Posts Tagged ‘L’Estaque’

… is the latest fun activity in Marseille where the massive Digue du Large has been opened to the public for the first time since 2001.  This dyke stretches the 7km from the Vieux Port along to l’Estaque and was built to protect La Joliette and all the boats moored along the docks.



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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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Finally, today, got to visit the Fondation Monticelli which is on the coast, west of Marseille, between L’Estaque and Le Rove.  And what a gallery it is!

It started life as a fort, built in 1861 and standing high on the hillside to defend the coast.  It fell into disrepair and was squatted and graffitied – until it was renovated and opened in 2010 as a home for a collection of paintings by Monticelli.  He was a 19th century Marseille-born artist whose love of colour inspired Van Gogh.  His paintings are on the ground floor of the gallery.

Upstairs is a temporary exhibition of Charles Camoin (1879-1965), also born in Marseille and another joyous colourist.

It was quite hard, though, to concentrate on the paintings with such amazing views through those beautiful arched windows: a sun-drenched panorama of Marseille, la Bonne Mère, the docks, massive white cruise ships, the yachts at L’Estaque….

But these were the very views that inspired Camoin. He loved the area and painted in Marseilles his native town, in Cassis and in St Tropez. He had a studio in Paris from where he painted local sights (below).

His are brightly coloured paintings, beautiful in this sun-filled gallery.

I thought I was making this exhibition just in time as it was supposed to end 30th September, but it is being held over until 7th October.  The gallery director will be giving a guided tour at 15:00 on 5th October.

Fondation Monticelli has a very large free car park from where it is a short walk to the gallery.  It’s open Wed-Sun, 10-17:00hrs.  L’Estaque is a short car-ride down the hill and has quite a few restaurants and cafés – especially good if you like local fish.

There is a walking trail of panels linking the places artists chose to paint from.  More info: http://www.marseille-tourisme.com/en/discover-marseille/city-of-art/lestaque-and-its-painters/ The panels show old photos of L’Estaque and the coast.  It’s striking how much simpler the landscapes were then, with unobstructed views free of the clutter of cars, yachts, big trees, hoardings, parking signs, shops, dockland cranes.  A beautiful coast which Camoin delighted in capturing, as this small expo shows.

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