For me, it wasn’t a contest. The seaside town of Cassis and the calanques were my favorite part of the trip in Provence. In English, the word that comes closest to calanque is an inlet. However, nobody refers to them as such and simply uses the French word calanque when it comes to describing the 20 kilometer stretch of coast between Marseille and Cassis. Puncturing the coast at random intervals, these inlets are characterized by steep vertical limestone cliffs and crystal clear water (which sadly, is not as pristine looking as it once was and has suffered the effects of pollution due to the rise of boaters in the summer). In fact, Cassis is such a popular vacation destination that it won the 2012 Travelers’ Choice Award on Tripadvisor in the beach category.
Getting to Cassis proved to be a rough wake up call. It was about an hour and a half drive from Maillane, where we were staying. We knew if we left too late in the day, the place would be crowded and there was a chance we wouldn’t be able to visit the calanques by boat, which was the main reason we were heading there in the first place. We made the decision to leave at 6:30 AM. To make matters worse, my sister joined us the second week and the morning we left for Cassis was the day after she arrived in Provence. She was a pretty good sport about the whole thing, despite suffering a 6 hour jet lag.
Despite the very early start, once we arrived in downtown Cassis to buy tickets for our calanque boat tour, the sight of the charming little harbor and its colorful boats against the backdrop of a brilliant blue sky instantly put all of us in a good mood.
We were able to get our tickets for a tour of 3 calanques. If you would like more in depth coverage of the calanques, including the different ways you can visit them, you can click here.
I think what surprised me most about the calanques, is that some (rich) people with huge yachts will sometimes spend all weekend out in the calanques, surrounded by natural beauty. You will notice in a lot of the pictures there are many boats anchored. Those are the calanque weekenders. One day, when I hit the jackpot (yeah, right), I will do the same.
In this picture, there seem to be the remnants of some kind of building, like a fortress or a castle.
No wonder it was voted one of the top travel destinations on Tripadvisor.