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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

St. Tropez's Down-to-Earth Sister...Cassis

Setting off on Sunday morning amidst clear skies & loads of sunshine, I finally understood what all the hype has been about - the South of France summer has arrived. After months of braving the terrible Mistral winds,  I believe I have earned my badge of honor & am planning to pack my summer with day trips & festivals galore. 

First on the agenda was Cassis - a small gem tucked at the foot of the Cap Canaille cliff & a sweeter, gentler version of St. Tropez. The town, which it turns out has nothing to do with the well-known Crème de Cassis liqueur (although I'm still a big fan of a good Kir Royal), is famous as a jumping-off point for visits to the Calanques, and also marks the start of the Route des Cretes- a 16km scenic ridge-road with stunning views of the sea & glimpses of Cassis from atop the Canaille cliff. 

Given its proximity to Marseille, Cassis is also a weekend favorite for well-heeled Marseillaises - which helps explain our half-hour fight to find a parking spot (good walking shoes..check). As we trekked down the hill & into Cassis, we found the village was indeed packed with other day-trippers but seemed to retain its sense of leisure amidst the crowds.  Sundresses, Pastis, & bermuda shorts were the order of the day, and I found myself quite well-suited to this "cafe culture" down South.
Several port-side cafes were full, but we were able to enjoy a quiet, and relatively inexpensive lunch (€19 fixed-price menu) at L'Escalier - viewing distance to the port but on one of Cassis' many attractive side streets.       
We took a post-lunch stroll past high-fenced villas & downright estates which did call  into question how similar or dissimilar Cassis is from St. Tropez; but as we met hikers trekking out to the Calanques, families setting up roadside picnic-fare, & tout le monde sunbathing on the small strips of beach, I felt it was safe to assume we wouldn't be encountering the likes of Karl Lagerfield or any Chanel models that day.  

More About Cassis:
Ville de Cassis (in French)

L' Escalier Restaurant
4, Rue Frédéric Mistral
13260 Cassis
PH: 04 42 32 33 80

1 comment:

  1. Looking forward to experiencing Cassis with you in the next couple of days! Sounds like a perfect way to wind down a site-filled French vacation :)