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Aix-En-Provence and Cassis – Go There!

Well, this weekend marks our 11th wedding anniversary (yeah us!). Which means it has been a year since our 10th wedding anniversary and our glorious trip to France.  I’m going to relive it one more time today. Believe it or not, I haven’t told you everything about it yet. I’ve given a general overview and specifics about Paris, Burgundy, our cooking class in Beaune and wine tasting in Châteauneuf-du-Pape but we haven’t yet discussed Aix-En-Provence or Cassis. This might be a save the best for last situation. Maybe. I don’t know, they were all so good.

Quickest catch-up ever: my husband and I went to France a year ago for almost 2 full weeks. We stayed in 4 different cities, spending the last three nights in Aix-en-Provence (the “Aix” is pronounced “Ex”).

This was the perfect ending to our trip! I booked everything myself using a lot of online research (so you never really know what you are going to get). The last hotel we stayed in was the nicest hotel we stayed in, Le Pigonnet.

Le Pigonnet was only a short walk to the city of Aix but it really felt like a private resort. The hotel was beautiful, the staff was attentive, the room was fantastic and the grounds were both stunning and whimsical. There was a pool, delicious food, an outdoor bar with live music in the evening… I really can’t say enough about it. It was just what we needed!  I would highly recommend this hotel to everyone.

I really liked the city of Aix too. I went to the market by myself one day and I just walked around for hours ogling everything until I made my decisions. I bought a ridiculous amount of herbs de Provence to bring home, some amazing apricot and lavender jam that I still haven’t opened because I don’t want it to ever be gone and a few things for my hubby and I to have a little picnic lunch that afternoon including fruit, bread, cheese and sausage. Mmmm…

There were so many things I wanted to do while we were in the Provence region. I wanted to go to the little hilltop villages. I wanted to just drive around the beautiful countryside and get lost. I wanted to have an olive oil tasting, and do more wine tastings, and take another cooking class. But we couldn’t do everything and we really wanted time to relax so I picked one thing and I am 100% certain I picked the right thing!

The best part of Aix was our half-day tour to Cassis. If you EVER have the chance to take a tour of Cassis, take it! Call up Sarah at Discover Provence Tours and book the ½ day trip. We didn’t book a private tour but no one else signed up so it ended up being a private tour, bonus!

Cassis is a small fishing village on the Mediterranean. Sarah picked us up in Aix and drove us the 30-40 minutes, pointing out different landmarks along the way and answering any questions we had. She first took us to the top of a cliff overlooking Cassis. It was breathtaking. Even though I love all the photos we have, just know that the pictures don’t even do it justice! (And by the way, no filters on any of these pictures.  This is all natural beauty captured with an iPhone 5.) IMG_4316

Then, we went into town and she booked us on a small boat to take a tour of The Calanques (pronounced ka-lonks). Sarah is British so she translated everything the tour boat guide was saying (which was quite handy). IMG_2819

There really isn’t a translation for calanques but I think the best way to describe them is as coves or inlets surrounded by white rock cliffs. They provide a variety of current day adventures (climbing, hiking, etc.) and have their own fascinating history (including pirates) that I will let you research on your own. There is however one interesting fact that, as an American, I must share. As most of you probably know the Statue of Liberty was gifted to the United States from France. The base that the Statue of Liberty sits on is rock quarried from the calanques in Cassis. That amazes me, especially after seeing it in person!

The main thing about the calanques that will forever stick with me is their sheer beauty: the water was crystal clear, the fish bright blue and the rocks stark white. It really is something I will remember for the rest of my life.

After our lovely boat tour we headed back to Cassis. We stopped at the local beach for a couple of minutes and my husband took off his shoes and walked in the water. This is the first time he had ever seen the Mediterranean and he was not disappointed. In fact I think he said, “Next time, three days in Paris then straight to the Mediterranean.”IMG_2817

After that, the three of us had a delicious (and very fresh) seafood lunch that was perfectly complimented by the crisp local wine in a restaurant Sarah had booked. Then, we headed back to Aix for some relaxation by the pool.IMG_2841

It really was one of the best days of our entire trip. It probably has something to do with the fact that we had no idea what to expect so everything was an amazing surprise. And a half-day tour was perfect, just the right amount of time! If you ever find yourself in the south of France stop by Cassis for a few hours. You won’t be sorry!  Here are a few more photos incase I haven’t enticed you enough already…

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Bon Voyage

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