When I found out that this month’s travel link-up topic is all about unexpected places, I immediately thought about Saint-Tropez. But as I’ve already spoken about my affinity for the place, let me tell you about another small town in Southern France I have a soft spot for (which is coincidentally also known as the “Saint-Tropez of Provence”).
Cassis is a small town 10 miles east of Marseille known for its port, cliffs, and gorgeous white and rosé wine.
If you have a thing for boats, then this is a lovely quaint place to stop and stare. The tiny port houses all sorts of them from sailboats to speedboats to houseboats, bay boats and superyachts.
And as it’s a fishing port, the seafood is absolutely divine. I’ve had really plump mussels at Le Bistro, super fresh sole meunière and the most amazing fish soup at La Vieille Auberge, which I still dream about from time to time.
On paper, Cassis looks like your normal seaside village. It’s touristy, but it’s more quiet than places like Cannes, Saint-Tropez, Montecarlo so it’s quite nice for a chilled out, fuss-free time. You know – swimming in the sea, licking gelato, sipping cocktails, flaunting that super Summer-ready body.
What a glorious life it would be, no?
I was busy sipping a nice cold beverage at the Yacht Club Cassis when a friend said “You can’t experience Cassis without seeing the calanques, go!” Intrigued, I asked how long it would take and apparently journey time was only 20 minutes from the port. Feeling a brave sense of adventure, I headed off to explore these magical coves with the clearest, bluest waters of the Mediterranean.
But first, lighthouse selfie!
We followed signs from the port, to the beach, to the residential village. It seemed easy enough until I realised it’s been about 40 minutes and there were still no signs of the magical calanques. My water supply was running low and the sun was smiling down at 36°C. Nobody was around and mon Français est trés mauvais. Panicking a little bit, I felt lost.
“I thought it’ll take 20 minutes from the port!”
“Honey, it takes 20 minutes from the port ON A BOAT not ON FOOT!”
Holy. French. Fries.
Just like this photo, there was a fork in the road. Part of me wanted to head back and just chill by the beach, but another part of me wanted to push myself further. We were (hopefully) halfway there (we weren’t).
And then for some strange reason, Miley Cyrus popped into my head.
“I CAME HERE IN LIKE A WREEEEEECKING BALL.”
Er, wrong song.
"There's always gonna be another mountain, I'm always gonna wanna make it move Always gonna be an uphill battle, sometimes I'm gonna have to lose Ain't about how fast I get there Ain't about what's waitin' on the other side (actually it is, Miley.) It's the cliiiiimb"
Right on, Miley. So we trekked some more like Dora the Explorer. O’er steep, narrow footpaths, and rather hazardous hills of limestone and whatever rocky things they were which, even in hot heat, were rather slippery. I dared not take photos for fear of falling or slipping.
We eventually saw other tourists. Save for some complaining ladies (who were wearing maxi dresses and sandals), everyone else hiked in silence. It was pretty cool and almost felt like some sort of unspoken camaraderie. You know, secretly uniting in a battle with heat and nature. We’ll get there. And it’s going to be worth it.
Almost two hours, four near-to-death slips, and three shades later under the scorching Mediterranean sun, we got there. And yes, it was well worth it.
Waters stretched until what looked like the sky from the horizon and I couldn’t wait to dive into the blue.
Perching on one of the cool rocks, I watched people frolic in the sea and was mesmerised about how much life there is in this little part of the Mediterranean. I still wish I knew about the boats but the hike itself was an experience of its own.
And it may be a cliché but hot damn, hiking the calanques felt like a metaphor on life: there are always going to be forks in the road, rocky climbs and slippery slopes. But you are the absolute captain of your life and your destiny so however smooth or rough the journey is, it’s always up to you to choose how to play it and where to go. But make the “how” count as you do. And the climb. 😉
This month’s travel link-up topic is about UNEXPECTED PLACES: It could be a surprise, last minute trip, somewhere you thought would be better, a place that you surprisingly loved. Join us by popping your post up over the first week of the month (the 1st – 7th June 2016), add it to the link up widget found on our topic suggesting co-host Carolann‘s blog, Angie‘s, Jessi‘s or Emma‘s.