I went on a short break to Cassis, a small town close to the big city of Marseilles. Cassis is a charming little town with a great splendour of beaches and mouth-watering gastronomy. The only little proviso I would have that it is choke full of tourists. But that is not surprising, it really is a jewel and as such it is only natural that it would attract such an abundance of visitors.
I only spent a day in Cassis, so did not get to check out the night life (which is of little interest to me as I grow older and become more enamoured of the amenities I have gathered around me at home). Basically, my day (and my lovely wife’s, who has to be credited with this gorgeous trip) consisted of lounging around on a beach and going for a dip in the Mediterranean sea, tasting some excellent food and taking a boat trip to check out some of the Calanques between Cassis and Marseille.
The water was absolutely gorgeous! A blue and turquoise so clear that you could clearly see the fish feeding at the bottom, and beaches of sandy white that just simply seduced you into a reverie of absolute calm and peace. Boats anchored next to the steep cliffs of the Calanques while their owners sunned themselves on the decks, kayakers paddled their way on the water admiring the view and dwarfed by the great rocks, and others simply lying on their towels spread across the beach roasting their bodies and occasionally plunging themselves in the inviting, pristine waters to cool their orange-red bodies down.
Let me now wax a little less lyrical and tell you about the Calanques themselves (basically let me be technically boring now).
Calanques are a geologic formation usually consisting of limestone and form a deep valley with steep sides that are in part submerged under water. Soil on these huge formations is almost non-existent and plants basically anchor themselves in the crevices and cracks in the rock. A rather impressive tenacity to life when one thinks about it.
The Calanques between Marseille and Cassis are popular amongst tourists and locals alike, for the spectacular views they offer from the several vantage points available. Many hikers roam the area and the cliffs are often used as training for rock climbers. A word of caution, if you plan on indulging in any such activity (which sounds a bit too strenuous and healthy for someone of my ilk), make sure to carry plenty of water, as fresh water sources are practically non-existent and the hot sun (though great for toasting your muscles to a honey colour) will cause dehydration.
The best time to visit Calanques is probably March through May, when temperatures are still quite cool and precipitation is rare. And if you simply want to take it easy and relax while taking in the wondrous natural beauty of the area, boat tours are available from Marseille or Cassis.
Absolutely, fabulously lovely and worth spending a few moments contemplating the arrogance of humanity in the insistence of indiscriminately destroying the wondrous and natural beauty in some areas of the world that this planet of ours has to offer rather than working around it and making all efforts to preserve it.
Photo credits: Abdul Sami Haqqani.