20 June 2008 | Marseille
We entered into Marseille, the last mile or so as always taking longer than you think. The pilot book mentions the church high on the hill south of the port; this is Notre Dame de la Garde, which for centuries has been a marker for mariners coming into the city. As you get closer the cathedral on the waterfront, with its huge onion domes, is a great marker. The entrance is just to its south, and the tower marking the entrance to the Vieux Port becomes clear as you close the breakwater.
It is a very easy entrance, going through the breakwaters and then gently right into the big basin. The biggest challenges are the huge numbers of leisure vessels, ferry boats and others zipping about, and the number of buildings to gawp at. To port is the Fort St Jean, and on the right the imposing Palais de Pharo.
The Vieux Port is enormous. The huge basin is chock-a-block with yachts, mobo's, small fishing boats, ferries and trippers, kayaks, sculls. You name it. There are over 3000 moorings in here. And 40 berths for visitors!
The moorings are run by a huge variety of private clubs, only two of which accept visitors. These are SNM and CNTL. We had rung ahead, so we had a place reserved at SNM. (CNTL is cheaper but was full because of a regatta.) Including electricity and (rudimentary) facilities, this was ?'?25.50 a day; dear in one way but in the most fantastic position in the heart of a major city.
It is very difficult for our skills and small camera to capture the scale and bustle of the Port; this picture was taken at about 0100 from the top of Fort St Jean.