Posts Tagged ‘Vieux Port’

The F1 mini-roadshows in 8 villages in Provence have been a great success with crowds of people turning out to see these events organised by Renault.  Now finally we have the date for the roadshow in MarseilleFriday 22nd June, the evening before the F1 weekend at the Paul Ricard circuit. (more…)

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It’s not often  you get back from lunch in Marseille with sand between your toes but that happened yesterday after a trip to dine at Pointe Rouge. La Provence had recommended ‘O Pedalo’ whose terrasse is literally in the sea – and I just had to try it.

The navette or water-taxi from the Vieux Port (3€ each way, on the hour) drops you 40 minutes later at Pointe Rougeactu-2014Navettes%20Maritimes%20Estaque%2008-05-2013%20(40a)(1) which is one of the last beaches before the headlands and calanques. This trip is in itself is a treat on a sunny day, sailing through the port out past the Chateau d’If then along the coast past yachts skimming the surface and ferries ploughing through the sea.

O Pedalo is the last in a row of restaurants lining the sandy beach.  It’s run by two brothers who have been in business here for the past 20 years. Their motto is ‘etre souriant et serieux’ and they take pride in having very fresh ingredients.

The menu is pretty eclectic with fish and seafood to the fore….loup, daurade, sardines calamars entiers grillés, salads, soups, pizzas and pastas.  La Provence praised their seiche entire grillée, soupe de poisons de roche maison and la souris d’agneau au thym et romarin. During the week, they have an express menu at 10 or 13,90€, and the wine list features mainly local Cotes de Provence wines. restaurant-les-pied My three dining companions had various fish dishes which they enjoyed and I was very happy with a vegetarian alternative which was for once cooked properly and with attention – a spaghetti pesto with masses of fresh basil, tomatoes and cheese in a delicious sauce. Desserts were just ices and sorbets from the freezer which was disappointing; but the service was impeccable and very friendly.IMG_7540

Afterwards, we climbed down a wooden ladder onto the beach and paddled all the way along through the warm sea to get the boat back to town. It was hard to believe we were in France’s second city.  This is a delightful summer’s treat and I should think a fun excursion with visitors.  The only fly in the ointment could be the capacity of the boat, especially during peak holiday season.  Best maybe to have details  of the buses too.

O Pedalo is open daily in the summer months – 11:45-14:30 and 19:30-23:00hrs.  It closes from November to March each year.





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The Musée Regards de Provence houses a wonderful collection of paintings by local artists, giving visitors a special experience: when in Provence why not admire pictures of Provence?

PanierUnfortunately the museum is still bedevilled by construction work which seems to have been going on forever.  Visitors have to walk the gauntlet of diggers and bollards and zigzag round mesh screens.  But it’s worth it to see ‘Marseille the Eternal’.

This selection focuses on the town of Marseille which was a magnet for local painters.  There are views of the Vieux Port, the boats, the fishermen, storms at sea and of course the streets and the townspeople.

This painting (left) is by Joseph Marius Hurard who worked from narrow streets of the Panier, looking across to the church of Notre Dame de la Garde. You can enjoy the very same view by walking round from the gallery into the Panier to stand in the same spot.  And there’s still lots of washing at the windows!

 Another Joseph, Joseph Garibaldi, had his atelier on the Vieux Port during the 19th century and loved to paint the boats in the harbour.  Impressionism, Fauvism, Cubism came and went but he painted on in his own style, faithfully reproducing what he could see. 


The detail on this painting (Le Port de la Joliette) is very fine and it is especially fascinating when you have just walked along past all the buildings and indeed the Cathedral where all the development for the new shopping centre (Les Halles) is taking place.  I don’t know what he would have made of all the construction work and indeed the shiny new Terrasses du Port.  What a tranquil scene it seems back inthe 1890s.  But despite all the developments, the sea is still beautifully blue, the boats ply their trade and people enjoy the streets, cafés and the beach.  There is indeed something eternal about Marseille.

Daily 10-18:00; Until 25th January, 2015.  www.museeregardsdeprovence.com.



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Groupe F, who lit up the Athens Olympics, the 1998 World Cup closing ceremony and the opening of the Millenium celebrations at the Eiffel Tower, will be marking the end of MP2013 with a massive (more…)

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Before we get to the future of J1, just a few words about Fort St Jean.fortstjean

MUCEM gets much of the attention and deservedly so, but the renovation of Fort St Jean has been equally spectacular considering what a sad run-down old building it was. It would have been easy to turn it into another exhibition venue but instead it was transformed into a fabulous free space for eating and picnicking, for climbing up for views, for sunbathing, for boat-spotting.

Until recently a dilapidated old building

Until recently a dilapidated old building

Now a fabulous open space for enjoying the views

Now a fabulous open space for enjoying the views

The attention to detail has been admirable with its provision of wide steps, large rocks and ledges for impromptu seating as well as polished wooden sun-loungers. The Mediterranean planting scheme is inspired and I love the vegetable gardens supplying the restaurant.

We sat there one summer day watching the armada of 2013 boats sailing past, a popular event, but the old fort absorbed crowds of people with ease. Its military past, as a defensive tower and then a WW2 ammunition store for the occupying troops, is behind it. How wonderful that it is now dedicated to peaceful pursuits with local families able to enjoy the superb position at the mouth of the Vieux Port. Well done to architect Roland Carta who worked with Rudy Riccotti to effect this transformation and landscape architects APS from Valence.

Meanwhile, along the seafront at J1, there is a debate as to what will happen to the superb hangar once the year of culture is over.  To my astonishment I read that there is a proposal to turn it into a casino…or to site a casino next to MUCEM.  http://www.laprovence.com/article/actualites/2668151/poker-menteur-autour-du-casino-de-marseille.html  I always thought people in casinos sat in darkened and curtained rooms (or is that just in films?) – they don’t need a prime sea-view – do they?

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Christmas is starting earlier every year in Provence – and this weekend sees the beginning of the action in Marseille.

The Marché de Noel begins this Saturday, 16th November – the cabins are already in place for selling their soaps, toys and of course food and wine for the Christmas table.  Alongside, the big wheel is up and ready to give visitors a thrilling ride and, I should imagine, some wonderful views across town.

The Foire aux Santons opens on the same day in chalets on the Canebiere.  The following day there will be the traditional Mass for the santoniers at Saint Vincent de Paul, and, after their procession down the Canabiere to the Vieux Port, mayor Jean-Claude Gaudin will declare the Christmas season open.  Lots of free family animations are promised – music, clowns, and so on – 12:00, November 17th, Vieux Port. 

The santoniers have a good website: http://www.foire-aux-santons-de-marseille.fr/  I wonder if, in the fullness of time, there will be a web-developer santon?

IMG_6319Sadly, it will not be possible to eat at the  good ship Le Marseillois this Christmas. The ‘floating restaurant’ which sank back in September is still under water (see photo taken today).  No news of plans to refloat the boat…

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It must have been so exciting in 1967 when, excavating the site for the new centre commercial at the Bourse, they started turning up all manner of Greek and Roman remains, including large pieces of boats(more…)

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Marseillois-630x420Sad news from the Vieux Port in that Le Marseillois – the old boat transformed into a floating restaurant – sank this morning.  (more…)

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Hello to All!

In Aix again after a memorably sunny summer in beautiful Oxfordshire……but it’s good to be back and really amazed at the variety of events happening this coming weekend.

musique%20dans%20la%20rue%202013We’re just in time to enjoy some of the free music in town at the moment. ‘Musique dans la Rue’, which is running each evening until Sunday (8th Sept), brings together musicians, choirs and bands from the region but also from some of our twin towns. The programme starts at 18:00 with short performances in various venues around centre ville. Info: musique_dans_la_rue_prog[1]

More music is promised at the weekend with the opening of the new Conservatoire. This is the fourth building of the town’s ‘forum culturel’ which includes the Grand Theatre de Provence, the Pavillon Noir and the Cité du Livre. Frankly taking one historical building then adding the work of three different architects could be a recipe for a ‘mishmash culturel’….but I’ll reserve judgement until I’ve been to have a closer look.

At any rate, the events kick off on Friday (6th Sept) at the Cité du Livre at 17:00 with films of architect Kengo Kuma explaining his philosophy of urban architecture so perhaps that will enlighten. 

Saturday and Sunday see ‘Portes Ouvertes’ 10:00-20:00 when visitors can dip into public rehearsals and music workshops. Sunday sounds even better with ‘Piano Brunches’ taking place from 11-16:00 in the three other buildings. It’s a full programme of events so take a look at http://www.aixenprovence.fr/Programme-Inauguration-du-nouveau for more detail. Over 1400 students are expected to attend the conservatoire from this autumn. In the meantime, their previous home, the Hotel de Caumont in rue Joseph Cabassol, will be extensively remodelled before opening as an art gallery.


If, rather than watching other people perform, you fancy getting stuck in yourself, Assogora on Sunday provides plenty of opportunities. It’s a huge open-air market of stalls from societies representing dance, music, painting, sports, hiking, and all sorts of different hobbies and interests. This year it will be lining the cours Mirabeau and Les Allées Provencales from 10-20:00. Details on http://www.assogora.org/.

septMarseille manages to amaze yet again with its creativity. The 15th ‘Septembre en Mer’ festival which is running all this month has some really special activities to celebrate le grand bleu.  I very much like the sound of this concert:floatingpiano

There will be two performances by off-shore musicians on Friday and Saturday evenings – pay a contribution (10€ suggested) to sit on the beach and enjoy the music. Details here: http://www.mp2013.fr/evenements/2013/09/un-piano-a-la-mer-2/?lang=en

One of the highlights is a vast flotilla of  boats in the bay on Saturday. The ‘Grand Parade Maritime de Marseille’ will sail between Pointe Rouge and l’Estaque. The head-turner promises to be the beautiful Belem, one of the oldest sailing ships still in service. Plus there is Gyptis, a replica of the 6th century Greek boat that brought ashore the founders and original inhabitants of this surprising city. Both boats will be moored in the Vieux Port on Sunday for closer inspection.

See the Belem, one of the oldest sailing ships afloat, on Saturday and Sunday in Marseille

See the Belem, one of the oldest sailing ships afloat, on Saturday and Sunday in Marseille

The esplanade from the Vieux Port round to MUCEM will have ‘animations gastronomique’ plus music. Near MUCEM itself, there will be 13 societies offering rides on traditional boats as well as various explanatory sessions.  I do hope the forecast rain doesn’t turn up and spoil this weekend’s events. Here is a PDF of the official programe: http://www.mp2013.fr/evenements/2013/08/septembre-en-mer/?lang=en

Another bunch of people with their fingers crossed for good weather are the local BMXers who have an international competition at Peynier this weekend.  VANS Kill the Line attracts riders from around the world to show off their skills soaring over massive dirt jumps in the woods.  It r_picsaffiche%20ktl013%20-%20official1%20flyerhas a good, relaxed, family atmosphere – take your teens and a picnic.  We went last year and found it fascinating.  This will give you a taste of the action: http://www.redbull.com/uk/en/bike/stories/1331607898266/video-action-from-vans-kill-the-line-2012

A final two recommendations:  Local English-speaking theatre company What Larks are presenting ‘Veronica’s Room’, a thriller from Ira Levin, author of Rosemary’s Baby.  In Aix, Sunday 8th September at 18:00. Details here http://www.whatlarks.org/current.html

And talented local painter Jill Steenhuis has a new exhibition ‘Dans la Ligne d’Art de Leo Marchutz’ at the Chateau de Bouc Bel Air, from Saturday 7th Sept to Tues 26th Sept.  I love her colourful oil paintings and look forward to seeing her new work.  Here is a link to see some of her pictures http://www.artinprovence.com/jill/

I think we are spoiled for choice this weekend!

PLEASE, before going to any events on Aixcentric, double-check details on the internet.

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… 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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