Thursday, November 19, 2015

Saint Charles Station, Marseille - France

A card from Marseille sent by Damien who has been to the city last September. 

All the romance of the early days of rail still surrounds Marseille's main train station, perched high on a hill to the east of the city centre and linked to it by a magnificent staircase.
 The first station building was opened on 8 January 1848 and, before the advent of mass air travel, Saint Charles quickly became the gateway to Africa and the Middle East for Northern Europeans.
Today, Marseille Saint Charles is the terminus for train routes serving most of the major French provincial towns and cities. It's also the southern end of the high-speed TGV Mediterrané line. 

Photo: © Frédéric Rolland
The grand staircase first opened to the public in 1925 (the sculptures were completed in 1927), and are 155 metres / 169.5 yards long, with 104 steps punctuated by seven landings.
The international flavour of the city, poised as it is on the very edge of Europe, is reflected in the ornate decoration, which consists (as you descend) of two matching sculptures of a child and lion; two ships' prows with symbolic female figures signifying the routes to the East and Marseille's own Greek origins; six bronzes celebrating the riches of provençal produce - grain, fruit, fish, wine, flowers and game. 
At the bottom of the steps are two highly politically incorrect sculptures: reclining, self-naked female figures representing the decadent colonies of Africa and Asia. - in:

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