Friday, January 09, 2015

Island Hopping in Marseille, France

Woohoooo!!! such a beautiful day for island hopping :))))
The port at Marseille is so stunning with yachts and boats all steadily berthed here, sheltered from the Mediterranean sea. The water here is rather calm.

and we hopped into this ferry service to visit a famous legendary fortress - Chateau d'if. As usual Mr. JS will have surprises each day when Monkey reads out the itinerary at breakfast.

JS: "We are goin island hopping today????"
I don't know if he sounded excited or disappointed for he's not a beach nor island kinda person.

"It's a fortress in the middle of the sea."
JS then got excited "Just like Gunkanjima??"
*click here to read bout our visit to the the haunted Gunkanjima Island in Nagasaki*

Monkey -_-"
JS :)))))))))) x 1000000

Anyway Gunkanjima isn't a fortress, it was a coal mine while Chateau d'if is really a fortress. So that's a huge difference. Fortress won't have a "good" living condition.

I got so so so tanned while in Marseille. But I lurve this how do I maintain this tan back in Msia? The sun in southern France is just so lovely. Oh well minus the UV rays.

The black square building is MUCEM

Museum of European and Mediterranean civilisation, which was connected to Fort St. Jean. Opened quite recently in 2013, the very same year when Marseille was declared the European Capital of culture.

Marseille has its very own culture and so so different from other parts of France. As the port of entry into France from North Africa and the Mediterranean, the mixture of people, culture, religion is rather interesting here. Hence the cuisine and architecture is pretty unique too.

Visiting Marseille is like travelling to another country, unlike France :)))) We were told to be careful and cautious while in Marseille, but frankly speaking, we had a very pleasant and memorable experience. In fact one of the best ones in terms of sights, food and culture. It's rather heart breaking how people classified safety and precautions according to skin colors and religions. No doubt 20% of its population are muslims, but that doesn't make all of them are terrorists.

We had taxi drivers from Morocco to helpers from Tunisia, waitress from Algeria and Turkey. Marseille also has one of the largest Italian immigrants. So u could just imagine all these beautiful people with different background and religions sharing the same home in the South of France.

Our ferry cruised its way steadily outta the bay and port area and increased its speed. Apparently there's a restricted speed limit while inside the port, doesn't matter wat kind of boats you are steering.

Chateau d'if is just 3.5km away from mainland...and very soon, we have to disembark. The water in Marseille is perpetually turquoise. Makes u wanna jump into the warm sea all the time. That's the beauty of being in Mediterranean, it's never too cold.

oh that just reminded me of Cyprus which I missed so so so much :)))))))

*pic taken from the web*
this is how it looked like....a fortress built on a rock

so our ferry dropped us at this lil rock island, picked up some passengers who looked like they were in a hurry....and sped off.

Chill guys, I don't think this is a haunted place. Why leave in hurry huh?? Afterall it's early in the morning!!! But everyone seems to ignored me and quickly hopped into the ferry, sighed in relief and off they went.

as usual, the ever nuisance Monkey took some time to wave them goodbye at the top of this rocky steps.

"Au Revoir Mesdames et Messieursr!!! Bonne journee!!!!" and waved like a mad monkey.
JS >.< Monkey would u please stop talking to strangers???

Okie lor....and I continued up the steps. We had to climb up a bit to reach the main entrance.

From the steps, we made a few pit stop to admire the exceptional views. ahhhh splendid~~~

Monkey alwiz play Tour Guide....the tour guide who visits all the sights and monuments for the very first time and as blur as her tourist aka Mr. JS

"bienvenue a Chateau d'if!!!! en 1516....Francois son edification pour la defense de Marseille. Transformee en prison au 17th siecle."
JS -_-
"english please!!!"

okie lor.....:P

On the inside of the compound, it isn't that big. I can't imagine how did they housed thousands of prisoners here. Built in 1524 as a fortress to protect the port of Marseille, it was soon useless and redundant bcoz canons can't shoot that far and the location just isn't good enuff as a fortress....

It was soon turned into a prison...something like Alcatraz in California. Bcoz it's almost impossible to escape from this rocky island.

Monkey led JS into all the dark rooms and dungeons....after a dungeons and rooms and sections of this fortress.....Monkey finally understood why all the earlier tourists were so eager to hop into the ferry when they saw it, fearing it may be the last ferry of the day and they had to spend the nite here if they missed it!!! bahahahahaha.

It's rather creepy here with a lot of energy, shrouding you as you walk through the tunnels and rooms. I don't know if it's the sound emitted from the wind goin through small creaks and holes of the fortress, or the echos of foot steps from other frightened tourists, or was it the emptiness in the hanging room, or it could just be the sound of nothing-ness and space when you entered dark dungeons with no lights at all!!! It's quite dangerous coz u can't see a thing, your senses just got heightened once u are in there.

Oh this is the hole in the famous The Count of Monte Cristo!!!

The adventure story written by Alexandre Dumas used Chateau d'if as his main setting for the novel in 1844. I haven't read it I can't share its story with you my dear readers :)))

Once out, we were relieved....before proceeding to the next level with more dungeons. Most of the prisoners here were sent here without could be as simple as "you caused a plague to France...and off u go to Chateau d'if"

how how how ridiculous but those were the days.

And prisoners were allocated according to class and wealth. It's either u will be crammed in a filthy small dungeons with 20 other prisoners or you get your own "hotel room" with a fire place and windows.

There's a panoramique view at the top of the fortress. You could see the city of Marseille from here.

There's clean toilets here for tourists, with a terrace restaurant and a cafe. I don't think they serve excellent food here, but if you want a view and don't mind paying hefty price.

Shadows of Monkey and usual in deep discussion...
must be about the list of prisoners here from royalties to poets, to french protestants.

What's that? asked JS
It's the Frioul Islands....we will go there for lunch later and hike up some rocky hills for the entire afternoon.

JS: "What are we waiting for? Let's go!!!! this place is eerie and boring!!"
hello mister, u gotta wait for the scheduled ferry unless u dun mind swimming over there.

we spent about an hour here, absorbing the view and hiking around this tiny 3.5km island.

Finally our scheduled ferry came and JS was the one leaping!!

JS: "Our ferry is here!!! Quick!!!"

I am sure there's lotsa yummy fishes here :)))) Happy fishing mister!!!
and our scheduled ferry took us to the next island - Frioul

we arrived just slightly before noon....most of the tourists headed back to Marseille but Frioul islands would be a great place to visit, if you like the nature and hiking. :)))

and settled down at this popular restaurant by the dock. We were so so so lucky coz it was the last table available. All the tables were fully booked bcoz it's Sunday. Most family will come here for half a day or just take their yacht out to this island for leisure.

Will blog about this restaurant another time.

ohhhh I lurve the sun here~~~~~

and we hiked around the 4 islands of Frioul archipelago. All the small yachts berthed here just for an afternoon of picnic on board and a leisure swim. How nice!!!!

JS deep in thought....must be bz thinking of which bottle of wines to drink on that evening. :P hahahaha

there's another small fortress here.

If you would like to plan your visit to Chateau d'if, pls refer below links for further readings.

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