Aix-en-Provence - An Autumn by the Sea - CycleBlaze

November 13, 2018

Aix-en-Provence

After a ridiculously overpriced breakfast at our hotel, we walked down to the waterfront to see a bit of Cassis in the daylight.  We knew there was a problem with the breakfast but opted for it anyway since they began serving at 6:30 and we wanted to get an early start to the day.  It seemed like the right decision at the time, but still!

We put Cassis on our map for several reasons.  First off, I’ve heard of it for years from my mother, who either loved it or always wished to go - I forget which now, and need to call her up and ask one of these nights when I manage to stay awake long enough after dinner.

Second, the famously dramatic calanque coastline between here and Marseilles was the setting for Pugnol’s wonderful Marseilles Trilogy, a series of three recently restored films (Marius, Fanny, and Cesar) that we saw for the first time at the film center last winter.  You should see them.

And third, it is a natural stop on the route to Marseilles, which we had originally planned to pass through on our way west.

Given how much I’d thought about coming here, we didn’t really get a good enough look at Cassis.  We enjoyed a walk along the harbor and west out of town a ways, but more was needed.  We both thought afterwards that we should have stayed here two nights and spent the day hiking west to the calanques, but when it came time to book a room it looked likely to be too wet to hang out here for an extra day.

On the waterfront, Cassis. The white cliff above the near ridge is one of the famous Calanques.
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In Cassis
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It was a 30% plunge getting into Cassis from the high route to the east, but fortunately we didn’t leave town the way we arrived.  The main route climbs more gradually up a gap to the north for a few miles, before tying into the main east-west route.  This is the way if you’re going west to Marseilles, or east to Le Ciotat or Toulon on the fast, safe, boring route.

We did neither, of course.  We more or less went straight north thirty miles to Aix-en-Provence, a place we biked through without stopping 25 years ago.  Aix is one of my sister Elizabeth’s favorite spots in the world, so between Cassis and Aix this is officially Make the Family Jealous week.

A very nice ride, but I’m behind schedule so I’ll save some time here and let the photos and video speak for the day.  It’s beautiful out again today, and we must hop on the bikes.

Leaving Cassis
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Cassis is of course rimmed by ridges and cliffs. The easiest land access is to the north, through the gap we’re looking back at here.
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Still working our way up and away from Cassis. After about a thousand foot climb we’re nearing the top.
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Up on top, we’re surrounded by low, colorful ridges. And, in case you didn’t notice, look at all that blue!
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At Roquevaire, where we stopped for a sidewalk lunch. No, not a sidewalk cafe - just a sidewalk. We were ready for our break so we just sat down on the first clearing we came to. A hundred yards later we came to a clearing and park with nice views, but the deed was done.
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Steve Miller/GrampiesIsn't that always the way?
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1 month ago
Today didn’t have the drama of yesterday’s - they can’t all be five star stunners - but it was certainly pretty enough.
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It’s a rolling ride today - nothing brutal (yet), but just enough to get us up for some nice views.
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Some of the most pleasant miles of the day
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Nearing the last climb of the trip. Rachael has been warning of this climb all day, after looking ahead at the ride profile.
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She’s hiding so we won’t see the tears. She did well to make it this far up this ever steepening ridge.
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Steep enough that even pushing was tough. 25% perhaps?
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Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyJust another character builder. She’s built up quite a bit or character by now, I think most would agree.
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4 weeks ago
Jen GrumbyIf I'd been there I would have cried with her!!
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4 weeks ago
Andrea BrownNo shame in pushing, it’s an upper body workout at a pace where you can look for money in the ditch, think deep thoughts, and spew the occasional profanity.
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4 weeks ago
This is Mont Sainte-Victoire, the isolated ridge just east of Aix and the subject of several Cezanne paintings. We plan on biking a circuit of it tomorrow.
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We entered Aix by crossing the Arc River at a narrow crossing south of the city. This is the Trois Sautets (three hops) Bridge, because before it was built it took three hops across the narrow river to cross it here.
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Bathers by a Bridge, by Paul Cezanne, who placed a number of his paintings in and around Aix.
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Crossing the Arc on the Trois Sautets Bridge. We agree, this is much better Han hopping across the river. Mak3s us think of our small portage a few days back.
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We have Rachael to thank for this shot. She suggested that I should quit catching up on the news and come out on the balcony for a moment.
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Oh, well. It’s a bit of a slow news day, so I think we can afford a second sunset shot. It looks like the crows are coming home to roost.
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A restaurant and meal we’d like to remember. Le Petit Verdot, an intimate and warm restaurant in the pedestrian zone; and a Spanish pork dish with mustard and onion sauce, mashed potatoes, and a colorful array of vegetables. I love the look of the radish slice and carrot strip.
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Steve Miller/GrampiesFrench food that feeds the body and the soul.
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Steve Miller/GrampiesAgreed. I’m thinking, btw, of starting up a forum thread on setting photo quotas. Food, cows, cats, and their ilk. Thoughts?
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4 weeks ago
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Ride stats today: 34 miles,2,700’

Today's ride: 34 miles (55 km)
Total: 2,412 miles (3,882 km)

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