France (Part 3/5) – Cassis & Cannes
18th May 2007
This morning I wanted to spend half the day in Cassis which is a small fishing town south east of Marseille. This area is renowned for the Colanques which is a stretch of coastline with some amazing rock formations and blue beaches. It would something similar to the Cinque Terre. My ankle wasn’t any better today but by adjusting my boots it helped a bit. It reduced the pressure on my ankle as I took a step so being a really nice sunny day I couldn’t let my ankles ruin it.
When I arrived in Cassis there were no buses in sight and the next one was in an hour. Seeing that Cassis was 3km away I just decided to talk it which took about 40 minutes. It is quite surreal in that I’m in the middle of nowhere and in a place where none of my friends have ever heard of but it’s reassuring to see other people walking the same path. The fields look like they are set for harvest while the homes are tucked away on the quiet hills not being disturbed.
I think I’ve found a gem of a location in the town of Cassis. It feels very cozy with its narrow streets and shops which snake around and up towards the casino. The tourists pack the pier and ports anticipating the arrival of the next boat so they can go see the Colanques. If they are not waiting then they are dining down by the port in one of several seafood restaurants. It reminds me a little like Riomaggiore but twice the size. The homes and roads are on a much lower gradient then that of Riomaggiore which is quite steep. The homes themselves I think look more aesthetic whereas the Riomaggiore homes look a bit more run down.
I really wanted to hike the 22km of the Colanques but I didn’t have 12 hours up my sleeve so that will be done in due course. The town does feel a little bit touristy but I don’t think it’s that much of a problem. The beach itself although small looks perfectly fit for a swim with its turquoise water.
The first thing I did when I arrived to Cassis was hop on the boat and did the tour of the Colanques. We went to 8 different creeks along the Colanques which were very beautiful. It was worth my 17 euros cruising along in the spacious boat. The best seats would be at the back of the boat but you would need to pack on the sunscreen. The front of the boat would be the worst because if a wave breaks, you will get soaked. If you have a camera then it’s pretty much destroyed. I however sat inside the cabin, with the window fully opened and no sun to worry about!
There were quite a number of hikers about on the Colanques trail. Few of them were seen sun baking on a cliff and others were seen resting up in their own quiet corner or rock that would be off the beaten track. There are even rock climbers in the area practicing there sport on various pillars and crags. Just hope they too brought a lot of sunscreen.
Whilst on board the boat I witnessed a chopper rescue of a hiker who had been injured on the trail. They must have hurt themselves severely to have the helicopters come and air lift them to medical attention. The hike would be quite demanding in the heat and also with little to no shade at all it makes it quite dangerous if there’s 22km of trail.
The Colanques is not open during summer between the months of September to August for partly this reason but also to avoid the risk of bush fires. If you were found in this area during this time, you would cop a sweet fine.
I decided not to walk back to the Cassis train station so I opted to take the minibus there. The driver was a maniac driving up those steep hills and flying through those corners. Luckily I arrived at the station in time and in one piece ready to board the train back to Marseille where a train to Nice was waiting.
It takes about 2.5hrs to go from Marseille to Nice. I arrived in Nice late afternoon and my plans were to drop off my bags at the hotel and then catch the 6pm train backwards to Cannes. I eventually arrived in Cannes at 9.15pm when I should have been there at 6.30pm. There were a host of problems that evening and it felt like the God’s didn’t want me to go to Cannes. I almost gave in.
The first problem was at the hotel. Apparently they overbooked and my name was singled out which meant I couldn’t stay the night. Instead they offered to send me to another hotel which I accepted and was discounted. The other hotel was quite shit but I didn’t mind it nor the price but what pissed me off was that they made me miss the scheduled train to Cannes.
The next train into Cannes as at 7.18pm and I clearly remember this time as the train was delayed 40mins, then 50mins and then 1hr. I thought it was a typo to be honest since I’ve never ever been delayed by a train for this long. The following day I found out that they were on bloody strike!
I eventually got sick and tired of waiting for that train so I boarded a train to Luxembourg which happened to go to Cannes as well with far fewer stops than the delayed one. When both had arrived simultaneously I had a dilemma in that the Luxembourg train itself got delayed and the late train didn’t appear to move at all. I did get on the delayed train but then seconds later I decided to hop on the Luxembourg train as it had fewer stops and would arrive faster. It was a splendid decision. The decision was helped by 2 English girls who happened to be going to Cannes also and they too were equally frustrated at the delay.
Cannes was jam packed with people celebrating the 60th year of the festival. Majority of people were in tuxedos and night gowns and it pretty much felt like an Oscar’s night. I basically walked up and down the promenade looking at the luxurious hotels, private beach parties, open air cinemas and I also wandered down to the marina to see all the expensive and ridiculously equipped yachts only for the rich and famous. It was amazing how classy and luxurious these yachts are. Oh how I only dream of owning one!
All the upcoming movies were showcased and printed on huge billboards all along the promenade and draped across hotels and other buildings. Some movies I recognized which is due for release were Transformers, the new Fantastic Four, Die Hard 4 and Monkey Magic.
The rest of the night was spent sipping Granita’s in front of the open air cinema before catching the midnight train back to Nice where I retired for the night and rested up the troubled ankles. I earlier tried to bandage the ankles but that made it worst as it put much more pressure on the ankles and walking on it was unbearable so I took them off. The idea was to reduce the pressure on the ankle and not applying more on to it.