Jul
9
2009

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Cassis Calanques

by Tyler

Since I was feeling fine, we decided to take advantage of our perfect weather and beautiful location on the Riviera to do some site-seeing. Setting the alarm for 8AM, the plan was to wander around town and go hiking in the famous Calanques, or Mediterranean fjords that stretch between Marseilles and Cassis.

We left camp on foot around 9, hoping to make our way to Calanque D'En Vau, about 5km from our campsite. We were waylaid in Cassis by a Patisserie serving the lightest, flakiest, richest, almond croissants I have ever had the pleasure of eating. While meandering around with our morning snack Tara spotted a Biscuiterie (a cookie shop) and we stopped to stare in awe at the vast array of unique cookies available for purchase. This very French concept of dedicating an entire shop to selling countless varieties of a single food is really starting to grow on me.

Tyler Barefoot in Cassis Cookie Shop Cookies

Curious to see what else was available in Cassis we continued our walk through the coastal town enjoying the brisk morning air. Being next to the sea, we were treated to cool winds, a refreshing change from the oppressive stagnant heat we experienced a little further north. Hundreds of yachts and fishing boats were moored in the sparkling water, and the port was lined with inviting cafes, restaurants, and ice cream shops.

Cassis Harbor Sailboats Cassis Window Cassis Square Well Dressed Required

Satisfied with our exploration we headed out of town in the direction of the "Calanque d'en Vau". Just outside the city we found a huge sign informing us that the Calanques were fermé (closed). In typical fashion I completely ignored the sign and convinced Tara to come with me. It was my hope that we could find a path in anyway. Sadly, when we reached the entrance to the trail we were thwarted by two park rangers/security guards. They stopped us and explained at length (to Tara) why we weren't allowed any further: fire.

I would've happily turned over any materials we had for lighting a fire (we had none) if the concern was that we would start one. As it turned out they were protecting us from being burned to death in a summer forest fire by the ocean. As an added bonus, if you were capable of taking responsibility for your own life and decided to venture in anyway there was a hefty €135 fine per person to help you reconsider.

Cassis From Afar

While they were explaining how to interpret the color coded danger system for the terrorists Calanques, several people appeared from the trail and walked by nonchalantly as though the guards weren't there. Apparently if you dock a boat in the Calanque the grave risk of fire is lowered to acceptable levels. When the guards had finished their speech we left and made our way to a trail we thought might lead to another Calanque, hoping for better luck.

Our second hike was steep, rocky and ultimately fruitless. The trail ended in a large outcropping which overlooked the Calanque we'd been turned away from earlier. Undeterred, I spotted several ways that we could climb down, and, in my estimation easily, make it to our intended inlet unnoticed. Tara wisely put her foot down and said no, citing our lack of food, water, fines, and my terminally optimistic view of distances and time. When I said "oh it's fine, I don't need water, you can have the whole bottle" she kindly reminded me that I'd just had a kidney stone, and maybe drinking more water instead of less would be a good idea.

Tyler Scouting Calanque

We left the Calanque behind us and returned to Cassis. I was a very dejected by our experience but Tara didn't seem to mind, instead leading us to the ocean near town where we could both do some cooling off. Avoiding the overcrowded sand beach we headed towards an outcropping of rocks where only a few people were sunning themselves.

After climbing around the rocks for a bit, we waded into the icy cold water for a few seconds before returning to the safety and warmth of the rocks. A short while later I spotted a large outcropping perfect for leaping into the sea. Tara ignored my prodding to jump and stayed to take pictures.

Tyler Jumping Sploosh!

I returned exhilarated and spent the next few minutes gently encouraging Tara to overcome her many fears and join me in jumping. It took a lot of patient coaxing (very similar to the coaxing that convinced her to come on this trip in the first place!) but as I knew she would love it, I didn't mind a bit :D

I finally convinced her to "just walk up and look" with me (hahaha). Then I held her hand and said I would count to five and we would jump. Everything would be fine! She laughingly refused several times but eventually agreed. We jumped in the air, hand in hand, and fell, splashing into the cold water! When we came to the surface, she was smiling.

After our jump, we were just about ready to go when I suggested that Tara go back up to the rock by herself so I could take pictures. She replied a very firm "no" stating that it was fun, but once was enough. Then she saw three macho dude-bros loitering on the rock nervously contemplating a jump. Without saying a word she scoffed, rolled her eyes, and marched straight up there to show them what was what. I was so proud.

Tara Preparing To Jump Tara Jumping Tara-- 'I did it!'

Triumphant, we headed back to our campsite to make dinner. When we realized it was only 2:30, I spent several hours working while Tara did laundry. The rest of the afternoon passed quickly and when it was dinner time I fired up the oven and baked a delicious no-longer frozen pizza and some homemade garlic bread that Tara had prepared. Dinner complete, we spent a nice evening watching Lost and preparing to leave in the morning.

Garlic Bread Tara's Flower Hour

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