Saturday, 30 July 2016

Marseille, Frioul Islands, & Montpellier

A trip to the south of France was the occasion to visit Marseille, France's second city.

Marseille Vieux Port (Old Port)

We started off by visiting the Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations, known as the MucEM. It is France's first national museum to be located outside of Paris and was inaugurated in 2013 when Marseille was designated as European Capital of Culture.

Fort Saint-Jean, built in 1660, which now houses the MUCEM

a modern part of the MuCEM, linked to the older buildings by a footbridge

another modern part of the MuCEM

Perched on a hilltop, Notre-Dame de la Garde Basilica is probably the city's best-known symbol.

Notre-Dame de la Garde Basilica, which dominates Marseille's Old Port

The inside of the basilica is very nautically themed, with model ships and planes. 

inside the Basilica

view over the Vieux Port from the Basilica; Fort Saint-Jean in the centre

Corniche Kennedy is a boulevard nearly 4km long that skirts the Mediterranean sea.

Corniche Kennedy

We spent two nights on the Frioul archipelago, a group of four islands, to go diving there. The islands are only 4km from Marseille.

Frioul islands

We stayed both nights on a (stationary) boat in the marina. Unfortunately the Mistral kept us awake with the  wind banging ropes against the mast all night!

our accommodation 

gull, Frioul islands

our dive club, Plongée Frioul

Nearby, Chateau d'If is an island former-fortress-prison that features in Alexandre Dumas' novel The Count of Monte Cristo.

Chateau d'If

After a side-trip to Corsica, we headed to Montpellier, France's eight largest city. 

Les Arceaux, Montpellier, an 18th century aqueduct
built to supply the city with water

Montpellier's Faculty of Medicine is the oldest in the world and is housed in a former bishopric next to Cathédrale Saint-Pierre.

Montpellier Faculty of Medicine

Cathédrale Saint-Pierre is a 14th-century Gothic cathedral.

cathedral main south entrance

house, old city centre of Montpellier

Porte de Peyrou, a triumphal arch built in 1693

Place de la Comédie is a square which is a focal point in the city centre. It features a fountain, the Three Graces, built by sculptor Étienne d'Antoine in 1790, and the Opéra national de Montpellier Languedoc-Roussillon is also located on the square.

at Place de la Comédie, with the Opera in the background

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Saturday, 23 July 2016


The French call Corsica the "Island of Beauty", and knowing that the island is not that far across the Mediterranean from Marseille, where people have a reputation for exaggeration, my expectations weren't necessarily sky high. I was however pleasantly surprised by what we saw, and I find the island's reputation well-deserved, even though we only saw southern Corsica.

Two days after we arrived was our wedding anniversary, and we were lucky to spend the day on board the Antika, a 14-metre long ketch that sails out of Porto Vecchio.


Sails away

The next day was spent diving at Dive Center Hippocampe. The morning's dive was at a site called 'Toro', where we saw a lot of groupers. After lunch we dived at 'Millenium' where there is a pit of barracudas!

Barracudas at Millenium dive spot
Our final full day was spent visiting inland and the far south of Corsica.


monument at Chera paying homage to Corsican resistants

mountain road

tiny hamlet

tiny church!

village of Sartène

south coast of Corsica; Sardinia on the horizon

at Bonifacio

house in Bonifacio where Napeoleon stayed from 22 Jan to 3 March 1793


interior of the Sainte Marie Majeure Church, Bonifacio

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