Posts Tagged ‘marseille’

SCOTCH and SODA Sweat, and other things

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

Catie, Emma, and I all wanted to make the most of our time in Marseille, so we spent the majority of not only the days but also the evenings walking around the city. I’ve talked before about my affection for night photography, and the winding streets of Marseille offered plenty of good new content. I could ramble on for a little while now about some of the things we saw, or the pleasant taste of the nighttime sea air coming off the Mediterranean, but frankly I need to cut straight to the point of this post; while we were walking along some random street in a city in France, we glanced at a small clothing store display window and saw a BRONXVILLE sweatshirt for sale.

Marseille, France (Nov 12, 2010)

Photo taken in Marseille, France on November 12, 2010.

Before we go any further, be sure to take a good close look at that picture. Everything about the display of that sweatshirt in a shop in the middle of Marseille is so incredibly bizarre, that I don’t even know where to begin. For anyone totally clueless, Bronxville is a very wealthy self-proclaimed ‘village’ with approximately 6500 residents about 15 miles north of Manhattan in New York State. (According to Wikipedia, it is actually one of the places in the country with the most affluent households and the highest average incomes.) Sarah Lawrence College (from which both Catie and I graduated) happens to be located in Bronxville. Actually, to be more precise, SLC sits mostly in the much less prestigious city of Yonkers, but the college is very careful about associating itself (including its postal code) instead with Bronxville as much as possible since it has such a nice (and did I mention wealthy?) high-class reputation.

OK, so the obvious general question is – how did a Bronxville sweatshirt end up in Marseille? Who knows. And why did someone put it there? Well, it does also say “NEW YORK” underneath, and it seems like no matter where you go in the world, there will always be people who want to associate themselves with New York. That’s fine! I’m not judging! New York is a great place. I love it there!

The next weirdest part of the display is the listed price of the sweatshirt. Over the course of my last three months living and squandering money in France, I have become intimately familiar with the exchange rate between the Euro and the American dollar. It has remained fairly consistently at a rate of at least $1.33 for every €1.00. (In other words, for whatever price you see in France, add on an extra third of that to get the true cost for us American suckers. After you do that, feel free to cry a little before paying the probably egregious sum.) That means that this Bronxville sweatshirt – which in my opinion is rather old and ratty-looking, not to mention just plain boring – is being sold in a French shop for almost $45. I don’t think even the swindlers who work at the Sarah Lawrence College bookstore would try to charge that much for such a sweatshirt. Who is buying this for $45? I honestly can’t imagine.

Finally, we get to what I think is easily the strangest part of this enigma. Why is it labeled as a “SCOTCH and SODA” sweatshirt? Is it because this is the type of article of clothing that you would only want to wear while lounging about, drinking scotch and soda? (For that matter, do people lounge about, drinking scotch and soda? I haven’t the foggiest.)

EDIT: I did some research, and I found out that Scotch & Soda is actually the name of an “Amsterdam Couture” fashion design house, specializing in very expensive clothes. I can’t actually find the Bronxville sweat anywhere on their website or store, but let us assume that it is indeed designed and distributed by this company. I have to say, I think this makes it even weirder! What is expensive and fashionable about a shabby blue Bronxville sweatshirt!? Who in Amsterdam decided this was a chic idea?! Have they been to Bronxville before? Were they trying to make a BRONX sweatshirt instead, and just got confused? (Not that I would consider a Bronx sweatshirt particularly “chic” by any regard, but it would at least be more imaginable than Bronxville!)

I am sure this mystery will never be solved. Maybe if I had stayed in France long enough, I would have started seeing fashionable young ladies wearing black tights, tall boots, and sweatshirts featuring the names of other somewhat obscure locales in Westchester County. Who’s to say, really…

Marseille, France (Nov 12, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 12, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 12, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 12, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 12, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 12, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 12, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 12, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 12, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 12, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 13, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 13, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 13, 2010)

Photos taken in Marseille, France on November 12-13, 2010.

Up a different hill this time

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

It turns out Lyon isn’t the only place in France with an impressive basilica that sits upon a hill and overlooks the city below. Marseille’s version is the Notre-Dame de la Garde, which we set out to visit on a beautiful Saturday morning (after a healthy amount of rest, breakfast pastries and croissants, and coffee, of course). Despite being able to see the basilica from almost any point in the city, we weren’t quite sure how to get to it, so once we were in the right part of the city we simply resolved to keep walking in whatever direction continued our vertical ascent. It was a decent strategy since the basilica sits at the highest natural point in Marseille, and sure enough, it worked!

The basilica itself was beautiful, as were the views of the city (and the sea) that it afforded. It was a bit crowded for my personal church-visiting tastes, and much like the Notre-Dame de Fourvière, the amount of adorning detail covering practically every surface was nearly impossible to visually process, let alone photograph. But, I am very glad we made the trek up all the same! (Plus, I actually don’t think you’re allowed to visit Marseille without paying the basilica a visit.)

Marseille, France (Nov 13, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 13, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 13, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 13, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 13, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 13, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 13, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 13, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 13, 2010)

Photos taken in Marseille, France on November 13, 2010.

A city by the sea

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

When I was living in Tasmania, I loved that my life in Hobart centered around the sea. My apartment was more or less in the city center, and every day I would walk ten or fifteen minutes to the University of Tasmania School of Art, which had its campus in an old jam factory directly on the water. I wasn’t much of a socialite in Australia (nor anywhere, truthfully), so when I wasn’t working at school or at home, I was often meandering around the docks, staring out at the water or (when feeling less pensive) hunting seagulls with my camera. I don’t know why I liked it so much. There was something about the constant presence of the water and the quietly lapping waves that just seemed to help keep me at peace.

So, I was happy when we got to Marseille and I saw that the city (part of it, anyway) centers itself around Vieux-Port. The seaport was first settled by the Greeks in 600 BC, and the harbor has remained an important spot ever since (although it is now used only as a marina and a docking point for local boat trips). I don’t know much more about it than that (and I freely admit I pulled even that pitiful historical tidbit directly from Wikipedia), except that it is now surrounded by what seems like hundreds of restaurants. I honestly don’t even really love any of the photos I took around the water. I just wanted to take a moment and note my appreciation of this maritime quality of Marseille.

Marseille, France (Nov 12, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 12, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 13, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 13, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 13, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 13, 2010)

Photos taken in Marseille, France on November 12-13, 2010.

That is a really, really big cathedral

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

The first thing we sought out in Marseille – in part because of its proximity to our hotel – was the Cathédrale de la Major. We didn’t know exactly where it was, but we knew the general direction, and as we turned onto another seemingly run-of-the-mill street, our jaws all promptly dropped. The Marseilles Cathedral is enormous. I am fairly certain it is the largest cathedral I have ever seen. I don’t think I could even really comprehend its massive scale as I gazed at and walked closer to it.

Marseille, France (Nov 12, 2010)

Photo taken in Marseille, France on November 12, 2010.

Unfortunately, we arrived at the cathedral at an awkward time of day – about twenty minutes before it was dark enough outside to warrant turning on the lights inside. As a result, it was pretty much pitch black everywhere inside the cavernous building. (In fact, I made a misstep down a few stairs that almost resulted in a broken ankle.) Just as we gave up seeing the interior and began making our exit, they actually did turn the lights on, but we wanted to see more of Marseille before the sun went down, so we resolved to come back another time.

Sadly, when we did come back the next day, we arrived a little while after closing time, and we weren’t able to visit the following morning of our departure either. I was disappointed, but even just that first glimpse and impression of the Cathédrale Sainte-Marie-Majeure de Marseille was enough to burn it into my memory for a long time to come. Perhaps I’ll make it back another day.

Marseille, France (Nov 12, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 12, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 12, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 12, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 12, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 12, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 13, 2010)

Photos taken in Marseille, France on November 12-13, 2010.

Weekend spontaneity

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

We went to Marseille! (I just had to blurt it out!) Spurred greatly by Emma’s enthusiasm to take a weekend trip somewhere outside of Lyon (no offense intended to our great French city), we all headed south for 48 hours of delicious warm Mediterranean air. The venture was a great success. Marseille is a beautiful seaside city, and the weather could not have been better. We all abandoned our jackets at some point (as well as most of our remaining layers), and the two Alaskans in our party probably risked a bit of sunburn. (OK, perhaps the Minnesotan did as well.)

Marseille, France (Nov 13, 2010)

Photo taken in Marseille, France on November 13, 2010.

We ate as much delicious food as we could handle in such a short period of time, and we even stumbled upon a crêperie that would rival my favorite back in Lyon. (In fact, we ate there twice and devoured a collective eight crêpes in the span of 18 hours.) Thank you so much to Emma for kicking our slightly domestic butts into gear and getting us to Marseille!

Marseille, France (Nov 12, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 12, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 12, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 12, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 13, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 13, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 13, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 13, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 13, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 13, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 13, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 13, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 13, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 13, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 13, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 13, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 13, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 13, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 13, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 13, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 13, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 14, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 14, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 14, 2010)

Photos taken in Marseille, France on November 12-14, 2010.