Monday, October 26, 2015

Mediterranean Cruise - Day 3 - Cassis, France and Provence Countryside

On our 2nd night at sea we sailed from Palma de Mallorca to Marseille, France. Margot and I chose a trip to Cassis, France for a shore excusion. This is a shot of the small harbor at Cassis.

This was the sunrise that greeted us as the ship pulled in to the port. The excursion started fairly early in the morning so we were up early for breakfast.

This harbor boat was used (I think) to help handle the lines from the ship to the pier. I was amazed that the ship never used a tugboat in any of the ports. The ship has bow thrusters to push the front of the ship in either direction. In addition, it does not have traditional engine-shaft-propeller arrangement. Instead it has 3 azipods in the rear. The main engines run generators that provide electricity to motors in the azipods that are below the hull in the water. The azipods can rotate 360 degrees. As a result the ship can move sideways as easily as it moves forward and backward. Azipod

The Provence countryside was very pretty.

If you are unsure how to pronounce Cassis I think it is pretty close to American English ka-see. I also heard ka-seese but very light on the final "s" sound. Maybe it is a regional difference. Perhaps Amanda can explain.

There were a lot of terraced vineyards. The geology was pretty dramatic as well.

This is a view of Cassis from the highway.

Our first stop was Cap Canaille. It is one of the highest marine headlands in Europe at 1293 ft.

Click to enlarge.

That is the town of Cassis at the left center of the picture.

The harbor was very picturesque. A number of working boats but mostly pleasure boats. There is a small beach as well and restaurants and bars all along the harborfront.

The only thing I learned at the beach was that you are never too old to sunbathe topless.

We decided on the spur of the moment to take a boat trip to see some of the calanques along the coast between Cassis and Marseille. A calanque is a steep sided valley formed in the limestone cliffs.

This is a view of some of the homes just outside the harbor.

The coast is very dramatic.

The waves were tossing the boat around pretty good. We initially sat in the bow of the boat but were advised we would get wet if we sat there.

Click to enlarge.

Over the years there was been various quarry activities. The stone for the base of the Statue of Liberty was quarried in this area.

Another bluff.

This is calanque is called En-Vau. It has a beautiful beach at the end but it is one of the most difficult to reach.

You can learn more here.

Calanques of Cassis

There were a couple of guys practicing their rock climbing skills on the side of the calanque.

A building in Cassis.

This farm was very pretty, I thought. I took this from the bus as we passed by.

Click to enlarge.

We did not go up to Chateau de Cassis but this has been a defensive location since the 5th century. It has recently been restored into a very nice hotel.

Cassis Castle

This is a monument in Marseille that we passed on our way back to the ship.

This cathedral overlooks all of Marseille.

This evening we went to a presentation of Mamma Mia! after dinner on the ship. It was very well done. I'd say typical of touring off-Broadway productions. It might have been even better than the version we saw in Roanoke several years ago.

Another scene. I think this is from the finale.

These sculptures? are hanging in one of the atriums between the elevator banks on the ship.

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