europe,  france,  travel

Communing with the Count of Monte Cristo – Day 3


We were able to get out the door at a decent hour, as we had exciting sightseeing plans for the day. We planned to catch a ferry to visit Chateau d’If and the nearby island (Ile de Frouil). We packed ourselves a tote with beach goods, as the island was purported to have some beaches. We grabbed pastries from our now usual boulangerie around the corner and headed to a wine and goods shop. We took a stroll what turned out to be a pleasant little neighborhood, with cute little shops, most of which had opened yet and passing a massive, gorgeous striped church. The place I was looking for happily was open–we peeked inside the cheese case and picked out some local cheeses and duck terrine to go with the baguette we’d picked up. 

It was an absolutely gorgeous day, so we took our time meandering our way down to Vieux Port, enjoying the sun-soaked scenery. We discovered a fish market at one end of the harbour, where fishmongers were out with their fresh catches of the day. We stood in a fairly long line to grab our tickets for the ferry and were soon up on the deck, basking in the fresh sea breeze. We puttered along and took in the Marseille sky line and glistening waters, marveling at how incredibly blue the water was. Chateau d’If soon loomed ahead of us, as it was only a 20 minute ferry ride away from the city. The prison was made famous by the Count of Monte Cristo, who was wrongly imprisoned there in the book. We made our way through the prison, looking out the tiny cell windows at what would have been the painfully tantalizing view of the gorgeous city just out of reach. From there, we lounged in the shade with juice, waiting for the ferry to take us to the nearby island just 10 minutes away.

We hopped off and made our in the general direction of the beach. The landscape was beautiful but somewhat barren–dry, rocky hills dotted by shrubs. We passed what was likely the beach, but was somewhat small and lined by an unattractive chain link fence on one side. We continued along the path to a cove with a craggy shoreline, where we noticed another couple had laid out. So we scampered across the rocks and found ourselves a relatively flat spot to lay out our picnic and sunbathe. We munched on our tasty cheeses and terrine, after which Angela went in for a dip. The water was apparently just gorgeous, but I opted to stay dry as I didn’t want to walk around in potentially damp bathing suit later. The rocks were somewhat uncomfortable to lay on, though I did ultimately manage to find a fairly decent rock-back alignment. We laid out for about an hour, marveling at the relaxing breeze and beauty of the cove, before making our way back to the ferry and to Marseille. Upon disembarking, we popped in for another spot of gelato (lemon-flavoured!) and headed back to the hotel for a break from the sun, which turned into a delicious late afternoon nap. I managed to scope out what looked to be a tasty restaurant a little more off the beaten path.

We set off in search of it, walking down a street that was perhaps a little more on the run-down side. We eventually climbed up a ridiculously steep hill to the area around the Notre Dame du Mont metro station. We got slightly turned around, and with some re-tracing our steps and a quick consult with Google, we ultimately found the restaurant, Le Goût des Choses. It was a sweet little place, and we snagged a table on the patio. The food prices were actually pretty reasonable, with 25 euro (appetizer and main) and 33 euro (appetizer, main, dessert) menu options. I opted for the 3-course, so we could split a dessert. My first course was a risotto with smoked duck breast and for my main, I went with duck breast with a fig compote. Angela chose this smoked salmon dish with avocado and mascarpone as well as a main of half-salted cod in a bouillabaisse sauce with black rice. We grabbed a 50 cl bottle of white wine for the table and we were set. And boy what a meal! The food was beautifully presented and absolutely delicious. My risotto came with some kind of fried Parmesan hat which was scrumptious. And I’m always a sucker for figs, which was a beautiful pairing with the duck. It was different than the fig jam David makes to go with pork–a grittier texture, more like a tapenade in consistency. Angela was similarly impressed with her choices. We sat there delighting at our love for fine food and wine. For dessert, we shared a tasty nut biscuit with créme Anglaise, apple compote and salted butter caramel ice cream. I was pleased to have found a restaurant that was not in the usual tourist route and felt like a place that locals went to. We happily made our way down hill and back through Vieux Port to our hotel, briefly running into friends from the department relaxing on a bar patio. We capped our successful day with a sweet romantic comedy. Parfait!

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