Toes in the sand, blue, blue waters and quiet beaches. Yes, they do exist on the French Riviera you just need to know when and where to visit! This April during the school’s spring break we took advantage of a Lufthansa Surprise airfare deal. These special flights are very similar to EuroWings Blind Booking, but has a few more exotic options ~ when Marseille popped up as our location, I was thrilled.
After a little bit of research and some social media chatting I found out Marseilles itself was not a great tourist destination but a “skip” this and head to the surrounding area. Katy, our oldest visited this area a few years ago and recommended the town of La Ciotat on the Riviera just 40 minutes south along the coast from the airport.
Since this was a trip with the “fam” we booked an AirBnb in the heart of the city – Apartment City Centre 3. It was perfect for our “break” on the beach. The title for this apartment was spot – on. Our flight came in late and we rented a car so writing an email letter to our arrival ensured us a “pas de problème” no problem. I arranged for key exchange with Albane and everything was all set. We parked locally at a city parking garage for about €11/day.
Vising the green island ~ Île Verte
Just off the coast of La Ciotat is Íle Verte. We decided to hop a ferry boat to investigate this little island. It was about €12/person round trip and left at noon. The boat captain told us they typically go out more often to the island during the summer months. Our beautiful weather beckoned us to be on the water and made it easy to hop on the boat.
Île Verte or the Green Island is a protected land and has 2km of hiking trails that loop around the island and you can see how this once massive fortress helped protect the mainland. During the 17th century two forts were built to help provide protection from the English and after World War II both forts were destroyed. However, I loved walking on and around the ruins of what was left and my imagination went wild. The stories this little island could tell!
If you visit the island you will have good eats too, a brand new restaurant is right on the harbor with gorgeous outdoor seating. We ordered fish and salads that were delicious and the service was professional. Would definitely come back just for the food!
After about two hours you have seen the island and had a GREAT meal, time to catch the ferry back to La Ciotat! Another successful discovery.
Strolling around town
This little harbor town has such a personality. We found the quaintness and charm to be just the ticket for our weekend of rest and relaxation. As we strolled through the town and stores were just opening up we noticed several store front closures were painted in different mural designs leading to very interesting conversations.
I did say we were at the beach, right! Well, I have to say this has been one of my favorites so far. Quiet, not crowded, lovely sand and light breezes. Did I mention it was April! Well, the weather was fantastic while Germany were still battling snow, wind and rain we were enjoying the great Vitamin D and sunshine. Ahhhh ~ I know that was just plain mean. But now you can go ~
The boardwalk and promenade are quite long in La Ciotat and the city has been working hard on bringing the tourism in to the city. There is an outdoor gym, the gorgeous boat harbor, restaurants that line the promenade without clogging up the traffic right on the beach. While we were there they also had a boat show, but the entrance fee looked a little steep, so Jon just looked.
We are in France after all – of course we are going to have some good eats! Here are few places around town I would recommend ~
When Jessica Marie did a little research and found a waffle cafe very close to our AirBnb and I hadn’t done the grocery shopping yet, well… you can see what happened next! Pictures of us woofing them down were not allowed to be posted.
On our first night in La Ciotat, not much was open. Thankfully, we were able to duck into this restaurant/oyster bar and fill up. WOW! Were we surprised and delighted. Everything was wonderful, wish we would’ve thought to make reservations but next time. We had the special selection which the chef went into detail of their location and style. We tried oysters from New Zealand, Italy, Ireland and of course local oysters as well. YUM! We also brought along Jessica our vegetarian (at the time) daughter who had a wonderful salad.
Pretty sure it might be a writer’s thing but after visiting many beaches and cities around the world there might be a Hemingway’s in every one of them and they all claim he drank there. Either way this was such a treat to visit here and share some whiskey for Jon and gin for me – loads of fun and met some local people too.
La Tete d’Ail – La Ciotat
This was one of our favorite meals of the long weekend. La Tete d’Ail – the head of the garlic. Everyone was happy here ~ right on the promenade, the quiet setting, yet bubbly and alive when customers arrived. Service was excellent with attentive wait staff and we could order a carafe d’eau (pitcher of water) yay!!
La Ciotat by night
My favorite time of day when traveling sometimes is THE NIGHT! Here are a few shots I got while out walking with Jess around the city.
I hope you have liked my little trip to the French Riviera and the beach… next week I’ll be writing about Cassis and the Calanques National Park – just too much to fit in one blog. We had such a great time relaxing here and exploring, so close to Marseilles and a whole new area to discover… maybe your next adventure is on the french coast… see you soon!