The MEDITERRANEAN SEA
When we talk about the South of France, what's the first thing we think of? The MEDITERRANEAN SEA! (and the sun of course – it's all part of the package).
Yes indeed, we simply cannot live without it here… If we're in Paris, the first thing we say is "Oh I miss the sea"! And what could be more normal? We spend our lives there, it's our breath of fresh air, it cradles us, makes us dream, makes us voyage and makes our postcards so pretty ☺ (after all, a jumping dolphin is better than a cow wearing glasses, no?)
Here, we're going to unveil some of the best places to enjoy the sea and what you can do there (well maybe not everything, otherwise we'd need to write a whole book):
If you want to bathe in turquoise waters (no need to go far, it's almost like Tahiti here – yes, alright, almost…) and revel in a wild, exotic atmosphere, head to the 'Calanques' fjords. Just for your information, the word 'calanque' comes from 'calanco', a Provencal word meaning 'steep'. And believe me, the fjords are steep.
There are several 'calanques'. You can opt for En-Vau, a stunning cove also nicknamed the 'Lover's Fjord' (Calanque des Amoureux), surrounded by cliffs. You'll need to get there early though as it gets very busy. There's a short walk, then you arrive in paradise.
There's also Sormiou, a 'calanque' famed for its little fishermen's cottages and Morgiou, with its fishing harbour, beach and restaurant.
And of course, there are the famous 'Calanques de Cassis'. As there are lots of tourists there in summer, we recommend visiting outside peak season (June or September).
Then there are the breathtaking seascapes of the 'Côte Bleue' coast. Everyone has their fave spot, people come here to sunbathe, eat sea urchins, or go snorkelling – it's just gorgeous.
We often go to Carro (we have a secret spot there, but we're keeping it to ourselves :-)
And then there are the 'calanques' around La Ciotat, like Mugel with its pebble beach, sheltered by Bec de l’Aigle cliff.
If you're looking for something even wilder, Beauduc beach in Arles is simply awe-inspiring. While you're visiting Camargue, you can also enjoy the beaches at Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer.
If you're a water sports lover, the Med is your temple, with scuba diving in Cassis, kitesurfing in Martigues, windsurfing on the Côte Bleue coast, surfing, stand-up paddle boarding in La Ciotat, sailing, kayaking in the fjords, canoeing in Marseille, catamaran in Camargue, wakeboarding and waterskiing.
Alternatively, you can opt for the national sport: the siesta!
The sea is all about sundowners too. Take a nice bottle of rosé, some ice, oysters, prawns, bread, butter, saucisson and you really are the master of the universe.
It's also the perfect place to hang out. You can chat and joke with your friends and family, let your fishing rod trail in the water to try and catch a few fish to grill and, if it gets too hot, simply jump in for a swim. How's that for the good life?!
We also owe lots of local celebrations to the Med: our favourite is the Mussel Fair in Carro (in fact it's called the Sea Fair (Fête de la Mer), but we prefer mussel because you eat mussels there). It's a sort of large village fête where everyone gets together and has a laugh. There's a great atmosphere, you go there to have fun, party and eat to your heart's content... What more could you ask? You dance until 1 a.m., get your photo taken at the Polaroid stand, you visit all the attractions and – in short - have a great time!
If you're visiting between January and March, don't miss the local sea urchin and sardine banquets ('oursinades' and 'sardinades'). A feast fit for a king!
Then there's the Marseille-Provence grand maritime parade with its magnificent boats in September, the Sea Festival in Cassis in June and the Floating Festival that transforms Plage de Corbières beach into a giant concert hall (and let's face it, the sea is even more impressive than a concert hall), when you can watch musicians playing their piano on the waves as you sit on the beach with your feet in the water!
The sea is part of our everyday lives and without it, the South of France just wouldn't be our little paradise! To wind up, here's a little playlist for you to enjoy while you're chilling ☺