Cassis and the Calanques

The Drive to CassisMy 3rd day in Valencia, day 7 of my 15 day trip, was a lazy day of slow meandering throughout the city and lots of rest.  Spending the entire previous day out in the hot Spanish sun and swimming had left me feeling quite drained.  So nothing too exciting to report for that day.  Day 8 found me up and at it early, catching a taxi to the airport for my next flight, this time to Marseilles, France.  Once there, I quickly picked up my rental car, and was on my way, heading southeast to a little town on the coast of the Mediterranean, Cassis.  A bit of an expensive, touristy town, but I was missing the Mediterranean and desperately wanted to spend a night on it.  I chose Cassis because of the nearby Calanques, that there were numerous boats tours out to see.

CassisThe drive to Cassis was intense.  My car had a built in GPS, which, if it spoke English, I couldn’t figure out how to change it to that.  So, I attempted to navigate to French instructions.  I was so insanely thankful I had decided to hire a French tutor during the summer.  I had not even two months of experience with the language, but fortunately it was enough to be able to start recognizing what the GPS was telling me and not be completely lost with it.  However, the GPS did decide to take me through the heart of Marseilles (or at least it felt that way).  There were round-a-bouts that did not function the normal way; if you’re in it, you have to yield to people coming onto it.  A rather stupid concept.

Hotel Le GolfeAnd then there was the temporary road closure for a bicycle race, which of course was the only road through the hills to get to Cassis…  I ended up driving down a different road, up into a different area, trying to kill time and see what I could find.  Nothing exciting, go figure, but it did kill the necessary time, and when I finally got back to the road to Cassis, I was able to take it.  The road is non-stop winding, up through the hills, until you finally have a beautiful view of the city behind you, coastline, and rocky hills.  It was gorgeous.  It was even better once you came over the hill on the other side and could see Cassis, but there was nowhere convenient for stopping for those pictures.

The CalanquesCassis turned out to be a bit of a nightmare to drive in.  It was packed full of people and parked cars.  My GPS took me down a little one way road, which it then wanted me to turn onto a second road to my hotel, which turned out to be a pedestrian foot path only.  I kept driving in circles, trying to find anywhere that I could pull over at for a moment to look at the map on the GPS and attempt to figure out a new route since it wouldn’t take me any other way!  There was nowhere to pull over in the town, every possible parking spot was taken.  Eventually, starting to head out of town in a different direction, I found a large enough area in front of someone’s gated drive to pull over onto for a moment.

The CalanquesAfter studying the map, I reattempted to find the hotel, this time succeeding.  If you stay in Cassis, make sure you reserve parking at the hotel you’re staying at!!!!!!!!  I had done so, and they were able to provide me with a key to unlock and move a post that blocked entrance to some parking.  While checking in, I heard another couple asking where to park their car, and they were told, unfortunately, you’ll have to find somewhere since you didn’t reserve anything…  I can’t imagine where they eventually managed to park theirs, but I guarantee it was nowhere nearby.

The CalanquesI had booked a room at Hotel Le Golfe, which was right on the edge of the water.  Of course, since I was staying there for the sea, I paid the extra little bit for a room with a view and had a wonderful view looking out over the boats in the little harbor and the beautiful old Château de Cassis on the hilltop looking over the city.  I was too early to actually check-in to my room, but they did allow me to park my car, so I went and wandered around the town and the harbor area.  I got another fantastic European pizza for lunch and then went and purchased a ticket for one of the boat tours.

Cassis, France

The CalanquesI sat in the front of the boat, wanting the view that I had paid for.  As the boat raced across the water, it would randomly hit a large wave just right, and cause a lot of water to splash up and onto us.  It felt absolutely amazing in the hot July heat, but do watch out for any cameras or other items you might have on you!  The water of the Mediterranean is very salty, so even if the water does them no harm, the salt buildup can’t be good.  The Calanques were a beautiful, almost white color, which paired with the insane aqua blue color of the water was breathtaking.  So worth the boat ride out to see them.

The Lighthouse at CassisIf you plan for some extended time in this area, you can hike to some of the different ones.  Also, I was going to try and go on an evening boat ride back to one of the nearby Calanques for a bit of swimming and wine.  However, once I got back from my tour, I went and checked into my room, relaxed on the bed, staring out at Cassis and the water, and promptly fell right asleep.  When I finally woke up, it was dark outside!  Such  a disappointment!  I did wake up to find, though, that after all of my time in the sun during the past week, I was horribly sun burnt.  That second boat trip in the evening sun might have been too much for me to handle anyways…

My Aroamas

As a side note, prior to this trip I stumbled upon a rather nifty creation by a fellow world traveler who recognized a need…  Travel in a lot of places, especially Europe, is cheaper if you don’t check a bag, but then you run into that problem of taking liquids…  Perfume for example.  She created what she calls Aroamas.  They’re a solid perfume stick, they look like thinner chapsticks, that are made of beeswax, coconut oil, and the fragrance.  You just roll it onto your skin, and the smell lasts!  I took these all over with me for two weeks and absolutely loved them!  They’re not a liquid, they don’t spill or make a mess, and they smell great all day!  And you can carry them with you as you’re out and about exploring, they’re that small.  I take mine with me everywhere I travel now.  Plus, I’ve found, if I wander into an area that doesn’t smell so great, I just hold my wrist (that’s one of the places I like to put it) under my nose, and that’s all I smell…  Fantastic creation on her part, I highly recommend checking these out, she has lots of different fragrances.  I got “The Exotic Trio” set and love all 3 of the scents.  Check out her page here.

The Harbor and Château at CassisI got up and wandered back around the harbor, this time trying to find something appetizing for dinner.  I settled on one restaurant with an appetizing sounding lobster on the menu, which turned out to be delicious.  After eating, I walked along the little beach, wading in the Mediterranean Sea, gazing at the stars and being so thankful to have been able to have taken this trip, and for having the courage to have done it by myself.

The Harbor and Château at Cassis


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