Traipsing around such an exotic city as the French Mediterranean port of Marseilles was an exciting prospect when I arrived there for a World Fishing Exhibition in 1975. One of my first impressions, however, was a little consternation on entering the tiny bathroom of my hotel room. In addition to the customary wash basin and toilet there appeared a toilet-like structure which I had never seen before. There was, moreover, a supply of cloth-like paper sheets nearby, with no sign of customary toilet paper. It was my first introduction to a bidet.
My hotel was located far from the port’s waterfront so, when free time opened up for some sight seeing, I set out on a very long walk through the city, marvelling at the bright colours and the sheer variety of dwellings, business houses and factories along the way. Despite a general awareness of Marseilles’ reputation as a sometimes dangerous place, it was a peaceful and trouble free jaunt yielding nothing more bothersome than a part of sore feet.
The old port I finally reached was a delightful spectacle, rich in the pageantry of shipping, bustling trades people, awesomely aromatic cafes and restaurants, and handsome artistic and historical treasures. After touring the waterfront and snapping a few pictures, I treated myself to a sumptuous mid day serving of bouillabaisse, featuring an intriguing array of seafood delicacies. What else could one do at a world fisheries exhibition?
Sandy but mainly rocky beaches beckoned for hundreds of sun worshipping tourists, though few seemed to bother swimming.
Guarding the port is the centuries-old Fort Saint-Jean, which stands at the harbour entrance.
A very un-French sounding Snack Bar was a convenient setting for relaxing exhibition patrons.
Notable works of art discovered in my wanderings included a striking triumphal arch and, on a busy roadway, a glorious replica of Michelangelo’s iconic statue of David.