Marseille was on my "definitely visit" list, but I hadn't expected it to be so soon on our trip (see why here). Still, we had a good part of the day to look around! Fortunately, my list was prioritized - there is a lot to see here!
We had metro/bus day passes, so we were not contstrained by having to count our rides. We started out at the USA consulate, a few stops up Metro 1 from the gare (main train terminal). We reversed on the metro to the Vieux Port (old port), and found the tourist office. They kindly explained how to catch the bus (#60) to the Notre Dame de la Garde, a high point in Marseille, with great views.
We caught the express bus, then waited in the long line of cars and buses just outside the basilica - we finally decided to walk the last (steep!) 5 minutes. We followed the signs for handicapped parking, which lead directly to an elevator to the church - believe it or not, this saved us 12 flights of steps! The views were fantastic! Spread below us was the red-roofed city, the old and new ports, the Mediterranean Sea, and multiple islands, including Château d'If (famous for its role in The Count of Monte Cristo).
Even on a Tuesday in September, this place was incredibly crowded. After our tour around the ramparts and cathedral, we went back to the bus stop - oh, what a wait! Then, oh what a mad rush and push to get on! I felt for the poor folks who were waiting for the bus to stop at later points - they were flat out of luck. We (and one other lady) expected to simply stay on the bus to continue to Fort St Jean - but due to the basilica crowds, the bus was dedicated to just that part of the route. We waited a while for another bus, finally gave up and walked to the fort. It was a fairly pleasant walk along the old port, but we were certaily ready for lunch by now!
We bused and walked until we found a likely spot, relaxed, ate, and drank (a lot! We were sooo dehydrated by then!) I definitely got my seafood fix on this trip: shrimp, mussels, octopus, and calamari - mmm mmm mmm!
I had left the tablet behind (heavy, but our only camera), so I wanted a few postcards of what we had seen. We found some, then returned "home" to Palavas-les-Flots - metro, TGV, drive - in time to cook a nice beef stew for a late dinner :-)