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Just For Canadian Dentists - August 2015

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Just For Canadian Dentists - August 2015

  1. 1. July/August 2015 JUST FOR CANADIAN DENTISTS 17 t r a v e l a t h o m e la vie sur la mer Vieux Port of Marseille (below) and Château d’If. t r a v e l t h e w o r l d from Paris to Provence and back again STORY + PHOTOGRAPHY BY BARB SLIGL
  2. 2. 18 JUST FOR CANADIAN DENTISTS July/August 2015 T he sea thrums to my right. A soft breeze tries to chase away the day’s intense heat as the still- strong sun dips closer to the horizon. The Plage des Catalans is like a colourful Pointillist paint- ing, a jumble of local Marseillais enmasse on one of the city’s two natural beaches. Other than this sandy crescent, it’s a rocky embrace with the Mediterranean around Marseille. I’m walking along Le Corniche, a seaside road atop the rocky ledge of the coast. Cafés and eateries are carved into the cliffs, bright lounge chairs perched just above the beckon- ing water. But I turn the other way, away from the blue and down a set of narrow stairs between charm- ingly crumbling buildings. It doesn’t look like I’m going anywhere until a sharp corner reveals a scene that’s almost cli- ché in its French-fishing-village cha- risma. I’m now in Vallon des Auffes, a tiny harbour tucked behind a bridge and packed with boats. Vallon means “small valley” and auffes is a grass that was once used to make fishing ropes and nets. It’s like another dimen- sion in this pretty port, with locals gathering around the water, sipping glasses of rosé and pastis, en plein air. Yet this enchanting scene is within walking distance of the Vieux Port or Old Port in the centre of Marseille. Consider me charmed. Mais,biensûr!C’estProvencesur la mer. C’est France. My dinner here, at Chez Fonfon, a long- standing restaurant in Vallon des Auffes, matches the scene. C’estparfait. Colourful cigales or cicadas adorn the wall alongside old photographs of local fishermen and past guests and a quote by French writer Alfred Capus, “La bouillabaisse,c’estdupoissonavec dusoleil.” Indeed. The word “bouillabaisse” is itself a mash-up of “boil” and “simmer,” and the classic French stew is a hearty mix of saffron, parsley, garlic, olive oil, tomatoes and Mediterranean fish that’s served with pota- toes, croutons, aioli and rouille mayonnaise. But on this balmy summer night I have the “fisher- man’s rockfish soup” topped with crunchy rounds of bread and rouille. And, oh, there’s nothing like French bread… Of course, on the coast (and steps from a still-working fishing village in the heart of Marseille), the seafood doesn’t disappoint either—nor does that blue yonder, the Med itself. The next morning, charming Frenchman (is there any other kind?) Yannick Long takes me out on his boat—a traditional pointu style, the pointy or notched fisherman boat of the Med. We sail right out of Vieux Port, the central and ancient meeting place of Marseille, where ships have docked for some 26 centuries— since the Phoenicians came here in 600 BC. The port is sandwiched between two rather impressive forts, Fort Saint-Jean, dating back to the 13th century, and Fort Saint-Nicolas, built by Louis XIV in 1600. The Palais du Pharo, built by Napolean III, also looms large on the hill that separates the Vieux Port from the sea. All the surrounding and somewhat overwhelming history of this place is playfully alleviated by a new installation at the far end of the port. L’Ombrière was built to coincide with Marseille’s turn as the European Capital of Culture in 2013, and is a mirrored piece of art-cum-pavilion by Norman Foster that’s become a modern meeting place abuzz with street musicians, tourists and fun-loving locals. Inland from here is the old and appropriately named neighbourhood of Le Panier (the basket), where narrow, meandering streets like Rue des Cartiers (named for Marseille’s famous tarot card makers) lead to spice- and soap- filled stores (with Marseille’s iconic square blocks), food vendors and markets. An even more stunning juxtaposition of old and new is the MuCEM building, a lacy or leafy box that’s connected to Fort Saint- Jean by a vertigo-inducing bridge over the turquoise water. Designed by Rudy Ricciotti and Roland Carta, the perfect square is a “vertical casbah” enveloped by the foliage- like brise-soleil or Mashrabiya. The MuCEM (Museum of European and Mediterranean IF YOU GO For more on Marseille: marseille-tourisme.com/en/. Beyond the Mediterranean coast is inland Provence, where lavender fields bloom and Alpes-de-Haute-Provence beckons. Regions like the Luberon offer wineries, bike tours and a factory and museum visit of iconic soap and skincare purveyor L’Occitane en Provence. It’s fields, vines, Alps + Med—all in the south of France. tourismpaca.com + rendezvousenfrance.com t r a v e l t h e w o r l d Vallon des Auffes.Along Le Corniche.
  3. 3. t r a v e l t h e w o r l d Classic Marseille fare, sardines, and the neighbourhood of Le Panier (right). Marseillais selling his wares. L’Ombrière. Marseillais Yannick Long.Chez Fonfon. Marseille soap and the MuCEM (right). De rigueur apertif, rosé.
  4. 4. 20 JUST FOR CANADIAN DENTISTS July/August 2015 t r a v e l t h e w o r l d la vie dans la ville [à Paris] Civilizations) also opened in 2013, along with the spectacularly cantilevered-over-the-water Villa Méditerranée and the Musée Regards de Provence. But back on the water, Yannick guides his pointu between the old Palais du Pharo and the new MuCEM and out into the blue. Soon, he’s pointing out yet another architectural marvel, the Château d’If of TheCount ofMonte Cristo fame, rising out of the water on one of the Îles du Frioul. He cuts the engine in the iso- lated cove of another island in this archipelago, lets down his hair, takes off his shirt and dives in…as the Marsaillais do on a hot and sunny day on the Med. I follow the charmant Frenchman’s lead (biensûr!). Swimming in the water, I think of a line I once read that’s stuck with me: the blue I’m in is blue the way water is wet. It’s all-encompass- ing. There’s no other way to describe such an innate, primal blue. I float effortlessly—there’s no work involved in keeping buoyant in this saline paradise—and my Frenchman (as I’ve come to think of Yannick) points out forma- tions in the rock. Stubby, column-like holds carved out of the cliffs are ancient bollards and remnants of Marseille’s marine history. In his singsong French (the Marseillais have a lovely lilt to their already lovely French accents), he tells how at one time, centuries ago, there were so many ships anchored in these waters that one could walk all the way back to the Vieux Port from here simply by walking from boat to boat. Formidable. Floating and gazing upon the bollards and arid beauty of the îles des Frioules, I think of Edmond Dantès on the Château d’If and how, yes, although that rocky atoll and isolated edifice was once a prison, I couldn’t think of a better place to be held captive. easy access +Fly to France direct—from coast to coast. In addition to weekly flights to CDG from YYZ and YUL, Air France has added YVR to the mix. YVR TO CDG This summer, Air France offers five flights a week, and will continue year-round with four and then three per week. STOPOVER IN MRS All fares allow a free stopover in Paris, so you can visit Paris and Marseille—or one of the other 38 French cities Air France connects to. ADD ANOTHER If you want to add another French city to the mix so you can experience even more of Provence via Nice, for instance, the additional fare is minimal— about $25 CDN. CODESHARE Not in YYZ, YUL or YVR? Air France has codeshare flights with WestJet that make flying from anywhere in Canada trèsfacile. airfrance.ca 3 NEW WAYS TO EXPLORE THE CITY OF LIGHT You’re doing a stopover in Paris because, c’est Paris, and even though you’ve been here before you can’t not visit again, whether it’s for three weeks, three days or a mere 36 hours. Here’s what we’d do if we had time for just three adventures in one of our favourite cities. 1 GALERIES LAFAYETTE Head to the top floor of the iconic department store, serving up haute couture in its flagship building since 1912. On your way to the seventh floor of the Lafayette Coupoler, browse designer brands, catch glimpses of the glass dome and stop at the Galerie des Galeries for the Idées Multiples exhibit. Cerebral and chic. Then, on the rooftop terrace, gaze at the Opera Garnier and Eiffel Tower. It may be the best gratis view over the rooftops of Paris. haussmann.galerieslafayette.com/en/ 2 LE VRAI PARIS Paris’ 9th arrondissement includes South Pigalle or SoPi, the undiscovered neighbourhood most Parisians probably want to keep that way (it’s also been cheekily referred to as BoBo for “bourgeois bohemian”). Tucked in the centre of Paris, just south of Montmartre’s busy streets, are local hipster hangouts—cafés, bistros, fromageries, gastrothèques and hidden courtyards. To get the insider scoop on what’s been called the new Marais, take a tour and have a beer with Guillaume Le Roux (yet another charming Frenchman; far left), who lives in SoPi and whose blog “716” or “sept, un, six,” which sounds like “c’est ainsi,” is a phonetic play on the French saying, “that’s the way it is.” levraiparis.com 3 ParIS autHentIC tour the original Marais in a classic Citroën 2CV (“deux chevaux” or two horsepower) convertible with another vrai Parisian, like Eric Falce (near left), who drives while he regales you with anecdotes. He dubs this experience Paris insolite or the unusual, non-touristy side of Paris. And super fun. en.parisauthentic.com MORE For more on Paris go to en.parisinfo.com. — B.Sligl 3 1 2 36 hours in PARIS 3

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