2:40 PM Text message from Mom:
Now they are calling for a snow storm on Tuesday!! I may finally get a snow day off from school! Friday was just some flurries!
2:41 PM Reply:
That’s crazy! Meanwhile, it’s 71 here and we’re heading to the beach…
Kelsey and I met at the line 19 bus stop at 3:20 and ten minutes later we were off on our weekend excursion. On the program: A hike through Les Goudes, known as “le bout du monde” to the marseillais: the end of the world. An area along the southern coast of the city of Marseille, Les Goudes are right at the entrance to one of France’s National Parks, Le Parc National des Calanques.
On our very crowded 45 minute bus ride past a stretch of commercial beaches filled with sun bathers, the 15 minute wait for a second bus, and 7 minute drive careening around winding coastal roads, we watched as the buildings and landscape changed shape around us. Where tall apartment buildings were, we now saw modest, fishing dwellings. The long sandy beach was now a stretch of rocky cliffs going as far as the eye could see.
These were the calanques, a landform so specific to this region that it has no English name. Wikipedia says,
A calanque (from the Corsican and Occitan words of pre-Indo-European origin calanca (plural calanche in Corsican, calancas in Occitan) with meaning “inlet”) is a narrow, steep-walled inlet that is developed in limestone, dolomite, or other carbonate strata and found along the Mediterranean coast.
This was my second time visiting the calanques, and both times the most frequent phrase out of my mouth was, “Where are we?!” One one side, the turquoise blue of the Mediterranean stretches tranquilly to the horizon. On the other, barren rocky masses rise in oddly formed shapes, truly giving the impression of being another planet entirely.
We walked along the path for almost exactly one hour. It was truly the perfect day for a hike. The weather in Marseille has been getting warmer and warmer for weeks, but this was the first day that truly felt like spring. It wasn’t just the sun that warmed our faces, but even the air was warm. The light sea breeze was a relief.
As the sun began to set, we reached our destination: a tiny hidden pebble beach complete with a bar. Though we didn’t patronize the bar, we wondered about its employees… How do they get to work every day?! Do they walk the uneven and sometimes treacherous one hour path we just followed every morning? Is there a secret service road that we don’t know about? Do they arrive by boat? Or maybe they simply live here…
After resting and enjoying the sounds of the waves and seagulls, we headed back with the sun setting in front of us, and the moon rising behind.
I hope that my mom gets a snow day, but 5,300 miles away, I am hoping for more days like today! ❂
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