Thursday, October 26, 2023

France 2023 - Exploring Marseille and Cassis

Our hotel doesn’t have much for early breakfast, but we did spot a snack bar across the street yesterday so we walk over there and are the only customers at Snack Time by Lou Lou. The man working greets us warmly in French, then switches to patchy English when he hears our French skills; nevertheless, we have a lovely conversation. After a 7 euro meal of croissants, coffee, and a breakfast sandwich we get in the car and point south to Marseille, which is a mere thirty minute drive.

Our first stop is at the Basilica which is a church and complex built at the top of the highest point of the city, and is the most visited attraction. We should have left a bit earlier as it is packed with tourists, the most we’ve seen anywhere on this trip by far. This is the type of thing we really try to avoid when traveling, and we were expecting that by the end of October things would be quiet. But not here. We have a quick look around and snap some photos of the impressive vistas, then Ana picks up a religious figurine from the gift shop for her mom and we get the hell out of there.

Down in the old port we find a massive marina with hundreds of boats and thousands of tourists. The place does have a cool vibe but the sheer quantity of tourists is a little off-putting and we can’t really understand why there are so many here compared to the other places we’ve visited in France.

We walk the old town, have bagels and fries for lunch, take a short ferry ride across the marina, then drive east to the town of Cassis. The last thing on my checklist is to swim in the Mediterranean, and this is my final chance as we leave for Paris tomorrow.

Cassis itself is quite nice and the view is spectacular as it is nested at the base of steep cliffs and has a cute marina. Fortunately, I am in luck as there is also a rocky beach with dangerous looking breaking waves presenting just enough element of risk. Ana patiently waits for me while I navigate my way into the ocean between massive waves and get out there for a quick dip then almost get pummeled on my way back in. Despite this, I am very satisfied with my swim.

We finish our day once again in Aix at the Irish Pub and I do something I never do while traveling – order the same dish twice. It is, of course, excellent and Ana’s fish in chips are equally good. For this last night in the south we take our time, watch people, watch some of the soccer on the pub tv, talk about our trip and enjoy these last moments in a country we’ve really fallen in love with.

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