-the world as I see it
“How?” I asked myself for the umpteenth time, “How could I have not heard of Cassis before?”
“ How on earth is neighbouring Marseille more famous than this piece of exquisite land perched on the Mediterranean sea?”
“How do the locals manage to get off their hind quarters and go to work or study?”
How? How? How???
Welcome to Cassis- this place has got to be one of the world’s most underrated tourist attractions and has rightfully earned one of the top positions in my list of best holiday destinations. Cassis – the land of vines and pines- is all about cliffs and coves and clear blue water. It is also a great place for geology enthusiasts and bird watchers (no pun intended 😛 ) . I got to Cassis from Marseille by train in less than half an hour but it took me about 45 minutes to walk up to the city centre from the train station. The walk is nice as you get to pass by vineyards and there is this pleasant rustic charm about the whole place. If you want to skip the walk and get to the city centre faster, you can take the bus from the train station.
As you inch closer to the city you can spot the Chateau de Cassis dominating the view ahead. Initially built for defence purposes, the chateau is now privately owned and functions as a hotel. We headed up to the tourism office to pick up a map and enquire about trekking routes in the Calanques nearby. The weather wasn’t the best and the dull grey sky kept mocking us constantly that we had chosen the wrong day to make this trip. We looked around and saw children happily skating in the artificial rink that had been mounted near the main square while locals and tourists lounged in cafes around the port, engaged in lively banter. What the heck, it was Christmas eve, this was not a time to mope around. The place was still breath-taking and I was game for a good hike even if there was a downpour awaiting. As it was already mid-day, we decided to proceed towards the Calanques. Before you reach the Calanques, you have the option of walking around the Sentier du Petit Prince – the path of the little Prince- but we skipped it as we preferred to spend more time at the Calanques.
The Calanques are a geological formation of carbonate strata found along the Mediterranean coast between Marseille and Cassis. To put it in simple terms, they are these craggy whitish cliffs with green vegetation peeking out from here and there. The Calanques near Cassis are supposed to be more scenic than the ones at Marseille. You can either go trekking along the various trails laid out or you could visit the Calanques by boat. There are three Calanques at Cassis – Port Miou, Port Pin and Port enVau in ascending order of distance as well as beauty. Due to lack of time, we ended up seeing only the first two Calanques. At Port Pin, we walked down to the beach and spent some time at the cove. The locales are fantastic and are ideal postcard material. Take a look at the pictures I took at different spots along the trail. Check out Cap Canaille, an ochre-coloured, sea-facing cliff which is another great trekking spot in Cassis.
At about 4 pm, we made our way back to the city centre and sat facing the lighthouse at the harbour, watching the waves crash into the rocks. Once it got dark, we went for a stroll around the city. The Christmas lights were up but there were very few people out on the streets as everyone was indoors, getting ready for Christmas- cooking feasts, wrapping presents, spending quality time with friends and family.
I had a wonderful time at Cassis and I couldn’t have imagined a better way to spend my Christmas eve away from home. I picked up a postcard from one of the shops and penned a Christmas greeting to my family.