dimanche 3 septembre 2006

Alain and I finally decided to go and visit the Chateau d'If and the Ile de Ratonneau. The boat trip from the Vieux Port to the Chateau d'If is 10 euros each (roundtrip) and for 5 more euros you can visit the Ile de Ratonneau, one of the several rocky islands. Ratonneau is inhabited while If is just the castle and a few outbuildings.
We took the ferry at noon and sat next to some American girls. Oh my god! Look at the like dead fish!
(it was fish market day)
We got to If and then paid another 5 euros each to visit the chateau. We had an hour until the ferry to Ratonneau. We toured the inside and listened to the commentary.
The Chateau was begun in 1529, as a fortress to guard against the rebellious Marseillais. Marseille had become a part of France in only 1481. It quickly began to house prisoners. The guide said that the first prisoners were two fisherman who had wandered too close to the military island and were held for fifteen days, I guess as a warning. Now if you wander too close to the Pentagon they just shoot you.
3500 Protestants were held over a period of 200 years. Here is a plaque commemorating it. last line "They preferred the chains of prison or death to giving in."
Other notable signs- the prisoner who was burned alive, and the room where the Man In the Iron Mask supposedly stayed. (à la bad Leonardo diCaprio movie). This is where the novel The Count of Monte Christo was set. Another prisoner was held here because he supposedly brought the plague to Marseille in 1720. They also guarded carefully, and quite successfully I might add, a dead man, General Kleber, for 18 years.
Ah yes, and in 1513 the first rhinoceros to be seen in Europe was brought as a gift. The poor thing was then sent to Rome and was shipwrecked on the way.

At 1:30 we caught the ferry to Ratonneau. We found a nice place to eat a picnic lunch, then walked up to what I believe were Nazi bunkers during WW2. I wouldn't bet my life on it, but I think that is what it is. Then we walked to the Hospital Caroline, constructed in 1828 and used as a quarantine place. From Wikipedia
On 29 August (1944) a landing party drawn from the Marine detachments
from Augusta and Philadelphia went ashore on the islands of Ratonneau and
Chateau d'If in the harbor of Marseilles and accepted the surrender of
German forces on those islands, taking 730 prisoners.

We had a juice at the port, then at 4 took the ferry back to Marseille. The return trip was extremely foggy. Here is a video I took of the return into the Vieux Port. As far as groundbreaking, exciting cinematography is concerned, it's not, but just to give an idea.

Alain and I took the Metro back to our Quartier. There were wedding guests waiting for the newlyweds to come out of the church, so I wanted to stop and watch. And then, as a final wonderful end to our day, with a flutter of pigeon wings and a ploop! I got christened. Ugh. I shrieked but I guess people were more interested in the wedding. Alain took out a napkin and wiped me off. Ahh, what a good husband. In sickness, health, and pigeon poop.

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