I’m offering two photos of each city we visited….

Marseille step lane

We might even call this Memory Lane, Marseille.

Marseille rudder view

Rudder view, dry dock boat, old harbor.

Aix side door

On to Aix…love the shadows on the wall to the right, especially in contrast to those angled ones on the door wall.

Aix shopping tease

The shop attendees do step out onto the street when no one’s inside…but not to hail passersby, usually, instead to smoke. Love the rocks holding the racks and the shoeless manikins.

Avignon narrow street

And in Avignon…narrow streets, some construction, often high crowns (suggests rain can gush here).

Avignon courtyard

And sometimes a courtyard peek…usually no longer gardens, but turned into parking. The fountain at the back was preserved…and appears lonely with only a few companion woody plants.

Paris Seine scene

Paris…Paris is always Seine-side to me.

Paris tourist impulse buys

A shopkeeper believes this assortment will entice the many tourists streaming by headed to Montmartre. Why all the hard-sided luggage? Do the vendors push some cheap knockoffs? Who buys a suitcase to trundle around while sight-seeing? Someone must…makes no sense to me. Postcards and miniature Eiffel Towers, yes, but carry-on roller bags?

Marseille marmite sides

Okay, one food picture just like during the trip. This is the marmite (say mahr-meet), or seafood stew, that I had in Marseille. Served with dry bread to soak up the juices. And, here, also with grated hard cheese and sweetened mustard. I didn’t know about this stew before the trip, and now I do.

This is one reason to travel—learning something that becomes a reason to return. I had thought I would find Marseille gritty and off-putting. Perhaps before the harbor was turned into a tourist haven, when it was still fisherman and mariners, with smells of oil and fish and dirty sea-water, I would have struggled to find the charming. No longer. Am I a pushover?

Metro visits, more

Gare Nord fixup

Today’s moving day.

We packed up and took the train to the Gare du Nord, and found workmen busy pouring concrete (rear). We left our luggage in a locker, and took off for a half-day of sight-seeing.

Balloonists cathedral

We found balloonists eyeing the Basilique du Sacré Cœur de Montmartre. Is that what gave us the inspiration to ascend on foot?

Sacre bride

Most of the way up, we found our bride of the day. We saw the couple giggle together while the photographer was barking commands…seemed like a good omen for them.

Stpierre chapel left

We walked around to the far less visited l’église Saint-Pierre, consecrated over 870 years (or, 87 decades) ago in 1147.

Notredame foot snake

This church is where, among other things, folks honor Notre-Dame de Montmartre. She likes her snakes, I’m thinking, especially with fresh flowers.

Artist setting up Place du Tertre

We toured through Place du Tertre, and watched arriving artists setting up, aware, I guess, of coming sunshine/good weather.

Veg shrouded apt

Working our way down, we had a couple of vegetation moments. I’d rent this place!

Vinyard daffies

I vaguely knew there was a vineyard on Montmartre, but didn’t anticipate seeing it. Yay! With bonus daffodils!

Lapin Agile

The Lapin Agile has many reasons for being a phrase rattling in your brain (e.g., Montmartre painters, Steve Martin play…)…and a much longer WikiPee page in French than in English.

Shitake soup

Continuing our descent, we stopped for a bite at an old-timey (sorta) bistro. This was my shiitake soup with fresh Malabar pepper and chopped chives. I would never make it with this much pepper, but it was nuanced in flavor—and…interesting (why we eat at restaurants, no?).


Our return route to the Gare du Nord passed opposite the Louxor, Luxor in English—because we don’t have the same linguistic need for extra letters? Interesting architectural details, yet oddly streamlined.

Metro equation

Found a series of equations on the walls of the station section (below where we arrived) where we waited for our airport train. I think this one is something about tickets, but am too brain-dead to figure it out.

Destinations diverse

Flights listed at CGD Terminal 2. There‘s a real assortment of destinations!

Airport view

And as the sun was setting, we saw this brilliant reflection from our window…. We have an early call tomorrow to make our shuttle back to the airport…so, nighty-night.

Flower day

Tram inside

We took the Metro underground and made a connection to an above-ground tram, which meant we had a view! We rode oh-so-quietly along the Seine downstream, picked a station to hop off, and headed toward the Bois de Boulogne—a huge park that once was a hunting preserve outside the city, much like Windsor was to London. In 1783, this was where the first Montgolfier hot-air balloon was flown untethered. In 1814, after Napoleon’s defeat, abdication, and exile to Alba, 40K British and American troops camped here, cutting down trees and otherwise intensively occupying the landscape, leaving it quite ravaged. The park was created in the 1850s. The builders installed an extensive irrigation system with pipes going everywhere. Crews planted lawns, meadows, and 420K trees (says Wikipee).


We encountered this sign above a restaurant not far from the trolley station. I thought that’s not the kind of place I want to eat…rather have the not-bones part of the fish….

Seine downstream

We crossed the Seine safely on a vehicle-busy bridge, then continued downstream.

Rehab building

We passed this building undergoing rehab, slowly. Interesting architectural details.

Fleur jaune

Here, outside the paving stones and micro-mananged enviroment on the old city, I found wildflowers! Fleur jaune.

Dunno blue

Tiny fleur bleu.

Nibbled violet

Fleur mauve.

Partial moat

We left the Bois and passed over this almost-moat and into a garden—jardin.

Conservatory jardin

The main part was a large central conservatory (the palm house, natch), and six flanking arch-topped greenhouses in two trios.

Fleur rouge

Fleurs rouge.

Fleurs blancs

Fleurs blancs.

Fleurs jaunes

Fleurs jaunes.

Jean Moréas

Then, we turned back toward the apartment. First, we passed through a poets’ corner…this is Jean Moréas (1856–1910), who was born to an Athens family and originally named Ioannis A. Papadiamantopoulos. He came to Paris to study law. I think of him as Mr. Moustache.

Champignons de Paris

Back in our neighborhood, we made a quick store stop (milk for coffee!), and I found this carefully packed box of white button mushrooms (champignons de Paris), stunningly aesthetic and appealing.

Quiche foursome

Okay, food pick—tonight’s quiche foursome. Plus salad.

Tourism with Sunday crowds

Cops busy at arc

Our first stop of the day (other than the shower haha)…. This is a massive structure. It dwarfs the arches we saw in/by the Roman forum. Cops are earning their salary today…?!

Perpetual flame Arc

Beneath the arch is a perpetual flame honoring war dead (WWI). There’s a large brass plaque set in the pavement with the dates for each war. Oddly moving, even with the crowds burbling by, mostly inattentive to the flame, instead focused on where to line up to ascend to the top of the monument (€12; it’s free to do what we did, although it isn’t clear that you don’t have to pay the big €€€€ merely to walk around).

Duck salad lunch

Stopped for lunch at a bistro most of the way down the Champs-Élysées, and it is downhill toward the river…. I had the salade de magret de canard, with green beans, onions, tomato slices, and roasted potatoes. Tasty but not exceptional…what I hoped for.

DeGaulle statue

Didn’t expect this statue of Général Charles De Gaulle. A general-sculpture with no horse.

Concorde wheel

We’d been seeing this wheel since the Triomphe. It’s next to the huge oval traffic “circle,” at the Place de la Concorde. During the Revolution, many royals/nobles were executed here, when it was surrounded by an octagonal moat. The dead included Queen Marie Antoinette and Madame Du Barry, and over a thousand more.

Tuilleries crowds

A few more steps, and we entered the Jardin des Tuileries. I love that the park has many unmoored chairs, which people move around to suit themselves. Look at the crowds!

Throwing bowling game

We found three sets of people playing this game. We didn’t watch terribly long, but it seems that the player throws the baton in such a way that it knocks down one of the pegs and tosses it forward. The player then walks out and stands up the peg in its new, more distant location. In our short period of voyeurism, we could not tell anything else about the game and its strategy.

Tree statue

This is a dead-tree statue by Giuseppe Penone (b. 1947), and is called “L’Arbres des Voyelles” (1999), or the tree of the vowels. Apparently, the “vowels” are five oak trees planted among the upper branches. Can you see a delicate bunch of purple crocuses off the right-most root?

Other arc

We saw another arch as we approached the Louvre. This one has fancier decorative elements (more gilding) than the Triomphe, and is much smaller. Can you see the glass pyramid through the right arch?

Toutes Moto front

Our bus stop was off to the right. We got into position to wait for a bus, and started watching the oncoming traffic. Most of the buses were for sight-seeing, often with an open upper seating level. Then, we heard motorcycle cops with sirens whooping…several of them…wha? Quickly, we realized that they were the vanguard of a procession.

We were witness to the Toutes en Moto parade—mostly (all?) women on motorcycles and scooters. The lead van stopped right in front of us, and the DJ played a song, then two women ascended and one made a speech. Rousing, I thought, even though I only caught a few nouns…. Then, the riders put out their cigs, put away their selfie-phones, and climbed back on their two-wheelers. Rrrrr-rrrr, and away they went.

Toutes Moto back

This was the final vehicle, and traffic began flowing again. And we noticed that no buses would be stopping at our stop…due to the parade, we assume, so we walked on across the river to where we assumed the detoured route would be.

Bus along Seine

Found the bus! Saving the feet!

Camembert snack

A quick stop at the bakery at the south end of our street (there’s one at each end! Lucky us!), and we ascended to the apartment…and a Camembert snack! Yum.

And wine! Salud!

Water-centric exploring

Ecole militaire

Kinda drippy, so we drank coffee and pondered the universe, leaving just before the drippiness was predicted to end at noon. The large building on the left is the main building of the École Militaire complex, a military school for training officers, founded in 1750. Thought it appropriate that two Jeeps awaited a green for their left turns….

M ecole militaire

École Militaire is also a Metro station, one of those close to our habitation.

Bastille monument

We took a train (no changes!) to the Bastille station, about a half-hour ride. When we emerged from the earth, the weather slowly clearing. This is the monument in the Place de la Bastille. Of course, the famous prison is long gone. It initially was built mostly in the late 1300s as a fort to reinforce the east side of Paris and to protect the adjacent city gate, Porte Saint-Antoine, with its drawbridges; the building was modified over subsequent centuries. Within decades, the fortress was sometimes used to hold prisoners; by the mid-1400s, it was the state prison used by the king, who also hosted dignitaries there—a multifunction complex…. Anyway, that’s an older version of the prison that became the symbol for the revolution in July 1789. By November of that year, the prison was mostly destroyed. By 1792, the area was a square honoring liberty, with a central fountain added in 1793.

The name bastille is probably rooted in bastide, a medieval term for a fortress. I don’t know if the term was attached to this fortress from the beginning, or the name came later….


Part of the ditch that fortified the Bastille is now the Bassin de l’Arsenal, mostly used by houseboats—some quite commodious. It was a commercial port until 1983. That boat on the left is named Ypie, I’m thinking the pronunciation is yippee.

Fleurs jaunes

We followed the lock (écluse) to the Seine and turned downstream toward the famous islands. This was in the upstream park on Île Saint-Louis. Pretty!

Omelette pork shank

At the other end of the island, we lunched at a brasserie we’ve visited several times before. We discovered it was unusually jammed by many tables of rugby fans, in Paris for the national playoff (I think). Rah!

The Guru had a ham and cheese omelette with fries; I had a pork shank, roasted with homemade applesauce. I took a gamble on my dish, not even looking up jarret de port grillé before ordering. Sometimes you have to live on the wild side (even if it’s a limited wild side).

Our lady back

After escaping the sweat-inducing heat of the dining room, we headed on to the Île de la Cité, arriving on the “back side” of the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris. The building was once painted, and not the stained browns it is now; I have no idea what colors/patterns. I wonder if it’d be safe to assume that most of the exterior was in the cheapest colors; some paint pigments (pigments de peinture) were quite dear in older times.

Ladys stubby towers

We crossed a bridge and began to work our way along the south bank, periodically looking back at the stubby towers of the cathedral. Even stubby, they’re pretty darned tall! By the way, the cathedral’s bells (cloches) are named—mostly with male names, but not exclusively.

Car in motion

Many boats (bateaux) passing by, many large and packed with tourists either on a tour or using them as a taxi between places of interest. This one was an unusual cargo vessel, even transporting a car.

Bridge photog

This is the third gal we’ve seen in bridal gear being photographed (bride is mariée). She looks quite happy. Behind the photo crew were several women in jewel colored gowns—emerald, royal blue—and one in black. I assume they were the bride’s attendants.

Moss moment

I got out the macro lens and looked at mosses that have taken up residence on the railing above the river next to the sidewalk. They are slowly breaking down the stone/concrete. Moss is mousse, which is also the word for foam on top of a latte (latté).

Pain bio

We made quick groc-shopping stops just before heading in for the night (tired feet! happy tourists!). This was in the window of the bakery…pain bio means organic bread.

Upward views, but not only upward

Peeking garden

We set off for the southeast quadrant of the city—inside the walls, of course. Somewhere central to the old city, I found this gnarly garden peeking over the second-story wall. Wonder how mossy it is inside.

Looming belltower

A bit farther, we found this looming belltower, with the “teeth” detail on the spire. If I were a better historic preservationist, I would know the real name for those zipper-teeth features.

Penitents gris

We finally reached the street of the dyers, which has a creek running alongside it. This chapel has its own footbridge for worshippers to cross into it.

Dyers waterwheel

They have left a few waterwheels intact in the creek, and they slowly turn turn turn. In the walls, we could see the sockets for the axles of missing ones. Not sure what the waterwheel power was used for; the adjacent buildings are mostly residences, with a few converted(?) into offices. Nothing looks like the workplace of dyers.

Dyers street restaurant

We lunched at the restaurant under the curved awning around the curve in the rear-ground.

Vege lunch

I had the veg lunch: hot leek puree soup, a quiche of onion with sweet potato chunks on top, and a salad with assorted veg, including raw bicolor beets.

Silver tree

From there, we went to the south city wall, crossed outside briefly, then made our way north, toward the river, staying east of the ex-pope-complex.

Outside wall river edge

We crossed outside the wall, and managed to dash across several lanes of traffic (when the traffic wasn’t there), to walk along the river. I wondered how close the water was to the city walls in medieval times.

Bridge to nowhere

We wandered west along the water, saw a free pedestrian ferry that crosses to the island, back and forth. It doesn’t look like an island because it’s a big one. We watched the ferry get caught in the swift current, and maneuver against the river’s force.

One of the tourist spots of Avignon is this bridge stub, originally built between 1177 and 1185. It was the downstream-most bridge of the river, and I imagine toll collection was a fierce business. The bridge was destroyed and rebuilt in the 1200s, and these arches are often dated to the 1340s. The bridge was abandoned in the mid-1600s. The bridge went across the island and a second branch of the Rhône, so it was much longer than it looks here. [Note dandelions flourishing in the lawn.]

Wallport up

We crossed back through the wall, re-entering the old city. As near as I can tell, nowhere along the wall can tourists access the top. The walls seem narrow, but high. Now, anyway.

Seabass dinner

We took a break, then went out for a hot meal. This is my plate, sea bream with assorted veg, including yellow potatoes, purple potatoes, roasted tomatoes orange and red, roasted sweet orange pepper, fresh pea shoots and alfalfa sprouts, with a bit of tasty gravy and fresh bread.

I’ve been craving veg, and I got them today!

Moving day

Leaving bus station

We packed and cleaned up, then left our temporary home, and walked to the regional bus station. No problem getting a ticket, and not a long wait for our (fast) bus—great!

Rocky view

For us, the bus ride was an urban escape. We saw geological formations.

Farm view

We saw row crops and farm buildings

Grapeview view

We saw grape vines. (Duh. France.)

River view

We spotted a rail bridge crossing a river.

City wall

And when we spotted familiar city walls, we knew we’d reached Avignon. When we were here before, we never entered the walls. That’s why Avignon is on our itinerary.

Carousel broncos

Making our way north from the bus station, we found carousel broncos…two stories!

Roast chicken veg

We checked in our new housing, and found out our space is multi-level. We enter at street level, go down about a half story, enter our quarters (well, the zone we inhabit), then up one level to the living room/kitchen, up an additional half-level to the bathroom and toilet off the landing (large shower; claw-foot tub), and up another half-level to the generous bedroom/private sitting room. The main rooms look out onto the owner’s private garden, so lovely, although many of his potted plants got zapped by the cold temps a week ago. He has ancient pittosporums, if I understood him correctly. Something for me to look up!

Our next stop: food—a hot lunch. This is the Guru’s roast chicken and veg and mashed.

Busy gardeners

Off exploring we went up and up, to an elevated garden between the pope buildings and the water. Apparently it is above a huge cistern that supplied the city’s water at one time. We found gardeners busy.

Island view

We also found excellent views of the city, and beyond. The river splits upstream of Avignon. This landform is an island…look carefully in the background, center for the other branch of the river. Downstream—and the Mediterranean—is to the left.

Archives palais

Later, we were out and about again, and the late-day sun lit up the archives (left third) and papal palace (center and right).

We feel like we have a sense of the flavor of the city from today’s brief explorations, leaving plenty to investigate over the next two days! For now, rest!

In, below, and near streets

Boaring mouth

…trust I won’t be boaring boring today.

Dog painting

Flat dogs only?

Brass lion fountain

Fountain of the brass lions.

Bicycle parking typical

Typical bicycle parking.

Bicycle parking

Atypical bicycle parking.

Street activities

Street activities and overcast over clock tower.

Below street archaeology

Below street activities aka archaeologists in trenches.

Church dome

Church dome.

Bread of life

Bread of life pitch.

Salad simple

Simple salad side, came with my moussaka.

Aix routes

Many of our paths in old Aix. Wiggles and irregularities mostly due to narrowness of streets combined with height of buildings.

Sunday stroll

Blooming shrub

Not much vegetation other than trees and weeds…but we did find this blooming shrub…apple relative?

Not a leaf

Around the corner, a nice web of vines, leafless, and a juniper(?).

Book market

Found a book market, with a few browsers and very little selling/buying.

Lion face

Strange look on the lion’s face…winsome?

Split shutters

Interesting split shutters, I theorized to keep the line of sight from below into the room truncated.

Dangling outside pediment

Love the dangling foot outside this pediment…don’t know the story being told. She’s got a crown with a castle atop it and he’s dumping out the wine(?) jug…perhaps harvest symbolism in wheat, sunrays, and veggie pile.

Geometric lock

Never seen a lock like this….

Burger night

Today’s hood-photo: burger night for the Guru. Burger in elegant bun with pink mayo sauce, fries, wine, and a side of salmon-avocado sushi. Of course.

Street adventures

Wet street

Rainy early, so we got going late—no reason not to! As the skies cleared and the streets were still wet, we headed out for a wander, with no other destination than a meal when we became hungry.

Sun shadow street

Soon, the sun gave us light and shadow art.

Sun shadow plaza

And on a plaza, too.

Note the plane (sycamore-ish) trees…detest the severe pruning that makes them all knotty and knobbly.

Sunny Medieval wall

We stumbled into this curving section of what is billed as a stretch of the medieval wall—the inside was to the right.

Tower SE

And, just down the way, this wall and tower, which must be from a later wall that enclosed a bit more real estate.

Note plane tree far right….

Veg display

A street veg display. Most species are from France.

Felix Roux

And, on that same corner, a lovely old sign above…. Your chemiserie destination.

Bollard wait

Under the sign a mini-minibus waits for the bollard to descend and permit passage.

Bollard down

In the next block, a pawn-bollard was down. Love the paving-stone pattern.

Face fountain

The face fountain…I only gave you a face yesterday.

More plane trees….

Clock tower man

On the other side of the same square, a human figure behind a pigeon screen, below a day-of-the-month device that’s way off.

Stuffed chicken breast roll

Lunch break! This is my chicken breast stuffed with crayfish, sides of mashed potatoes and poêlée de champignons—which turns out to be fried/sauteed mushrooms. Yum. And a wine from this area, from a town a mere 17km from central Aix.

Archaeology en place

Full, we wandered apartment-ward, passing by this plaza undergoing rebuilding…in the process revealing the bases of old walls/foundations…apparently of the palace of the town’s count. Didn’t catch the date—17th, maybe 18th century?

Nice night

After a siesta-like downtime, we headed back out to see the city under lights. Nice night!

Condemned plane tree

Discovered that some plane trees are afflicted with a fungus tree types call canker (chancre coloré here), and soon will be cut down. That is a big problem in this town of many, but not exclusively, plane trees.