Wednesday, September 11, 2013

South of France

The next stop on our holiday was the Sowf o' France.  I was originally going to book us in an beach-front apartment in Sanary-sur-Mer, but we slept on it too long and lost the place.  Silly me, I sorta figured that any of the other cities around there (read: on the Med Sea) would be the same deal.


Except for maybe La Seyne-sur-Mer, which is like a busted out seaside town with a--comment dites-on...  poubelle blanche boardwalk and an abundance of crappy touristy food.  (Touristy food is crepes upon crepes outside of Bretagne and mojitos, if you must know.)  I couldn't believe it!  We'd found the Jersey Shore of France!  Come night, the boardwalk went off... there were shitty cover bands, tethered trampoline bouncy things, and grannies line-dancing (yes, the French do it, too!) in denim shortie skirts!  What?!  Our budget hotel was clean, but more like a bunker (concrete floors, no a/c) than a respite from the rest of La Seyne.  And it was filled with mosquitos that managed to zip-zip-zip-buzz right in your ears every single second that they weren't biting you.  Those were two sweaty and sleepless nights in all of the wrong ways.  ARGH.

The second day in La Seyne-sur-Mer, we wandered more and found an old fort and plenty of historical but busted out buildings--with nary a person to be seen.  There were times on our walk that I felt a little frightened... in this random Mediterranean beach town.  Who is breaking these windows and tagging these buildings if there is no one around??  Creepy.  Thankfully, the buses were running so we got a ride back into the part of town yet to be abandoned.  Lucky for us, the bus dropped us off in a spot that led us to stroll past the trashy boardwalk, leading us to a part of the beach that was much more our speed.  Beachfront restos with interesting menus, parasol and beach chair rentals (haha, I requested a parapluie at first...), and drinks delivered right to your spot on the sand.  THIS was all we were looking for from the start!  What's wrong with all of those losers stuck on the crappy part of the boardwalk?!

We had already arranged to check out of the hotel a day early (heading for the bright lights of Marseille), so we made the most of our last afternoon in La Seyne with some napping and dipping in the Mediterranean.  I am not an ocean lover (I'm barely an ocean liker, honestly), but something came over me.  I waded right out there into the clean and warm Mer Méditerrané.  There was nothing icky or skeevy or fishy about it.  And just like that, La Seyne-sur-Mer was forgiven.  But after I'd already bashed it on Facebook.  Oh well.

Evidence of mosquito attacks.  This might be the only photograph I have of La Seyne. 

As you can imagine, we liked Marseille from the get-go.  It reminded me of Istanbul a bit, with the ancient buildings scattered about and the wonderful views of the city.  We ate lunch at La Boite a Sardine, where B got the Marseille fish and chips shown here.

Though it was pretty deadsville due to les vacances, Marseille's vibrant side showed through in its graffiti.  Love love love a city with good graf!

Favorite, of course.

Quick was featuring the Menu Homer.  My only qualm is that the bun should be a real donut not just a donut-shaped bun.  Amiright?

After the bunker in La Seyne, we splurged a bit and took a boutique hotel right on the old port in Marseille.  This was the view from our (air conditioned) room.

Another view from Marseille, just before one of their famous thunderstorms.  We were stuck in the Abbey of St. Victor for the dramatic debut of the storm.  If you ever see a storm approaching and there's an ancient church nearby, get yourself over there because the combination is divine.

From the crypt of St. Victor: who knew the Gauls were so baller?!  Check out them dollah signs, yo!