Looooov(re) light

Louvre ceiling angular

Still discombobulated from the cross-Atlantic time-change. Managing to fall back asleep when I awaken at appropriate France-time, yet feeling rather listless, languid, and lethargic as evening rolls around. Like now…time for another episode of Counterpart anyway.

Louvre ceiling circular

These two images are both of light-above at the Louvre, in a gallery and in a stair? connecting? area. As we took escalators from this floor to that, I distinctly thought…this is a change? I may be wrong, but I felt that there had been a major architectural upgrade to the visitor experience since we last visited.

Tower tour aka tour tour

Twobirds onetour

Enjoying the sunshine from a bench with a stupendous view, the sounds were of a light wind, a mowing crew, and crows. Here’s a crow duo. Such photographic timing!

Blossom tour

Finally, we set off, keeping an eye on the tour. Tower is tour in French.

Backlit birds tour

Aha, tower, backlit, again with birds. The iPhone goes all drama with strong backlighting.

Bride tour

From this bridge, the tower is great background. We saw four bride–photographer groups here. Same time. One group had a Mercedes limo waiting for them, parked illegally.

Isle tour

There’s a narrow island down the Seine, I assume something to do with navigation and bridge engineering…engineering, anyway. Great view upstream of the tower.

Edge tour

We crossed back to “our side” of the river…one glance back at the tower before heading into the side streets back toward “our place.”

Glass bridge

The tower isn’t the only striking architecture here. Loved the tube-mesh surrounding this hobbit-trail.


This tilework was in the arch over the main doorway of an elementary school built in 1912. I think the blue tiles (bottom) have faded and clouded with white in the intervening century.

Champs tour

Our home-bound route took us back through the Champs de Mars, so here’s one last look at THAT tower.

Beef tartare

Food pic of the day: beef tartare starter (entrée in French—yes, slightly confusing—also can be used for entrance, that is, place to enter). We had a fancy lunch out…. Total yum. Our tour helped us justify the chocolate-lava dessert, no?

In an amateur way, this post with many photos of the same subject honors Claude Monet’s Rouen Cathedral series….

We Looooov(r)ed

Louvre pyr entry

Back to the Louvre neighborhood to “do” the Louvre…that is, to browse a few galleries. There are three main sections, and we only hit parts of two. The Louvre is huge, and my poor brain can only take in so much.


Bam! First objects: caryatids. They are gigantic. And the ladies’ breasts are at armpit level and consequently look strange…from today’s display angles, maybe not when they high on a building.

Celtic guy

Called Wounded Gaul or Gauloise blessé, (the original of) this statue came from the Acropolis in Athens. It commemorated the victory of Attalus I, king of Pergamum, over Celtic warriors who threatened his territory in what is now Turkey in 200/199BC. This is a Roman copy of one figure from the lost bronze Greek statue group. Love the wild hair.


Called Aphrodite of Milos and Venus de Milo, this statue of an unknown goddess compels the eye. The aesthetics of the features and pose seem to date it to the 5th C BC; however, the elongated body and the sinuous pose are later—3rd to 1st Cs BC. So says the Louvre‘s specialists.

6th7thC Coptic fabric

This bit of Coptic fabric dates to the 6th/7th C. Always amazed when organics are preserved, so against the odds! The fibers are linen and wool.

Pyxis Islamic date picking

This carved vessel type is a pyxis; a pyxis is cylindrical, with a separate piece as a lid. The earliest are of wood (hence the shape, I assume). This one is of ivory and dates to the late 700s. It is Islamic style, and came from Spain. The figures are picking dates, and this likely symbolized the dynasty of its owner, back in the Levant. So says the Louvre’s specialists.

Hammurabi stela basalt

This scene is atop the famous basalt stela that is carved with Hammurabi’s code and dates to the 18th C BC. It portrays Hammurabi being awarded his royal insignia (aka investiture) by the solar deity Shamash. Hammurabi is holding his hands over his mouth, signaling that he is praying or honoring the deity. Most of the stela is covered almost everywhere with small symbols that are cuneiform script in Akkadian, then the dominant language in Mesopotamia (e.g., Babylonia).

Scary cat

Switching gears: scary cat!

JeanII King France about 1350

This is King John II of France, aka Jean le Bon. He lived from 1319 to 1364. The Louvre’s people note that this is “believed to be the oldest conserved example of an independent portrait since antiquity.” I guess that means in the Western world. Since he isn’t wearing a crown it probably dates to before he ascended the throne in 1350.

Louvre shopping

Okay, enough of the energy-intensive art objects! On to…see the logo to the right? Yup, on to the Apple store in the shopping area underground west of the museum.

Stuffed morels

A time jump, and we entertained! Relatives! Such fun!

I had stuffed morels, very dainty and exceedingly tasty. Thankfully, my SIL had a huge platter of coq au vin that she shared, or I would have been…well, not hungry exactly, but definitely not as sated. Of course, the dessert souffle trio would have helped fill me!

Lovely meeting up for the evening!

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.

El eterno milagro

Fort mucem wheel sea

Having seen opening times listed as 9am (Google), 10am (city website), and nothing (official webpage), we gambled that the gate to the closed-Tuesday fort might be open at 10:45am. Not. And it was overcast and windy. We took sanctuary behind one wall of the church, where the wind was more indirect. Note: no sun, windy, cold. Our destinations for touristing became the fort (beige, left) and the Mucem/MuCEM (black, central).

Fort to fort view CAS

We didn’t spend long in the fort (windy, cold), but the view was terrific—harbor entrance is below me.

Picasso costumes

An exhibition area in the fort was touted as Picasso. Turned out Picasso kinda art-decorated some theater productions, including costumes and backdrops. Kinda like “George Washington slept here.”

Mucem platelets

On to the Mucem, which is covered with this platelet web made of concrete. We went down hallways of nothing, and found a gallery labeled Roman-photo.

Roman photo love

Me, not knowing French and thinking I can sort out obvious words thought some kind of Italian whatever-art. We were there ten minutes before I figured out it means “photo novel.” This is an everyday publication type somewhere between harlequin romance and comic book, which was popular everywhere, including France, Italy, and, here, Spain.

Roman photo panel

At some point, the production involved high-end cameras, and well-known actors, from Sophia Lauren to Brad Pitt (or maybe Pitt’s face was used, but he didn’t pose, kinda like People?)

Roman photo face

The stories seem to have been heavy on human-human interactions, and adult subjects. Some were scary.

Roman photo movie

Others used character-types we’d recognize from other forms of theater.

Movie car

The exhibit included this half-car used for two-shots. Love the receding palm trees. No turns if you want to sustain the driving effect.

DeGaulle documentary

Down another hallway, we found a bunch of de Gaulle documentaries. That’s the big guy speaking. And he was tall, and had a world-class schnozz. The Guru says when he was a kid he got de Gaulle and Jimmy Durante confused.

Bull pottery Crete Greece

On a lower level, we found what seems to have been the permanent display on general Mediterranean history…accent on the people of wine, olives, and cereal agriculture. And bulls…well, more cows, I’d bet.

Jug saddle

Love this wine-jug saddle. Gotta move that product to market, no?

Ottoman Genoa something

Another gallery got into Ottoman-Genoese history. Love all the little scenarios in this painting.

Kheir ed Din Barberousse

In the museum, this guy was nicknamed Barberousse (he died in 1546). The label named him formally Kheir ed-Din. WikiPee in French calls him Khizir Khayr ad-Dîn and Khayr ad-Din. English WikiPee calls him Hayreddin Barbarossa and Barbarossa Hayreddin Pasha, and says his Turkish name was Hızır Hayreddin (Hayrettin) Paşa (among others). Easier to stick to Barberousse/Barbarossa. He was a famous pirate, navy-man, and, along with his brothers, took control of Algiers, then opted to ally with Turkey/the Ottoman empire against the threat of Spain. Confused? Yeah, it’s one of those mixed, complex stories typical of Mediterranean folk for millennia.

As we left the museum, we could feel fine precip. Wet, though, not the snow that nearby areas got today. We walked back to our neighborhood and I sampled a family restaurant’s version of marmite, the fish stew I had two days ago. No garlic-mustard or cheese, so simpler flavors. Except for the two langoustines, no shells. Same dried baguette slices. In this case the soup/broth was served separate from the bowl of mixed seafood species, except for a bit in the seafood bowl; this meant the soup stayed hotter, perfect for ladling at will into the seafood. The flavor of the soup was along the same lines, and I still don’t know exactly what it was/is.

Precip was a bit more intense as we skedaddled down to the bakery to get a quiche snack for later and pain au chocolat for tomorrow with our coffee. Tomorrow is a travel day, and we understand that today’s snow flurries/wintery mix in Aix will become rain for our visit. Oh, yay.

Closed Tuesday

N fort walkway harbor mouth

That’s the headline. As we got to the gate to the bridge to the “north fort” and also the MuCEM (pronounced museum), we saw it was closed and locked. Plan B time.

Plan B was walk down to the harbor front, then go right or north around the base of the fort on this narrow walkway, then work our way north. We started at the place we began to harbor-walk yesterday, but went the opposite direction.

Harbor entrance

We had a good view of the mouth of the harbor and a pedestrian ferry entering, along with a sailboat motoring out.

Ferry exiting

Further along, we could see a large shipping/people/vehicle ferry leaving the port headed across the Mediterranean; crossing is about 20 hours.

Wheel church mucem

We looped around the MuCEM building to a big terrace suitable for water-views; below it is a parking garage. MuCEM is short for Musée des Civilisations de l’Europe et de la Méditerranée. Yup, closed. That brought us around to a land-view through the Ferris Wheel. The MuCEM is the black building, far right.

Corsica ferry leaving

Another ferry leaving. The Corsica route also crosses to Algiers, but takes 23 hours.

Ferris wheel up

Walked under the wheel. Did not feel compelled to take a ride. Nor did many other people, although we did see two young girls dragging probably grandma and grandpa toward the ticket office. Let’s get high!

Mall old facade

Working our way north past a ferry dock and passenger and car entrance/exit, looking inland the buildings are not new, and it seems preservationists are making developers preserve the façades. This orange-ish building with the white outlined windows is one end of a large, busy mall in the gutted interior. Can’t tell that from here.

Apple store w view

We did go in a mall on the water side. Also busy, and not just people off the ferries. Went up two levels and presto, an Apple store! With a fantastic view of the Mediterranean!

Terrace view

Little cool for sitting today….

Corsica being loaded

We walked through the store and onto the terrace. The north end was near a Corsica ferry being loaded. We saw semis rolling on.

Cathedral viewSW

Headed inland and passed on the land side of the cathedral. This is the route “home.”

We’re taking it easier today, probably just fine that we didn’t make it a museum day and need to apply our brain cells to thoughtfulness. Teehee!

Harbor day

Harbor church

We went to bed early last night, thoroughly pooped. My eyes were closed by 8pm after a longlonglong travel day. We slept and slept. We finally got up just before 11am. [Have I slept that long since I was an infant?] We were thoroughly rejuvenated (no surprise!), especially after the pot of coffee the Guru made…coffee and milk thoughtfully stocked in our apartment!

We set off to explore the harbor. Marseille’s harbor is a rectangular U with the opening to the west. We live in the old town, on the north side. There’s a fort on each side of the harbor opening. This photo is from the north fort toward the south fort. Also, the southern skyline is dominated by the Basilique Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde, high on a rocky outcrop. Although it looks older, it was built in the late mid-1800s. If you get closer or have a big lens, you can see the glinting, gilded statue of the Virgin atop the belltower.

Nets cart

Down at the harbor, you can see that what was once a working harbor used by fisherman, traders, and pirates navies, there’s still a bit of evidence of fishing, but mostly the harbor is full of moored pleasure boats, both sailing and motoring.

Work station

I was quite interested in these boat supports/jacks, for the endlessly necessary work on hull cleaning and maintenance.

Dock locks

The many docks radiating out from the wide apron around the water are all protected by gates; this one even had barbed wire. As near as we could tell, each dock was controlled by a different group, usually named a Society of Somethingorother.

Phone checking

Tourists did the usual lots of phone checking, pictures, music, whatever….

Tourists photoing

Oddly, I noticed no selfie-sticks. Wha? Bring a friend instead?

Reflective roof

The base of the U has an artistic high reflective…roof(?), creating probably highly appreciated shade in the summer heat. Today, not so much. Note winter coats.


We took the obligatory close-up shots. Here’s a fine one showing complex anchor engineering.

Mast reflections

We also took, uhem, I took many mast-reflection shots. Here’s only one, Lucky You.

N fort

We finally got around to the south end of the U, and looked back across the harbor mouth at the northern harbor-protecting fort.

Fishermans stew

Along the way, we stopped for a big seafood lunch. Big. Mine was a bowl of mixed species. I could not identify the flavors in the broth, quite tasty, but I’m pretty sure it was thickened with bread crumbs. It was served with a small bowl of grated hard cheese, and a small bowl of mustard with garlic and I don’t know what else. I wasn’t sure what to do with them, so after I’d gotten some of the shells out of the way (mmmmm), I stirred them both in. The broth was good both before and after the additions.

The Guru had moules frites, which is mussels with a side of fries. The mussels had marsala (pretty sure) and garlic (definitely) in the steaming/boiling liquid/broth; also yummmmm.

Narrow streets

After our lovely, sun-drenched walking tour of the harbor (we missed the cross-harbor pedestrian ferry (1€ for two people), and so walked around the east end of the harbor, then cut north and west finally getting into the narrow streets of our neighborhood. There’s plenty of elevation change, and some sections are all steps.

We had such fun, and took hundreds of photos; I only include the merest sample, chosen to include the highlights—boats, buildings, sunlight. Also, see the moon!? Time to head to the bakery for some take-home quiche for tonight and pain au chocolat for breakfast. Our world is pretty darned fine.

Kitchen window barbie

Oops. I almost forgot to add that out our kitchen window I can see this headless Barbie on the tile roof across the street. Abandoned art, or art by abandonment?

Only four photos, so as not to bore

Morning sun beach

We spent the day on and (mostly) near the beach. We got out early to enjoy that low-angle light, and it’s a good thing—already almost HOT by 8:30 am!

Strange dune flowers

Circling in the car behind the dunes traveling from one place to another, we found these large bloom clusters; I have no idea what they are.

Bamboo shadows

Late in the day, we found this lovely juxtaposition of light and shadow, shapes and colors.


On a late-day beach wander, we found this sea-denizen, or its fading carcass. Such striking, amazing colors!

Covered some ground

Concrete tunnel

The title is apt for our day; we did cover some ground. We also kinda went underground through this tunnel. I could not even read the last line of the sign “No trucks except standard height…” because, irony of ironies, truck-roofs had so damaged it that the letters have been bashed to near-oblivion.

Tunnel of trees

We also went through tunnels of trees. The green is beginning to pop. (Apologies for the insect grease.)


Then we made it to the ocean! Yay, Atlantic! Substantial marine layer for after noon…. Thanks, K!

Goodyear replaced wingfoot one

Southbound, we dodged some serious traffic, as the Day-tone-uh race (rrrrrrrr) was underway as we slipped south past it, keeping thousands of vehicles in actual parking lots and not out on the roads. Above we could see the Wingfoot One, but without the customary Goodyear name…and instead a hashtag advertising a Goodyear ad-video that will premier tomorrow.

Egret handicapped

Safely past the motor mecca, we headed for a place that advertised it’s fine view. Walking through the parking lot, we were glad we found a regular space, as apparently handicapped vehicles get special avian…attention…the kind that can damage the paint job.

Sunset diner view

Turns out the restaurant gave us seats to a terrific sunset show, and decent enough food. Won’t go back, but it was perfect for this evening.

Tired, we reached our destination. Yawn. G’night.

Gung Hei Fat Choi!

Church in Sun

Rural small towns in the Deep South: you will find churches, but not usually this large and fancy.

Wall artifacts

You will also find evidence that there used to be more buildings.

Spn moss ness

Go far enough south, and you will see Spanish moss (not a moss at all) festooning the trees, often oaks.

Pine plantation

Monocropping trends towards trees and…

Cotton bolls

…cotton (decorative sample). Also pecans and sometimes peanuts (neither pictured).

Horse hoofprints

The soils tend to be sandy, sometimes nearly white. You may see horse hoofprints.

Small town Fri night

And you know you’re in a small town when the restaurant puts the game to keep the kids occupied out in the street.

* (Chinese) Happy New Year!