Regent Seven Seas Voyager: Day Eight Aix-en-Provence and Marseille
PHOTO: On top of the world in Marseille (c) Sery Kim
My last day onboard was definitely, without question, my favorite excursion day. For those of you who know me well, I am 100% a real Francophile and dream of the day when I can have a second home in France. Since I adore the country so much, I have explored quite a lot of it -- and I know this because whenever I talk to people who live in France, and they ask me where I have visited, once they hear the laundry list they exclaim joyously, "That's a lot!"
We docked into Marseille which is the second largest city in France, second only to Paris. I didn't realize how big Marseille was until I walked around for an hour. The sprawl is tremendous: the view from the Notre Dame de la Garde will blow your mind. 360 degree views of Marseille including another fun fact, the fort were the Count of Monte Cristo was imprisoned.
PHOTO: One of the cruise guests posing for his wife in Aix-en-Provence (c) Sery Kim
I started my day early at 8:45 am because I wanted to visit both Aix-en-Provence as well as Marseille, and I know I made the best choice. For those of you who do have an option of either, I would strongly recommend both. It's definitely worthwhile.
Aix-en-Provence, or "AXE" as the locals refer to it, is the famous city where the Impressionists like Cezanne created some of the most famous masterpieces in the world. A super quick 40 minute drive from Marseille, this picturesque city is an absolute must to visit. No seriously! You have too!! And if you do visit, you need to visit on the weekend because the city bursts into colors and activity with countless farmers markets. I couldn't get enough of wandering around the city and taking pictures of all the stunning food on sale!!
PHOTO: Calissons sold in one of the many farmers markets (c) Sery Kim
Of particular note was the famous French pastries Calisson. You can learn more about it here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calisson. I've had them before but I didn't realize until I got to AXE that the creators are the wonderful bakers of AXE.
PHOTO: Mouth-watering and beautiful fresh fish at one of the farmers markets (c) Sery Kim
PHOTO: My perfect white peach (c) Sery Kim
Another great things to do in Aix-en-Provence is to grab a pastry because, when in France, how could you pass up the opportunity to eat a Pain au Chocolate?! Naturally, wherever you walk in AXE, you can find great spots to sit outside, enjoy a croissant as well as a spot of coffee. For me, I can't chose a place simply because there are a lot of people sitting outside. I like going to places where it looks like the building has been there for hundreds and hundreds of years: one where when I see the exterior it resembles something I would pay thousands of dollars for back in the United States to own a replica.
With this crazy ideal in my mind, after four miles of walking, I finally happened upon Boulangerie Jacob's.
PHOTO: Boulangerie Jacob's (c) Sery Kim
Upon seeing it, I was immediately struck by the aging facade. With it's fading exterior paint, wood chipped beyond comfortable repair, Boulangerie Jacob's looked like it had been around since the founding of AXE. I peered in and there was just one person sitting inside (way way waaaaaaay back inside) with the kind of shabby-chic design we Americans like to colloquially refer to as "French countryside." I immediately determined myself to go inside and eat though the breakfast onboard Regent Seven Seas Voyager had filled me to beyond capacity.
For a bargain of 2,20 euro I got an espresso and a marvelous Pain au Chocolate, which puts the one I am literally eating right now in Washington, DC to shame! The pain au chocolate was so flaky yet hearty, with a firm consistency more closely resembling a Danish rather than a croissant. The one I am in eating in DC right now began falling apart at first bite, with flakes flying over my laptop, my newspaper, the plate, me ... I mean I am a serious mess. At Boulangerie Jacob's, nothing flaked over me except for happiness!!
PHOTO: My pain au chocolate and coffee at Boulangerie Jacob's (c) Sery Kim
While I was sitting there, in clear view of the front door, numerous people walked in-and-out but very quickly there was a massive queue out the door. This surprised me, but I love that I started something because, in the height of tourist season, what better recommendation to enter and enjoy than a woman dressed up?
Afterwards, I did more walking before we headed to Marseille. I tried on these fabulous earrings and it is with regret I didn't buy them as they were a mere 20 euro. Ah well, just gives me a reason to get myself back to AXE!!
PHOTO: Fun/funky earrings in AXE (c) Sery Kim