June 07, 2022: Cassis. We turned the final corner of the hot, dusty, Calanques hike. We found the “hidden beach”. Though beautiful, it was already crowded and overrun!
“The climb speaks to our character, but the view, I think, to our souls.”
― Lori Lansens
Hiking the Calanques
One hike stood out from those I’d researched for Provence, in the south of France. The Calanques, near Cassis, are steep and narrow limestone coves on the Mediterranean, with brilliant blue waters beckoning a swim after a challenging trek. We plotted a daytrip from Aix-en-Provence (our base), put on the sunscreen, and were off. After morning coffee, of course!
We arrived mid-morning, and the sun was already baking the dusty trail. But it was easy going, with pretty views, and so we began. Then we climbed a bit. Then a bit more. Then we had to use our hands as well as feet. Finally, over a stony summit, we scrambled down to a shady carved through a canyon to the beach. To our surprise, it was a bit crowded, to say the least. After a brief rest, we trekked back up and over to our car. Oh, the blessing of air conditioning!
Kayaking the Calanques
Jean coveted a swim in those beautiful waters, so we returned two days later. This time, via kayak! On entering the calanque, we found it swarmed with thousands of purple jellyfish. Heedless, Jean risked a swim and earned a permanent souvenir (sting scar) on her arm.