Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Cassis, Calanques and Cap Canaille

I'm taking a break from my series on Brexit here to talk about something a bit more cheerful. (The next Brexit post, on immigration, is actually sitting in my drafts folder, but it's such a complex and emotive subject that I'm a bit nervous about publishing it, hence the lack of updates over the past couple of weeks.) Understanding Frenchman and I spent Easter weekend in Cassis on what was probably our last trip with our hiking friends before the baby comes along, and it was awesome. My fitness took a nosedive after about 2 months of being pregnant, when I started to get breathless running for buses, but in the end, I think this may have ironically forced me to keep more active, because I keep missing the bus to work and having to walk instead. I'm not as fast as I used to be, and I can't keep up a conversation while walking uphill, but we still managed to clock up quite a few kilometres over the weekend.

On the first afternoon, we followed the trail out west, to the area between Cassis and Marseille known as Les Calanques. The Calanques are narrow inlets of water where a river has dug out its route to the sea between the steep limestone cliffs, and even although it wasn't very sunny, the water was still a gorgeous deep turquoise colour.

 On the second day, we went to Cap Canaille, the highest sea cliffs in mainland Europe at 363 vertical metres.This was a very direct climb up from the town, as there is a road and car park at the top, but no public transport, and definitely tested my remaining lung capacity, but the view from the top, with the dramatic cliff faces and rock formations, looking out over the Calanques, was worth every deeply-drawn breath.

 We had dinner that night at Le Patio, a traditional Provençal restaurant where I learned that the principal difference between soupe de poissons and bouillabaisse is that bouillabaisse is made with actual pieces of fish, while soupe de poissons is made with fish stock and served with garlic mayonnaise.

Our last full day was a bit damp and grey, so after the glorious sunshine at Cap Canaille, we were a bit less motivated to go out, but we managed a short walk on the dry, scrubby hinterland behind the Calanques where the air was full of the scent of rosemary bushes. As it was Easter, we played a traditional German game with boiled eggs, similar to a conker fight, where you have to bash the end of your egg against your opponent's to see which one breaks first. (We had decided against Easter Russian roulette, where you bash eggs against your forehead to find out which of the box has not been boiled beforehand ...)

On our final morning, we woke once more to beautiful weather and had breakfast on the terrace of our gîte, looking out to Cap Canaille. Then it was time to catch the train back to Paris, hoping that the sunshine would catch up with us eventually. (We're still waiting ...)


  1. Wow, I had no idea you could find this kind of scenery in France! Turquoise water like that reminds me of Thailand!

    I HATED walking when I was pregnant and usually, I love it. Walking straight at a constant pace without stopping was okay, I guess, but standing or stopping, dodging people, walking again, etc. was torture. On the plus side, right after I had Mark (i.e. two hours after labour!), it felt awesome to move normally again! Climbing stairs too.

  2. So beautiful! I have taken a boat tour by the Calanques but never hiked it. Would love to do that. Thanks for educating us on the difference between soupe de poissons and bouillabaisse-- I always like having more food knowledge.