Chateau d’If

One January in the mid- fifties I arrived in Marseilles, France, for a concert with the Philharmonia Orchestra. The weather was mild and so far the tour had been very pleasant, so after fixing us up at a nice pension, I suggested to Gerald Brooks my stand partner that maybe we should take a stroll along the Canabiere, the main street, which is adjacent to the waterfront. We ate a very filling bouillabaisse for lunch and I felt like taking a nap but Brooks was intent on looking at the boats.
There were several boats offering trips, some to the Chateau d’If, where The Man in the Iron Mask immortalized by Alexandre Dumas, père, was reputed to have been imprisoned. It is on an island fairly near the shore and I arranged for a trip around it for a certain sum, but after only a couple of hundred yards or so the boatman pointed and said “Voila, Messeurs, Le Chateau d’If”. I argued with him that we had arranged to go around the island but he was adamant, violently shaking his head. Brooks and I held a council of war, but eventually decided to give him the extra francs that he had demanded, so we did get to sail around the island. Another example of what to expect when you are on tour, particularly in France!

Published in: on March 23, 2007 at 1:11 pm  Leave a Comment  
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