When: May 2016
Where: Cassis, France
Stayed: Château de Cassis
A colorful fishing town just below Marseille, Cassis is all sorts of wonderful. It is home to one of the tallest sea cliffs in Europe (Cap Canaille), plenty of rosé, and of course, the brilliantly blue calanques.
Driving towards the village, we decided to brave the Route des Crêtes for another hairpin adventure. The views to – and from – Cap Canaille were magnificent, and it was crazy watching the motorcyclists speed by. If we had another day, we would have loved to hike the trail up, and visit La Ciotat, but the drive was a beautiful alternative.
In the afternoon, we checked into a 13th century fortress turned hotel, the Château de Cassis. As a fortress would, it sits atop the town, providing the most incredible views of the port and the Plage de la Grande Mer. We found our stay to be charming and sweet, but it was much more B&B than luxury hotel. Given the rate, we had assumed it would be much more the latter, which is not to say our experience was anything less than lovely. But just something to consider if you are looking for a luxury hotel experience.
We loved exploring the village and the port, and all of its colorful alleys. After wandering a bit, we made our way to the Plage de Bestouan, picking up a handwoven tote, local wine and handmade espadrilles along the way. The beach was filled with sunbathers, and we were thrilled to join them on the rocky shore. Nothing better than the sea.
The next day, we had planned to explore the calanques by boat, but our reservation was cancelled due to weather. The wind (or le mistral), can make the water way too choppy for the tiny rental boats, so we decided to hike them instead. So happy we ended up going this route, as it is the most incredibly hike I’ve ever done! We started at Calanque de Port-Miou, continued on to Calanque de Port Pin, and then spent the entire afternoon picnicking and swimming at Calanque d’en Vau. (An important tip is to bring sneakers or hiking boots, as the trail is very rocky and hilly. I had only my sandals, and everyone who saw me would stare and look alarmed by “ses chaussures!” Crazy Americana!
We didn’t plan any meals in advance, and chose restaurants and cafes at random. I would recommend eating at least one meal by the water, and another within the winding alleys. Best of both worlds! The evening we ate at L’Oustau de la Mar was a favorite. Live music played from a few doors down, and a huge thunderstorm rolled in, with the rain pattering on the awning above, and the air smelling of sweet summer. It was a perfect night.
Until next time, Cassis!