La Tarte Tropézienne, Cassis

Cassis, a reputed coastal town of Côte d’Azur, was about half hour drive from Aix-en-Provence. Visiting the town was earmarked to be one of our road trip’s highlights and we were praying for good weather.

And our player was answered! We found a gorgeous blue sky over our head. A perfect weather for visiting the seaside.

We came off from A50 and went through a few hairpin curves…

‘I don’t see any coastline yet.’, mum complained. Guardrails were cutting the line of our sights and the only things we could see was the blue sky and the line of trees.

The traffic slowed down as we approached a toll gate…

I can’t recall how much the toll was but it was around €3.00?

After driving through narrow and winding streets of Cassis’s residential area, we arrived at a very smart carpark. The place was modern and stylish with a fancy ironwork and colour scheme. Even though the charges weren’t cheap but I was impressed by most of the French public car parks in their towns and cities. They seemed to be well designed and pleasant to park a car. And we always felt safe.

‘Wow! It’s busy!’ Despite being weekday morning, the car park was almost full and we had to park in the lowest level. How busy will it be during the high season!, mum and I shook our heads with disbelief.

I don’t know about you but the sight made me very nostalgic…

It reminded me of the illustrations of my all time French children’s book, Caroline et ses amis, á la mer…

All those pinwheels, who will buy them, you may wonder. But the atmosphere of seaside is such, I would have been lure to buy one if my rational side of me didn’t stop me!

The first settlers of Cassis were the Ligures who arrived at the shore around 500 BC. They were originally from the north-western Italy and they established their lives by fishing and farming.

Today’s Cassis is a popular tourist destination and the place is teeming with visitors who want to visit its famous cliffs and inlets.

A well-presented town centre…

Despite the aged appearance, the buildings were well maintained and the tiled streets and pavements were immaculately clean. The town was very smart.

Look mum, La Tarte Tropézienne!

La Tarte Tropézienne is a chain patisserie which has branches mainly in the South of France. They sell not only the famous tarte Tropézienne but also more usual French cakes and pastries.

Tarte Tropézienne! They came in different sizes…

Let’s have some with coffee before we go cruising, mum!

Doesn’t it look cute?

It was delicious too! While we enjoyed our morning treat, I chatted with a staff who made up delicious coffee. She was shocked to hear that I drove from London all on my own. She was even more impressed when I told her that I would drive back to the UK, tracing the eastern side of France.

‘By the way, is there any public convenience nearby?’

She told us that there was one in a town square which was adjacent to the shop.

Place Baragnon…

The square with a fountain seemed to be also a home for several ducks…

Hey guys, do you know where is a public toilet?

The public loo was in the north corner of the square and it was one of those “automated” kinds. I had seen a similar one in London for years but never had the courage to use one.

Oh well, I’ve got to bite the bullet now because I have to test drive it before sending mum in!

The loo wasn’t dirty but it was a bit scary. In the back of my mind, I couldn’t help worrying if the door wouldn’t unlock and I would be trapped inside!

Thankfully, no such thing happened and I sent mum to use it too. However, I stood right next to the door and kept on asking her if everything was ok. It must have been a peculiar sight for the passers by…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Aix Cathedral

As I have mentioned in my previous post, le lundi, aka Monday, was a no-no day to do sightseeing because everything noteworthy is closed – throughout the country, almost all of the public attractions are open on Sunday and closed on Monday.

After finishing lunch, we made a beeline to Monoprix on Cours Mirabeau. ‘I hope they have another one.’, mum said excitedly.

She bought a teal green knitted top at their branch in Avignon and she really loved it. The style and the material were very flattering to her so she was hoping if she could find the similar one in black.

Unfortunately, they didn’t have it. In fact, they didn’t have anything we saw in their Avignon store. How can it be possible? Mum and I were puzzled.

After leaving the store empty-handed, we decided to wander around the old city centre…

The rain had stopped and the pedestrian came out onto the cobbled backstreets. Aix-en-Provence was a very attractive city with honey-coloured buildings and numerous leafy squares. However, the signs of economic recession, such as boarded-up shop fronts and shop windows plastered with “solde!”signs, were everywhere…

We wanted to visit somewhere noteworthy in the city, therefore, we headed to Paroisse Cathédrale Saint Sauveur Aix-en-Provence, aka Aix Cathedral…

The cathedral was not as humongous as the ones in Reims and Strasbourg. However, the history of the shrine was as old and as interesting as theirs.

During the Roman occupation, the place, where the present church occupied, was dedicated to Apollo, a Greek sun god.

After the Romans left, the first Christian church was built by Saint Maximinus of Aix during the 1st century. The saint arrived to Aix-en-Provence with Mary Magdalene and spent his lifetime spreading the teaching of Jesus Christ.

The first modest shrine was destroyed by the invading Saracens in the 8th and 9th centuries.

From the end of the 12th century, Aix-en-Provence became the capital of Provence and just as the city’s prestige and importance increased, so the need for a larger place of worship surged.

From the early 12th century, the construction of a new church started and the Romanesque style structure was dedicated to the Virgin Mary (Notre Dame de la Sède).

Like many of historic buildings in Europe, the church was made from several architectural styles – from the 12th century’s Romanesque to the 18th century’s neo-Gothic. It was a joy to look around and discover pieces of history etched on the stone works.

‘Let’s go back to the car park before the rain starts again!’

The walk was short and easy..

Now, we will do another grocery shopping at our favourite Carrefour and head to the hotel.

By the way, a hotel we stayed in Aix-en-Provence was a bit of disaster. I chose it because it was right next to a multi-story car park and I thought it would make mum’s life easy. However, the hotel was very basic and out of date. It reminded me a student dormitory! Even though the owner was very helpful and friendly, I wouldn’t go back there in future…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

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