Marseille again

I’m starting to come here almost as often as I do to Venice. It’s a bit easier now because AUA, when it flies, does so twice a week direct from Vienna to Marseille. This time there were three of us and for one of us it was the first stay, so it was an ideal opportunity to stay a little longer. I finally had enough time to sketch. We had such a sensational view from the terrace of the hotel room that I didn’t even have to go far.

It really invites you to try your hand at some panoramas. I have hardly any experience with this, but it’s the ideal sketchbook. I discovered it by chance in Greenwich last year: it’s small, square and light, which is why I could easily take it with me to the island of If. No matter where you are in Marseille, you can always see the Notre-Dame de la Garde basilica, which towers majestically over the city.

If has its own small lighthouse.

The Château d’If, the real attraction, is architecturally less complex, but ideal if you’re in a hurry because the boat back will be docking soon.

As I said, you can see the church from everywhere, such as here from the hotel.

And now finally a panorama. The Frioul Islands including If and the Île Gaby with the Fort de Tourville seen from the Corniche Kennedy, Marseille’s famous seaside walk.

The other panorama shows part of the view from the hotel room. Fort Saint-Nicolas, Palais du Pharo, the old harbour, Fort Saint-Jean, the Tour du fanal and the Panier – all at a glance. I was already in the middle of sketching when I realised that I somehow had to put hundreds of boats on paper.


My plan to finally find enough time for a sketch of the opera house fails again. The building is always in the shade and you almost have to sit on the road to get a good view of it. This is quite risky under normal circumstances, but in view of the major roadworks in the street this time, it was absolutely not advisable. This was all the more unfortunate because, of course, I hadn’t come here for the magnificent views but, as always, to visit the opera house. This time it was an absolute novelty for me: I had never heard Jules Massenet’s Don Quixote before, let alone seen it. When the composer played some passages to Fyodor Shalyapin, the singer of the title role in the premiere, he is said to have burst into tears. I believe that immediately. It was the saddest and most touching opera I have ever experienced, which was further emphasised by the magnificent performance. There will be a new director next season. I can’t wait to see whether my periodic trips to Marseille will continue in the future.

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