The next morning was all about the Mucem. Louis XIV built Fort St Jean at the entrance of the port, with a second fort guarding the other side. Visitors imagine that the forts were built to protect the city from sea-based invaders, but the cannons were aimed on the town, the king as distrustful of southerns as a modern Parisian. Today the fort has been renovated into a glorious cultural space with a marionette museum, a miniature circus display and lots of herbal scented outdoor space for play, picnics and lounging around.
A vertiginous pedestrian bridge connects the fort to J4, Mucem’s modern wing with a permanent exhibition on the Mediterranean region. The collection is, quite frankly, pathetic. There is no nice way of putting it. Cheap replicas are displayed in glass cases like valuable artifacts. The story, well, there is no story, logic or coherency. Which was great because it meant we could rush back upstairs and slurp down a few oysters on the rooftop terrasse before heading home to Paris. Oddly enough, neither Mr French nor I are major friends of the bivalve, but that was beside the point of the glorious, sun soaked rooftop area.
We were starving because before coming to the museum, which only opens at 11am, we had gone for a run, then tried to have lunch Chez Roger on the Old Port. Chez Roger specializes in seafood and all I can say is, “Do NOT eat Chez Roger. No matter how enticing the terasse may be, in full sun, with the port waters just a few metres away, do NOT eat there. It was, bar none, the worse seafood platter I have ever had in my life. The crab tasted like rotten eggs. Even the Pasits couldn’t was the horrid taste out of my mouth. Combined with horrid service and even worse clientele, this is a place to AVOID at all costs.
The settling in for the flight home was a lesson in cultural studies. The plane was packed and except for me with my olive oil, everyone had opted for carry-on. Mr French sat in his seat, the paper bag with the porcelain doll on the seat next to him. “Monsieur,” the flight attendant gestured, “the flight is full, you’ll have to store your bag in the overhead bin.” Mr French ignored her. She persisted. He finally acknowledged her existence, “Non. This package is very, very fragile, its not moving.” She explained, he refused. I sat between them, my head going back and forth like I was watching a ping pong match.. In the end, she agree to put it in the front of the plane, in a closet reserved for crew.
I had put my tote bag in the overhead bin and after that, every time a passenger tried to shove it my bag aside to squeeze in their suitcase, the same flight attendant would jump over, to reprimand them for crushing my things, and would force them to the back of the plane with their bag. In the US, the flight attendant would have written us off as jerks, but here, Mr French had earned some major respect. We were flying home with considerable street cred’ and I was more confident than ever that life is full of surprises living with a Frenchman.