It's a "free day" in Cassis today. We grab a quick breakfast in the hotel La Rade:
At breakfast, we bump into Dina and Tony (who has the day off). We invite them to join us on a hike to the calanques (narrow inlets cut into the nearby limestone cliffs). Dina takes us up on it.
We meet Joan to walk down to the grocery store. We need to pick up water and lunch fixings to bring with us. Eventually, we all join up (Brig, me, Dina, Joan, Phil) to start the hike. First, we pass Cassis' beach/cove, in which we find a little "train" of toy "sailboats" being dragged around by a bigger boat. The port is shimmering with reflected sunlight. After a false start that takes us to a dead end on the wrong ridge above the first of the three calanques, we get on the track. The trails are mostly well marked, and consist of limestone steps or gravel trails.
The calanques are really beautiful. We expend considerable energy getting up and down the hills and ridges that form the calanques. The views are impressive, and worth the effort. (Boat trips to the calanques are popular and inexpensive, but Brig and I aren't anxious to experience the ocean ride and the possible motion sickness we often suffer.)
As we climb up toward the third calanque, who should we meet but Kit and Carol? They join us for lunch at the top of the ridge above the third calanque, we sit and eat our lunches while appreciating the views..
Brig has been having trouble keeping her greetings straight. A fellow hiker passes by, and Brig wishes him "Bon soir!". Good evening?!
Happily, the promised return of the Mistral has not materialized. It's sunny, and the breeze is balmy. So much for Kristen's theory that Mistrals tend to last for 3-day multiples. This one supposedly started about a day ago.
Joan and Phil choose to continue their trek down to the third calanque, while the rest of us turn back towards Cassis.
After a clothes change and bathroom break, We go over to the laundromat in order to check our temporary Yahoo email account. We have a couple of messages to check on, and to send. According to Kristen, the "fastest" computer is the center one. Unfortunately, the keyboard is significantly different from a U.S. English keyboard. Using this keyboard, we are able to deal with responding to the email -- but not without developing a headache. There are several keys that have moved around, most notably "a", "m", "w". period, comma, and semicolon. We read the messages, and carefully respond to one or two.
On the way back to the hotel, we stop at a glacier (a store that sells ice cream - la glace) While trying to decide which ones to sample, a friendly Brit strongly recommends the mango, and offers to let Brig try his brand new cone. She does, and we thank him. We end up choosing Fruit de Passion et Pamplemousse (passionfruit and grapefruit). Both of us enjoy both flavors, as we return to the hotel in a leisurely manner. Brig is meeting Dina for a trip to the pharmacy, to pick out a good shampoo. I sit out on the hotel's pool deck, reading a book, "Last Man on the Moon", by Eugene Cernan. Pat is also out here, taking dips in the pool. I am inspired by this, and change into my swimsuit. This water is COLD. I do one lap, and haul out, to dry off, warm up, and continue reading.
After a shower and a change of clothing, we see about getting reservations for bouillabaise at La Bonaparte. Sorry, not enough fish to make a Bouillabase for you this evening -- we barely have enough for all the others who want it. Je suis desolé! Come back tomorrow!
While searching for an alternative, we come across Molly & Rob & Judy & Jerry, getting ready to order at a nearby restaurant. They're looking for some menu translations, so I try to help out...
Next, we hunt for any restaurant recommended by the Rick Steves book. They're either closed, or the cuisine isn't to our liking. Eventually, we settle on La Voute for dinner.
I choose a €23.00 menu, and Brig tries the €17.00 menu.
We start by sharing a Kir.
Brigid starts with the Soupe de Poisson (fish stock with croutons on which you spread a strong, garlic spread called rouille. The broth is rich and delicious. With the soaked croutons and rouille, it is absolutely heavenly. You know, I think that this is the best part of bouillabaise, anyway! And much less expensive.
I selected a cassoulet as my starter, but the waitress brings something else I wanted, instead. It's marinated, cooked (and still warm) octopus vinegrette. Tender and delicious. Yum!
For the main course, I select Loup Grillée (plain, grilled sea-wolf) that has been cooked to perfection, and served with tomatoes provencal (deeelicious!), scalloped potatoes, and cooked zucchini coins with herbs and pepper. Also very good.
Brigid has a Poisson en Papillote (fish in a paper -- but in this case, they used aluminum foil). It's packed with three types of fish, and veggies (including anise bulb, which Brigid usually avoids, but in this case she enjoys it!). The juice at the bottom of the foil is heavenly when soaked up with the wonderful baguette slices.
For dessert, I have flan du maison. It's plain, but light and good. Brigid has the tart tatin, and enjoys it better than the one at La Paillote yesterday. It's much less sweet.
We are VERY happy with our choice of restaurant and the food.
By sitting in the outdoor portion of the cafe, we get slightly chilled with the wind that picks up, but Brigid gets to watch all the little doggies coming and going, including one particularly large hound (or small horse?) parked at a nearby table.
Am I pooped! Bon nuit.