Sunday, October 21, 2012

Route des Crêtes

Bandol stretching up from the harbor
Bandol is a popular wine-growing area of France.  The harbor is full of boats—sail- and motor-powered and some for fishing for profit.  We’ve visited Bandol in the past and enjoyed it.  On a good day, the view is sparkling.  On a bad weather day, it may not be worth the trip.  This time, the sky was cloudy and rain was promised, but when the sky began to brighten, we decided to head to the sea.   We drove through Cavaillon to the Péage (toll road) to take advantage of the fastest route to Bandol. 

Bandol Merry-Go-Round
We arrived to find a market, which in retrospect, we could have avoided.  But we parked at the marina and walked back along the sidewalk to find a suitable place to eat.  Lunch was not our best, but we were sated for further walking.  We explored the quai admiring the boats, the merry-go-round, and the wonderful view of the bay. 

Then to La Ciotat along a route that was both coastal and inland.  Not too far.  On one end of La Ciotat’s bay, the port with huge cranes that can load and off-load shipping materials.  It seems an unlikely place for such large pieces of machinery, but otherwise, La Ciotat has a lovely beach and restaurants along the bay.    

Looking down toward Cassis

Quayside in Cassis

From La Ciotat, we drove along the red cliffs of Cap Canaille on le Route des Crêtes, a road that clung to the side of the mountain striking fear into the hearts of both passengers and driver.  Cassis and La Ciotat were both Greek colonies and later Roman towns where they built their villas.  They’re located are on opposite sides of a peninsula—Cassis on the Marseille side and La Ciotat on the Bandol side.  There were guard rails here and there, but in no great number.  In several spots, approaching a car from the other direction, I simply stopped and waited.  I am confident that when the Greeks traveled that road, they weren’t zooming along in a 110 horsepower steel vehicle on rubber wheels.  The drive was dicey and while the views were stunning, the end couldn’t have come quickly enough for me. 

Rte. des Crete behind
Cassis has been a draw to artists and vacationers alike.  Sea urchins are the local specialty, and the whole array of Mediterranean seafood is available at restaurants and at the local fish market.  Cassis was a trading port until its fleet was destroyed by the Germans in WW II.  There are three beaches, including a very nice beach where the town center meets the sea.  Parking is a challenge, but it's the MEDITERRANEAN, for crying out loud!!!

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