Leaving St Tropez and the glitter of the Cote-d’Azur behind we puffed on south bound for Marseille. From a little distance the coast does not seem impressive, but we knew we were passing some very special places like Les d’Heurs. We stayed overnight in Saint-Mandrier-sur-Mer (near Toulon), which was not very special at all – the Toulon basin is a marine base and the rusting corpses of marine vessels anchored within the basin is not an inviting sight.
The next morning we made an early departure and sailed off-and-on, the wind direction too high for us to fully make use of it. Later in the day, passing the impressive rocks and scenery along the Parc national des Calanques, we considered anchoring in one of the ‘calanques’. However, we did not quite have the will or spirit to inflate the dinghy, launch it – as it is required to go ashore – and secure mooring by anchor and tying off to shore.
Instead we headed up along the coast and arrived to the impressive view of Marseilles just before sunset with 20-25 kts of wind and doing 8+ kts. We kept sailing to the very entrance of the city centre harbour, taking down the main and genoa as we reached Pharo.
We had attempted to reserve a space the day before over phone, but the guy being French, spoke no english. Apparently Andreas’ French skills is not completely mature yet. As we entered the shelter of the harbour we realised there were no marineros to show us to a berth and more than handful of different marinas, all of which seemed to be full – and closed for the evening. We finally found a spot at Viuex port with some help from a helpful sailor and literally squeezed in backwards.
Heading to shore looking for a place to have dinner somewhat late, we decided to go with a somewhat pricy option – Les Arcenaulx. We were not disappointed! Rossana had a pasta of seafood and Andreas had Filet de baeuf “Rossini” (230gr)
with foie gras and truffle sauce – divine experience with excellent french wines.
The next day we explored the city centre, which by the way surrounds the harbour. Being on a boat in Marseille gives you very easy access to the city. The downside is that there is very little space available in the harbour and we met one resident who regularly had to move his boat around on a biweekly basis.
Along the harbour we found a very nice printing and framing store where we had some photos printed and framed in order to decorate our saloon.
We walked around the bohemian quarters, the Fort Saint-Jean, Mucem and the Cathédrale and found the atmosphere quite pleasant. Although we did not see all the sights and areas, we thoroughly enjoyed our visit and appreciated the fact that we were staying right in the centre of town.
Unfortunately, due to yet another regatta, we had to vacate our berth and headed on towards Spain and Barcelona… crossing the Golfe du Lion in gale winds.