A homemade taste of France: Croque Monsieur

A week ago I decided it would be a good idea to try and make a representative dish from each of the stops we made on our honeymoon a year ago on my day off. Last week I made a meal of tapas to kick off the start of this culinary trip down memory lane. This week a year ago we were in Marseille, France.

There was one thing Mrs. Primate wanted to eat while we were in France, and it was surprisingly difficult to get our hands on due to the French method of dining. It was always on the menu, but never seemed to be available when we wanted to eat. It’s not anything too fancy, but it’s what we wanted. This led to a bit of frustration as we searched and searched for a place that had an open kitchen, and additionally, wouldn’t refuse to make one. The croque monsieur, was our metaphorical pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Vieux Port, #marseille #france #picstitch

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On our last evening in Marseille, we visited a small bakery where we had purchased some macarons a few days earlier and the very nice, very friendly baker had two Croque Monsieur sandwiches in her case. She graciously heated them up for us and wrapped them in wax paper, and we took them to the old port, sat down, and had a little picnic next to the boats gently bobbing in the water, in the shadow of the citadel and NΓ΄tre Dame de la Garde basilica on the hill across the harbor. It was sublime. It was the perfect moment from Marseille to recreate with a meal.

After scouring pinterest for a recipe, I decided on a basic Croque Monsieur recipe I found that looked easy enough to accomplish and a “ratatouille” made in the style of Disney’s movie about the culinary rat. Hey, we needed vegetables and this looked pretty, even if it isn’t so authentic. Four ham and cheese sandwiches, one pot of bechamel, and a few chopped vegetables later, dinner was served, and you know what? It took me right back to the old port of Marseille for a few minutes.

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Marseille, France – Hanging out in Provence

Our last evening in Barcelona we grabbed dinner, picked up our bags from the hotel, and boarded a bus headed for Marseille (Marsella if you’re in Spain). It was a long night. The air conditioner on the bus was cranked up to the max, Carolyn had a rough time sleeping, and the bus smelled oh-so fresh. We made it, though. After a couple cups of coffee we stumbled down the hill from the train/bus depot and checked into our hotel. They let us in early, we slept like the dead. Early check-ins are the biggest blessing when you travel overnight, and on our honeymoon we had more than our fair share of good luck in getting them. Hooray! Enough of the storyline.

Marseille - Vieux Port

The old port of Marseille was the central hub of our stay.

The cool stuff I loved in Marseille

Marseille - City Hall

Marseille’s municipal building with tons of French Flags.

Marseille - Citadel

The star-shaped citadel of Marseille just screams medieval.

Marseille - Medieval Church

This church in Le Panier looked like it had been here since the crusades.

Marseille - Cathedral de la Major

This beautiful Byzantine style cathedral made me think it could have been a set piece in a great movie.

Marseille - Cathedral de la Major

The colorful flags inside the cathedral really captivated my imagination.

Vieux Port of Marseille

The entrance of the Vieux Port in Marseille makes it so easy to picture old tall ships sailing in and out.

Les Calanques of Marseille

Les Calanques, the rugged, rocky coastline to the East of Marseille are easily accessible by boat, and stunning.

Marseille - Relics in the Abbey

The first Catholic relics we saw on the trip were in an Abbey in Marseille. I was amazed to see these relics that used to BE someone.

Marseille - Notre Dame de la Garde

Notre Dame de la Garde, the cathedral that sits atop the hill overlooking Marseille is dedicated to the protection of seafarers. It’s a pretty interesting place with lots of paintings of people who died horrible deaths and shipwrecks.

Carolyn eats Chateau d'If

My wife worked up quite an appetite on the way up to Notre Dame de la Garde, so she ate the former landmark of Chataeu d’If.

Marseille - Notre Dame de la Garde - Interior

The inside of Notre Dame de la Garde is quite unique among cathedrals we visited in Southern Europe.

Marseille -Notre Dame de la Garde - Apse

The apse of Notre Dame de la garde.

Marseille - Notre Dame de la Garde Vista

The stunning view from Notre Dame de la Garde.

Marseille was the only stop in France on our honeymoon, and boy oh boy was it beautiful. The beautiful old cathedrals are distinctively French (as one might expect in Marseille, non?), The food was distinctively delicious. The sites we saw were all very close to each other, so we walked everywhere. We were very lucky with the weather, and enjoyed blue skies until the very end of our last day in Marseille. As luck would have it, the sky opened up just as we were near the entrance to an Irish Pub, so we finished up our French experience with a couple pints of Killian’s.

I think the most memorable pieces of Marseille were the churches, cathedrals, and abbeys. This was the first time in my life that I encountered relics. You know, the bones of saints and people that did holy things and whatnot. Skulls, kneecaps…you know, that kind of stuff. When these items are lit up in a gloomy stone building adorned with medieval tapestries and flags, I could have made myself believe I was in a setpiece forΒ Game of Thrones orΒ Joan of Arc or some other story I could only see on TV. It was wonderful.