Restaurant Angelina, Cassis

For lunch at Cassis, mom decided to treat me at Angelina which was on Avenue Victor Hugo. The restaurant was well known in the town, especially for their bouillabaisse – a traditional Provençal fish stew.

We were ushered to a terraced dining area in the back of the restaurant.

It must have been to do with the timing of our visit – during an ordinary weekday’s afternoon, there weren’t many diners, only two couples apart from us two.

A waiting staff brought us a plate of crispy breads and a jar of olive paste.

It was a hot day and mom enjoyed a glass of chilled beer and I had a glass of Evian – someone had to drive, you see?

As a starter, we shared their famed bouillabaisse.

Well, the stew did differ from our expectation. We expected it to be one of those typical bouillabaisse which would arrive laden with shellfish and fish meat in tomato based broth. However the one ladled into our bowls was all brown and very thick liquid. ‘Bon appétit!’, mom and I both looked at each other as soon as the smiley waiter left our table. ‘Is this the bouillabaisse?!’ I dipped a spoon and tasted the liquid. Mmmm, the stew was very rich and flavoursome. Mom tasted a mouthful too and agreed enthusiastically, ‘Oh dear, it is very intense, isn’t it?’

After the stew, we had tempra of sardines with red pepper purée…

Risotto of scallops…

And pan-fried swordfish…

It was a feast!

After lunch, we did some gift shopping at one of town’s confectionaries and headed back to a car park.

Now, we must hurry because we have another place of interest on our itinerary!

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

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

Le Diabline of Aix-en-Provence

Our impression of the city could have been more positive if it wasn’t so dull and chilly when we hit the pavement of Cours Mirabeau.

It was Monday and most of the galleries and museums were closed, therefore, not many people were out there. And also, a very turbulent weather system was causing a havoc all over the country and we had been very lucky not to be caught up in it so far.

While we sat in one of the cafes and pondered what to do next, mum complained how chilly she felt and was regretting about leaving her scarf in the car.

Mum, you do this all the time! One moment, she complains how boiling hot it is and next moment she changes her mind and starts piling herself up with layers of clothings.

Anyway, we decided to go back to our car which was parked in the car park at the north end of Rue Mignet so she would stop sniffing.

‘Ok, let’s find another Diabline ride!’

Le Diabline was similar to our favourite in Avignon, La Baladine, and like her counterpart, they circulated in the city centre, serving mainly for older residents who had limited mobility.

Here comes Le Diabline!

You raise your hand and it will stop for you if there is a space available – the car has only four seats. But not to worry because a troop of the cars are on road and you will be able to hop on the one before too long!

We hitched a ride on Circuit Ligne C (green one)…

Paying the fare was a little different from La Baladine. In Avignon, we paid 0.6€ for every ride but to use Le Diabline, we had to buy a card each and to stick the card into a machine – the blue one behind the rear seat. I can’t recall how much the fare was but it was around 1€.

Oh no, the rain starts to come down…

A view of the driver’s seat…

We were supposed to get off at Place Bellgarde but our Diabline pulled up at the beginning of Rue Mignet.

It started to rain harder and we didn’t like the thought of being thrown out from the car at that moment…

Are they terminating here? There was an old French madam with us and we all looked at each other quizzically? ‘En casse?’ I asked. The driver laughed and answered ‘Non, non!’ but whipped out her mobile phone and started to talk to someone.

‘Oh well, we will have to be on this a little longer.’ Eventually, the driver climbed back into a driving seat and started the engine.

These are the tickets we bought on Le Diabline…

While we headed back to Cours Mirabeau on another Le Diabline, we had an amusing encounter with a Corsican man. As we settled into our seat and exchanged bonjour, the man with a deep tan told us that he knew a very famous Japanese man. ‘I know Hirohito!’ Oh god, the Showa Emperor?! I felt rather uneasy because, you know, the history, WWll etc. So I just smiled back to him. He then beamed, ‘We had a great emperor too!’ ‘You mean Napoleon?’ He nodded enthusiastically and grabbed my hand for a firm handshake. Then, he started to rant how the French took over Corsica and he hated the French. And there was another passenger who was the French and she took an offence and started to complain. Oh my, the looks of disdain on their faces! We got off at Cours Mirabeau and the others, the Corsican and the French continued their journey…

At an Italian restaurant on Cours Mirabeau, we had pasta with cream and smoked salmon…

Since the rain has stopped so we can walk around the city centre!

Mum and I decided to explore the city…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

We love Carrefour

During our road trip, we used the French supermarket chain Carrefour often, and especially, We liked their organic range very much. Their readymade salads were a godsend when we became weary of eating out in unfamiliar places.

Thanks to free-roaming by O2, we could find branches of Carrefour on the road and replenish our supplies…

We made a detour to the supermarket before we arrived at Aix-en-Provence…

Mum bought boxes of Calissons d’Aix-en-Provence for her friends. We also bought milk, water, strawberries, a box of Kleenex and pastries.

We visited this Carrefour almost everyday while we stayed in Aix-en-Provence…

Regarding supermarket shopping bags, I thought the French were doing a lot better than the British. I bought this large reusable shopping bag at the Carrefour in Limoges and used it throughout our trip. Unlike the British chains, the French counterparts didn’t give out any plastic bag and the only alternative was paper bags. Why don’t they do the same in the U.K???

Even if the chains increase the price of the bag to 10p, it won’t encourage lazy people to bring their own bags. The only way to reduce the plastic waste is making single-use plastic bags UNAVAILABLE!

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Roussillon

Our next destination was a commune called Roussillon. A guidebook recommended the place as a “must-see” so we decided to lunch there.

What made Roussillon unique was its reddish rocks and soil which added rosy and orangish tones to the scenery. It was due to the earth in the area was rich in clay with ochre deposits – ochres were pigments ranging from yellow and orange to red.

Unlike Gordes’, Roussillon’s carpark and the vicinity were very quiet…

Ragged rock face was punctuated by openings and doors…

Are they some sort of storage, like railway arches? What the inside is like?, mum and I were very curious…

We didn’t came across a single soul while we sauntered towards the village centre. Where was everybody? Not even the sound of everyday life, such as the sound of TV or washing machine, was heard from the walls which lined a narrow street…

Heavenly scent of jasmine greeted us…

Psssss, it’s so quiet. We must keep our voice down…

Around Place de la Mairie, there were a plenty of eateries and we decided to have lunch at one of them.

We were ushered to a narrow staircase which led us to an outside seating area…

The terrace commanded a fine view of the valley…

As we settled into our seats, the weather seemed to be going south and the wind started to increase the strength. ‘Oh god, I hope it will stay dry…’, mum frowned while she looked on one of the staffs struggling to secure a canopy above the terrace which was flapping rather wildly.

For our lunch, we ordered their plat du jour, steak!

Mmmm, it was delicious. A couple, who were seated next to us, saw what we were tucking in and ordered the same dish!

After lunch, I left mum in Place de la Mairie and went to fetch our car.

‘Where does this path lead to?’ I couldn’t resist my curiosity so decided to do a quick detour…

The narrow passage led me to a higher ground…

And I found more cafes and restaurants…

There were small gates and passages everywhere. Very intriguing…

One of the stairs led me to an open terrace which offered another great view over the Luberon Valley…

It was so tempting to climb up another path to see if any hidden gem would await me…

However, I resisted the temptation because mum would be worried if I failed to return soon…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

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