On my first day in Provence I took a drive down to the little seaside town of Cassis. We arrived late afternoon and I think we were pretty lucky to find parking. However, it seemed like the bulk of tourists were on their way out so before long it wasn’t too crowded.
The drive to this spot, just outside of Cassis, was pretty difficult. The roads were really tight and I was adjusting to driving a manual transmission again for the first time in a few years. At one point, I was driving up a steep hill and a car came round the corner causing me to stall the car. The problem was I also rolled back about 2 yards. I have no idea how I avoided hitting the car behind me.
This is a calanque. It is a narrow-steep walled inlet carved into the limestone rock. When we got there, I had no idea it was going to be full of sailboats like this!
During the UEFA Euros, I was stationed with family and friends just outside Aix-en-Provence. I arrived later than most so when I drove up to the house in my very sharp looking, rented Audi A4, after nervously snaking my way up the steep, tight, windy driveway, I was greeted by people waving from up on the roof. Taking a moment to compose myself and hide the terror I had just gone through, I stepped out of the car and waved back. At this point a couple of friends greeted me from the front door, and immediately began gesturing wildly at the car. I turned back to realize it was rolling backwards down the driveway. As it turned out, the automatic handbrake was not switched on. Luckily I hadn’t closed the door and was able to dive back in and get it under control.
The next day, feeling confident in my ability to drive this car I decided to spend my afternoon in the seaside town of Cassis. With the car full to the brim with people we set off. I successfully made it down the terrifying driveway only to drive straight into a hidden rock at the bottom that I had been warned about but promptly forgot. With the car suffering a significant gouge I pushed on, and it was worth it.
Cassis is a beautiful little town that, at the time, was not as overrun by tourists as we had expected. In the photo below, beyond the traditional fishing boats, you can see the waterfront, loaded with restaurants, across the harbor.