Toulon, Aix-en-Provence, and Marseille

The first port was Toulon, France. Most of the time Jerry and I will arrange our own tours; but, for this stop, we decided to take the ship’s excursion to Aix-en-Provence and Marseille. It was probably just as well as the weather decided not to cooperate that day. We piled into the tour bus and headed for Aix-en-Provence.

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Upon arrival in Aix, the walking tour started along the Cours Mirabeau, a pedestrian avenue that separates the old town and a residential neighborhood for the wealthy. At the bottom of the Cours Mirabeau, is La Rotonde, an ornate fountain built in 1860.

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A short walk up the Cours from this fountain is the fountain of Saint Lazarus or the Fountain of the Nine Cannons. This fountain was built on the site of a spring where livestock were brought to drink during their migration from spring to winter pastures.


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And, a little further up is the Fontaine Moussue, a hot-water fountain dating back to 1734.

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From there, the tour veered off into the old part of town and headed toward the Cathedral of Saint Sauveur.

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We passed a little farmer’s market.

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And then, the former Corn Exchange (now a post office and library). The male and female figures in the elaborate pediment represent the Rhone and Durance Rivers, respectively.

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Artist Paul Cezanne was born in Aix-en-Provence and spent most of his life there. These markers can be seen in the pavement around the city. I believe they are part of a DIY walking tour, “In the Footsteps of Cezanne.”

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The Cathedral of Saint Sauveur was built on top of a Roman forum. It has been built and re-built over the centuries and features Romanesque, Gothic, and Neo-Gothic elements.

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The star of the show in the Cathedral is “The Burning Bush” triptych, a 15th century painting by Nicolas Froment.

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After a quick tour of the Cathedral, we had about an hour of free time to wander around Aix. I love the elaborate doors on the older buildings. The craftsmanship and pride is evident in a lot of the older buildings, not just in Aix, but in all of the cities we visited.

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A little sidewalk café on one of the street corners.

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We ate a small lunch at a café and Jerry got a croissant. He wanted to see if they tasted any better in France. I don’t know if it’s where we ate, or in general; but I don’t think it tasted any different than what he is used to here in the U.S. (Honestly, I think he was a little disappointed.) After lunch, our free time was just about up, so we headed back to the meeting point for our trip to Marseille.

Once in Marseille, we drove past the Old Port.

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And then continued on to the Notre Dame de la Garde, a basilica built above the town in a spot used in the past as a lookout point. The Basilica was built in the mid 1800s in the Romanesque-Byzantine style.

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Mosaic pattern on the floor of the Basilica.

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In the crypt:

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Where is the knight in shining armor?

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From the observation deck of the Basilica, we could see the Chateau d’If, the fortress/prison made famous by Alexandre Dumas’ novel, “The Count of Monte Cristo.”

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From there, we headed back to Toulon and the ship to put our feet up and relax.

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