Beautiful Marseille. A city on turquoise waters. Blue skies. Warmer temperatures. Quaint narrow streets bustling with shoppers.
We looked forward to an extended weekend in Marseille visiting missionary friends, speaking a little French, enjoying long walks while taking in the sights. Well, can you believe that we hit Marseille on the coldest days of their winter thus far? And to add to the chilly temperatures, the mistral winds were a-blowing! It was definitely cold and our first sightseeing day found us surprised by snow flurries. And by the time we settled on the perfect place for lunch the flakes were growing larger and larger each time we glanced outside — which was often because we were sitting in a glass-enclosed room.
That night we viewed an Alfred Hitchcock film with Jacki’s intermediate English class. They really did well following the movie and also speaking with the American guests. We had lots of opportunity to engage them in conversation because we first shared pizzas and later had an intermission with desserts. And then discussion of the movie itself. I was trying to imagine myself in such a setting…I had much empathy and was very proud of their efforts!
Jamie, Jacki and Angelle kept insisting that this weather wasn’t the norm and that we should see some blue skies soon. Really? We knew there might be a problem when Jamie checked the weather online and exclaimed, “Oh, no!” Le Mistral was headed our way. We needed to prepare for amazing winds. Smokestacks across the way showed powerful winds as the smoke ran parallel to the ground. Good news accompanied the report, though, because Le Mistral would blow all clouds away and we would see the true Marseille.
Sunday was simply cold and windy. We attended their church, partook of the Lord’s Supper with new Brothers and Sisters and then returned to the Gildard’s flat to celebrate Jackie’s birthday with several close friends of the family. Such warm fellowship. But still unseasonably cold outside. And the wind knocked over the furniture that had been moved to a balcony while Jacki and Angelle painted Angelle’s bedroom.
One more day in Marseille. We planned to take our friends to lunch, but they needed to pick the place…we wanted some traditional French fare. We awoke to no sound of howling winds. The sky had a touch of blue here and there. And the cold temperature didn’t feel quite so chilly without the wind. Hopeful.
We visited Notre Dame de la Garde, then walked to the exact spot where Jeanne D’Arc was stopped dead in her tracks. Only Jamie would have delighted in this historical spot. Who knew a tank was actually named Jeanne D’Arc? We drove back to the city limits and found a place to park and then started walking. And walking. And walking. We decided on a cafe that specialized in crepes and we were most certainly not disappointed. Yum. We had both meat/cheese-filled AND a dessert crepe with lemon filling, strawberry sauce and way too much whipped cream! So, so tasty. We were actually thankful to be walking again after that meal.
We climbed roughly a bazillion steps to reach the train station where we needed to ask about a partial refund on our earlier travels — apparently these trains are not supposed to be more than 30 minutes late. We learned that the refund was not cash, simply a credit towards another trip. Jacki plans to take Angelle to Paris so we know the credit will be used by friends!
Tuesday morning and we’re up and out of the flat early for our mid-morning flight. No wind. A few clouds. A great day for flying.
The Gildards sent pictures that next day of an absolutely ideal day. Oh, sure. They expect us to believe warm temps, blue skies and no wind?!
Looks like we’ll have to take a return trip and see this weather phenomena for ourselves.