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Friday, June 4, 2010

Cruising the Calanques at Cassis

Being in, or around, the water seems to be where I'm spending quite a bit of my time lately. I wanted to chalk it up to the coming of summer, but I've realized that in the South of France, most activities seem to somehow take us all to the sea. Since I'm quite a new member of Club Med, I've found it somewhat difficult to trade in my street-trekking Italian footwear for a pair of sandy flip-flops. But some places, like the Calanques, make it easy to see why tourists flock to the South & I'm quite convinced these cool waters could turn even the most glamorous city-gal (which I'm several Prada sling-backs behind) Med-friendly.   

If you've ever even touched a guide to Provence, it's more than likely you've come upon a description of the Calanques; azure-blue inlets bounded by sheer, white cliffs which run from Cassis to Marseille (or vice-versa depending on where your skiff sets sail...).  It seems that everyone & their maman had recommended a trip to these fabled coves & I have to admit that I was already a bit Calanquesed-out by the time we set sail last week.  Well, don't let anyone tell you differently (even those little troublemakers Public Enemy), because this time you really can believe the hype.  Maybe it's another running theme lately, but the Calanques are truly a must-see for the region.

There are several jumping-off points for a day of cove-hopping, but we chose to depart from Cassis as it was the first stop on our see-as-much-of-the-South-as-you-can-in-3.5 days tour last week & basically I just can't get enough of this trés jolie ville.  We booked the mid-day tour, and apart from a few sea-spray-in-the-face shots (and a barely-there "naturalist" sighting), all of our oohs & ahhs were dedicated to the unreal crystal waters beneath the boat.

As we puttered back to the port of Cassis (for a dang good mussels & fries lunch), we saw several examples of what the French do very, very well: sport. We passed, in no particular order, sailboaters (& instructors), kayakers, stand-up paddle surfers, hikers, climbers, & fishermen (just reading this list I feel lazy). I am warming up to all the outdoor activities in Provence (my summer shape-up walks now include going uphill), and I'm resolved to take up a sport this summer. I see myself, paddles a-turning, gliding through the Calanques one August afternoon and, more than likely, wondering how I ever trekked around Rome in three-inch heels. 

Tariffs from Cassis:

Visit to 3 Calanques in 45 mins. - €13.00
5 Calanques in 65 mins. - €15.00
8 Calanques in 2hrs. - €19.00

More on the Calanques:

1 comment:

  1. I first discovered les Calanques in my mid 20's and love every time I have the opportunity to return. Cassis is one of the most beautiful little towns in France.
    Enjoy your sports this summer! :)