk selling panisse in L’Estaque

yourself to panisse which is a very local speciality. It’s a sausage-shaped chick-pea roll which is sliced, fried in olive oil and then doused in salt. I’m sure it’s really bad for you but it is delicious. Isn’t this always the case? (You can now buy panisse in Aix in Monop, Casino St Jérome and La Vie en Claire).

Back in Marseille, there is a new exhibition of photography ‘Marseille Vu Par 100 Photographes du Monde’ which is running until 10th August. Looks good. Details on http://www.mp2013.fr/evenements/2013/04/marseille-vue-par-100-photographes-du-monde/

If you want to visit the Panier without walking too far, the second circuit for the petit-train is now operational. It chugs up through all the narrow streets of this atmospheric part of town and gives you a half-hour stop up at the top to browse around the shops and cafés. Full details on http://www.petit-train-marseille.com.

One of my favourite pursuits in Marseille is to visit the daily street market which clusters around the Noailles metro. I just love it. You can spend happy hours rooting around the little shops full of goodies from all around the Mediterranean. This pottery IMG_4738shop is so bargainous. The hand-painted dishes from Tunisia are perfect for tagine and under 4€ each….though carting (schepping for you Americans!) a set of 8 back to the Aix navette is heavy work. I always gravitate to the spice shops and investIMG_4741 in lots of little bags of colourful cumin, ground coriander and ras-el-hanout. In fact I have brought some back with me to fill my chilly English kitchen with some southern sunshine and aromas of the Mediterranean. I can dream….

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Here’s the latest on getting around town.

navetteThe navette to Pointe-Rouge is back in service after the winter break.  It goes daily, on the hour, from the Quai des Belges (same as the boats to Frioul) and costs 3€ each way.  The journey takes 40 mins each way, and if you are just doing it for a boat-ride, you have to get off at Pointe-Rouge while the driver has  his cigarette, and then get back on again when it departs, on the hour.  Or you can take a picnic to the beach and pick up a later shuttle. What a bargain! I read that last year, its first year in service, it had double the expected number of punters so there may well be queues, as indeed there were when I went on it. Not surprising – it’s a really scenic trip. The new navette service to l’Estaque starts on April 13th.  Note that they don’t operate if the weather conditions are adverse. 

In the Vieux Port, the solar-powered ferry has gone and is being replaced by the reconditioned old favourite the César.  This takes people across the VP from outside the Hotel de Ville.  I think the solar ferry is going to be used in the docks area but I don’t have this info yet.

Further up the Quai du Port is the new terminus for le Petit Train.  petit-trainThis is operating daily 10-12, 14-16.  It goes up to Notre Dame de la Garde where there is a 30 minute stop then it takes visitors a picturesque way back along the coast and over the little inlets like the pretty Anse des Auffes.  It’s 7€ for adults 4€ for children.  The Petit Train service through the Panier starts next month.  There is also an electric bus service which runs around the VP and costs 50 centimes.

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Three new things to report in Marseille. Firstly the Batobus.  This service from the Vieux Port along to Pointe Rouge is designed to divert some of the traffic away from the Corniche.

It will take 30-40 minutes, with 13 in each direction each day, 07:00-19:00hrs.  The boats which will be a little like the Frioul navettes (right) will take 100 people.  The journey will be free for Transpass holders or 2,5€ each way.

Problems cited have been the lack of parking at Pointe Rouge and also the Mistral which might turn a commute into a queasy experience.  But apparently the Frioul boats have only been cancelled 70 times out of 5959 crossings and at least this one is closer into land. I should imagine it will be popular with tourists wanting to go down to the beaches in summer.

Secondly, there is an exhibition of paintings at the Vieille Charité called Marseille en Peinture which celebrates the town and the 100th anniversary of the Comité du Vieux-Marseille who are dedicated to preserving the patrimoine. 10:00-18:00, daily exc. Mondays.

And finally – and not before time – there is a really good website to help us know what is going on in Marseille.  It’s colourful, clearly laid out and (for now) up-to-date.  When I saw the launch on the local news they said that there was an English version but it must be well-hidden – I couldn’t find it – perhaps it will come online at some point.  The new site is on www.culture.marseille.fr.


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