Les Calanques

"Les Calanques" refers to the rugged coastline within 30 km either side of Marseilles on the south coast of France. The most famous Calanques are those to the east of Marseilles, such as the picturesque village called Cassis. We stayed on the west side. We were actually quite disappointed initially by the house that we had rented (photo) as we had expected something much more isolated.

Also, the nearby beach was a pebble beach, with quite a lot of tar (these Calanques are sandwiched between the huge port of Marseilles and the oil refineries of Fos sur Mer). But after a couple of days we had come to appreciate the sunny weather - it would have been much too hot had it not been for the cool sea breeze. The interior of the house was crude rather than rustic but we spent much of our time on the terrace, drinking up the Mediterranean atmosphere (the deafening "cigale" crickets had a lot to do with that).

Catherine's brother Claude, his wife Danielle and their daughter Claire (photo) joined us in the Calanques.

Right: Catherine!

Francoise and her husband, friends of Claude and Danielle, invited us for lunch at an old barn now used for wedding receptions. Thank you, Francoise! Francoise - soooo pretty!

Danielle (left) is Catherine's sister-in-law.

Below left: we can't remember whether this is Aix or Arles - it's probably Aix. Both towns have quaint old centers but Arles seems to be the more interesting of the two. It even has a roman amphitheater - you can almost hear the echoes of the crowds as they cheer on their favorite gladiators.

Below right: One of a thousands of ancient sculptures, this one in Aix cathedral.

This little dog, sitting near us as we ate lunch in a square in Arles, had a very strange reaction to Catherine. Each time it looked at her it would start to shake and go wide-eyed... now what could be the reason??

After Les Calanques we drove north to stay in an old mill near Bagnoles in Provence. The mill was called the Moulin d'Auzigue and it was beautiful...