Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Martigues, the "Venice of Provence"

Today we decided to take the train to Martigues, which is 44 minutes away from Marseille to the West. We had some train certificates left over that needed to be used, and the website for Martigues looked great! They said it was the "Venice of Provence" with it's canals running through the city.

The train going to Martigues went along the Cote Bleue line, which was right next to the sea. I wish the pictures I took on the train were better, but the windows were rather dirty.

We saw so many cute towns along the sea, and noted some places we want to check out when we return to France. The train ride was excellent simply for the views of the Med.

We arrived in Martigues, and asked someone if it was possible to walk into the town center from the train station. The girl said yes, and it was about 15 min to walk it. So we figured, why wait and pay for the bus if we can just walk along the canal to the town. WRONG! First, there were no sidewalks along the interstate like road. Second, we had no idea which way to go. We walked a ways down the road to figure out that walking was not going to be safe since we were basically walking along the road. We turned around and made it back to the train station bus stop just in time to get on the bus going into town. Once on the bus, we realized there would have been no way to walk to town. That local girl was crazy!

We hopped off the bus and started walking around the town. Our first impression was "we came all the way for this?" The town was cute enough, but not "Venice". We tried to cross the canal and got stuck on the draw bridge as it was coming up to let boats through. We waited, and then went over to the other side, which was nicer looking. The town was clean and colorful, and right on the beurre de etang (a very large lake connected to the Med by the canal). There was one spot that was Venice-like but other than that, didn't see the comparison. The Office du Tourisme was quite a walk away from the town center, so we gave up on going to it. There was a windmill up on the hill, but it was quite a hike, and I wasn't wearing hiking shoes. We spent a good couple of hours looking around, but other than that, there was nothing to do in the town. It was worth checking out, but not a place you would want to spend an entire day in.

We thought about hopping the train and going back to one of the sea towns we had passed before heading back to Marseille, but there was only one train back to Marseille for the day. Something was stopping trains heading in one direction, and causing issues, so we were lucky we got back to the train station when we did, or we would not have made it back to Marseille!

Once in Marseille, we stopped at a Tunisian bakery to pick up some goodies. Chris has wanted to buy Tunisian goodies since we moved here, and figured he better do it before we leave.

Afterwards, we went over to the mall to pick up a few food items and to check out the sporting goods store to see if we could find some swim masks. They were having a deal on the swim mask/snorkel sets and the water shoes, so we grabbed two of each and got into line.

When we were checking out, the sales girl told us that it was buy 2 get one free for the mask/snorkel and the water shoes. We told her it was only the two of us and we didn't need another set. She thought we didn't understand her, so she brought her manager over to explain in English the sale. Chris told her he understood, but we just didn't need extras. A lady behind us said she would take the free set, and so we said sure, why not. Chris took her to the back to get another mask/snorkel and water shoes, and we gave her the free equipment. It really made her day, and we were happy to do something nice for someone else.

We can't wait to go back to Frioul and use our new gear!

Pictures of the day are HERE

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