South of France
South of France – Exploring the Mediterranean
The South of France incorporates a variety of scenic explorations. Roman built cities, medieval hilltop villages, sumptuous valleys and even spectacular mountains are just the beginning of what you can explore.
One hour south, of what I call the central core of Provence (around L’Isle sur la Sorgue), is the Mediterranean. To truly explore all the facets of the South of France, I highly suggest at least one day along the Mediterranean.
There are different ways to explore the seaside. I often take people to Cassis for a tour of the fishing port and village. We explore the giant limestone inlets (Calanques), sample the renowned white wine of Cassis and, of course, indulge in a seafood lunch along the port with a view of Cap Canaille (the largest sea cliff in France). Historical anecdotes, endless colors and mesmerizing views never leave a visitor without complete satisfaction – guaranteed 🙂
Marseille is another base for discovering the Mediterranean. Whether by boat or by land, there is a lot at your fingertips from this lively and picturesque port town. Make a trip to the Frioul archipelago (four islands just off the shoreline of Marseille including the famous Chateau d’If in Alxendras Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo). You may also want to hike down into a Calanque for a few hours on a hidden beach only accessible by foot. For more planning on how to explore Marseille, contact toctocMarseille.
Other than Cassis and Marseille, you can easily access the Mediterranean from the Côte Bleue. This shoreline is west of Marseille and leads you to the Camargue Region (towards Spain). While this is not part of the National Calanque Park, there are a few Calanques to discover. This area offers a unique perspective of Marseille as you find yourself opposite of the city with a view of the ferries and cruise boats coming and going.
The hiking trail on the Cote Bleue (Sentier des Douaniers) sits right along the shoreline cliffs and often dips down closer to the water where you can have one of the best picnics in the South of France on a secluded beach. There is also a train (Train de la Côte Bleue) that runs from Marseille to Miramas providing easy (and very picturesque) travel from one end to the other. This is a great asset in order to hike the whole trail without having to retrace your steps.
Whether exploring the South of France by land or by boat, you won’t be disappointed. My only advice is to do it off-season, especially when venturing along the seaside as traffic can be a nightmare. Not only are the blues of the skies and sea accentuated without the heat of summer, the openness of the land without the commotion of people and cars gives you a wonderful feeling of freedom in one of the most beautiful places on earth.