Swimming in the Calanques

So it is interesting story time this week. Back in May/June 2017, I was on a trip to Portugal and France with my (ex) significant other at the time for my 25th birthday. We spent 3 days in Marseille and Aix-en-Provence to end the trip before returning to Vancouver (I often fly out of Vancouver because it can be a significantly cheaper plane ticket). After wandering around Marseille and going to the Hard Rock to get a T-Shirt (my SO collected the shirts), I got an unsolicited (but appreciated) suggestion to visit the Calanques.

The Calanques are located between Marseille and the small town of Cassis, notable for their white, limestone cliffs and clear, blue bays. The one that was suggested to me was Calanque Sugiton, one of the more popular and the one I could reach by bus and then eventually access the water after descending from the cliffs up above. This would require a moderate walk of 1-2 km from the bus, through the woods (on a paved path) and slowly decending down to the water. Needless to say, it was not a huge undertaking (and I saw families with children when I eventually went). So no big deal, right? Nope. My SO didn’t like any element of hiking, even to go on a short adventure down a paved path to go visit something that is one of the things to see on Côte d’Azur.

Part of my sense of adventure is to push the limits a bit. Nothing too crazy, though. So I decided to go on this adventure alone. I wanted to watch the sunset at the Calanques and I wasn’t going to let anything hold me back. At the time, my SO wanted to do some shopping, so it worked out perfectly. I’d go hiking down to the beach and he would go shopping. Great. We had a plan.

I took the bus as instructed by the guy at the Hard Rock and since I speak French, I had no issue navigating to where I needed to go. Once I got off the bus, I was right in the middle of nowhere. I began to walk along the path through some trees to get to the beach. After about 1 km, the trees cleared to reveal limestone cliffs and a rugged coastline where I can see a vast expanse of the Mediterranean Ocean. There, the path split into three: one down to the water, one to continue walking along the cliffs and one to take me up a bit to a vantage lookout point. As the sun was going to set, I decided to look at the vantage point before quickly going 1km more down to the water.

calanque sugiton (beach). marseille, france. june 2017.

Once I got the pictures, I needed, I headed down to the water. It seemed I was the only one going down to the water, as many others were making the slow journey up the hill. Once I got down to the water, it was completely deserted. Sweet. I had the place to myself. And my was it gorgeous. The beach was sandy, with some rocks and the water contained more rocks than sand. So once I climbed down from the rocks on to the sand, I dropped my bag and took off my shirt and ran into the water.

BRRRR! It was cold. Il fait froid. But, I was able to warm up quickly by flailing around the water a bit and trying not to slip on the round rocks that were putting pressure on the bottom of my feet. An idea popped into my head: There was no one around and this was France, land of nude beaches. I was like, this seems like a good opportunity as any to enjoy the beach and go for a swim. So I threw my swim shorts to the shore and continued to swim further, enjoying the cool Mediterranean water. No, this story is not going to lead to embarrassment or anything else. It was pure bliss and a wonderful experience. No one else showed up and after about 20 minutes in the water, the sun really started to set and I realized I should make my way back to Marseille.

calanque sugiton. marseille, france. june 2017. 

I get my clothes on and before I get back to the path to return to the bus stop, I climbed on a few rocks to take my classic feet photos with my shoes on. I also sat for a bit to dry off as I had the towel wrapped around me. There are so many elements to this experience I could not capture on my camera and one I wish I was able to share with my significant other. It is the adventures that we take together that make moments like this even more cherishable then looking at the photos I took. To watch the sunset from a truly magical place can be the little secret between me and that special someone. Not everything needs to be captured on camera.


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