Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Exploring Cassis

Hello everyone,

About 3 hours drive from Avignon, you will find Cassis; a picture perfect seaport city that looks more like one of the coastal Italian cities than anything we had seen in France up until that point.

Much thanks to a still-jet-lagged Z, we woke up super early and started our drive toward Cassis, leaving Avignon and its inhabitants peacefully sleeping. Anyone who knows Z knows that he's not a morning person, so it was so funny to see him awake before the sunrise for most of our trip in Europe haha

At least we got to see this amazing silhouette of beautiful Avignon as we left! ;)

A little tip for you if you visit south of France: We would highly recommend renting a car. Even though the public transit in France is pretty good and the trains are pretty awesome, if you want to go exploring and you are not traveling alone, we found that it's actually more affordable to rent a car. This also gives you much more flexibility in determining your itinerary in terms of when and where to go exploring.

The only thing that we found to be a bit of a hassle was parking. We would definitely recommend parking outside of the city since the driving in old Avignon was... death.  This was a slightly different experience than the one in Nimes because there were a lot of friendly locals willing to help you out in the incredibly confusing and narrow streets.  However, at one point the streets were so narrow that we had to fold in our sideview mirrors in order to fit through! I was driving this time, and it was definitely one of the more stressful driving experiences of my life haha

So, we would highly recommend parking at the Parking de l'ile de Piot in Avignon. It is free, there's a shuttle that runs you from the parking lot to old Avignon, and we had no problems parking there throughout our time in Avignon.  Also, the walk back to old Avignon from the parking lot is not very long, and quite pleasant.  =)

Anyway, once you get to your car at the parking lot, you can hop in it and drive a few hours to Cassis!

Though we loved exploring the cities, we are really nature folk at heart. So, we jumped at the first chance we had to go be in nature!  Our first stop? The Calanques!
To be honest, it's kind of hard to figure out how to get there.  Luckily, we met a friendly French couple who were also trying to find a way in, and we explored together until we (they) figured out how to get to our hike.  
The best way to get to the calanques is to park your car at almost where the road ends, and just walk towards the calanques using your map! 

I know it may sound a bit complicated, but I assure you, it's really not too bad, and the hike is totally worth it. Also, even when you go during the off-season like us, you will find fellow explorers that you can team up with, and that always makes the search for the entrance more fun  ;)

After hiking through a bit of rocky terrain, you will find this amazing hidden cove.

The day was a bit overcast, so the photos don't do the amazing color of this water justice...  but this place... So beautiful.  

I was hoping to live out my mermaid dreams here since I couldn't get my fix at Pont du Gard (don't those rocks look so perfect for mermaiding?), but sadly the weather was cold, the water was again, freezing. After finding the water too cold in Pont du Gard and here, I was starting to realize that May was probably not the time to visit South of France to live out any mermaid dreams haha But I'm sure in August or September, this place would be perfect for all of the mermaiding!

I did dip my toes in though  ;)

Z couldn't even get himself to do the toe dip =p

Apparently, there are more trails to be explored after the little cove, but we were mainly dressed for a dip, not a full blown hike, so we bid adieu to our new-found French friends and came back into the city.

All of the charming and colorful buildings, as well as the cobblestone streets, are just begging you to come be lost here...  

We thoroughly enjoyed our aimless wanderings until a restaurant caught our eyes, and poked our head in for a bite of their seafood feast!

Here, you see again the fries being served with everything haha

The mussels were so fresh and delicious, and the fish dish was pretty good as well!  The waterfront is literally lined with restaurants serving very similar dishes (mussels everywhere!), so I'm sure you can't go wrong =) Just pick one with the view that you like the best (or the one with the most amount of people), settle in, and dig in!

Of course, after your seafood feast, you must go get some gelato  ;)

or a number of other sweet delicacies Cassis has to offer...

Gelato in hand, we wandered around the city some more, exploring and soaking in the beauty of this quaint little coastal city. Agreeing that we would definitely like to return to Cassis on our next trip to South of France, we reluctantly left Cassis and made our way back to our home base in Avignon.

Cassis is definitely worth a visit if you like being in the nature (hiking and swimming when it's warm) and exploring charming coastal cities! I wouldn't necessarily start from Avignon because it is a bit far (and French tolls are no joke!), but it's much closer if you want to have your home base in Aix-en-Provence or Marseille!

Thanks for stopping by, and have a wonderful week!

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