La Ciotat and beyond.

Having found our way to La Ciotat, we were welcomed by Caren, Mike, Max and Jaffa! Max and Jaffa loved Simon just as much he loved them! Lots of cuddles and chasing them around the beautiful garden that Mike has created over the past four years, an almost barren landscape has been turned into a lavender filled paradise, along with the newly made above ground pool. Perfect for an afternoon dip, a midnight dip or any time of the day!
Mike took Simon and me for a walk to their nearest beach at Figuerolles, an easy 5 minute stroll from the house, he made us walk to the bottom of the stairs not allowing us to look to the left as we walked. Once we had stopped we turned to see the most magnificent sight, cliffs running down into the sea which went from aqua to turquoise to deep blue, all so clear. Especially breathtaking was the cliff top which looked just like an imperious eagle, ignoring the beings on the beach and looking out to sea. The rocky beach was reminiscent of Recommone and Conca del Sogno though the water was much colder here. This beautiful beach and the surrounding bays were used by the Germans during the Second World War to house their submarines, natural harbours with such deep water.
Onto dinner in the old port. “Make like a water droplet and follow the roads downwards” said Caren and so we did, the only problem is that whatever goes down, apart from water droplets, has to come up! We ended up at the old port where during the summer months there is a night market, along with muscly young men who beat loud drums and entertain the restaurant crowds with their banter and acrobatics! We ate overlooking the port in a restaurant Caren and Mike were trying for the first time, most likely the last! Mixed orders, grumpy waitress, incorrect bill, the food was good, however. A slow walk thorough the night market where Simon added to his extensive key ring collection, there was little else worth buying but the lively atmosphere was fun.
Simon started his day by taking Max and Jaffa on a walk to the bakery, more delicious croissants and bread for breakfast! We had a quick visit to the other beach which is a long sandy beach with a section for dogs, another for naturists and the rest for the rest of us! It was packed with families of all generations, enjoying the clear crisp sea and beach fun. Lunch followed at a restaurant which had recently received a Michelin star, La Table de Nans, on the coast road between La Ciotat and Saint Cyr, and recently been discovered by Caren and Mike. On the terrace, shaded from the heat of the day, overlooking the sea, eating the most exquisite, beautifully presented food, accompanied by a delicious Meursault, was heaven indeed! The Meursault being to celebrate our 29th wedding anniversary and Carne and Mikes 19th!
We drove home via a spectacular cliff top drive, Route des Cretes, overlooking the next town of Cassis, having first seen the fourteenth century church and the rock formation which looked exactly like Oscar, Caren and Mike’s much loved previous dog, an unexpected consolation when Caren was out walking mourning his loss. This drive features in a Michael Caine film, the French Connection? The Marseille Contract, as Michael found out later, none of us could remember but it was, as the Michelin guide says, “Vaux Le voyage”, it is also worth watching the YouTube clip of the car chase!
A walk through the botanical gardens was followed by another visit to the night market for me and Simon – more key rings!
Mike made a scrumptious spaghetti with tomato sauce for dinner to showcase his homegrown zucchinis, delicious even though they were found in the oven the next morning!
A beautiful breakfast on the terrace once again, too soon to go as we had seen only a little of what La Ciotat has to offer, it reminds Caren and Mike of Balmain with the mix of an industrial working port and natural beauty though the high cliffs, calanques as they are called here are unique to La Ciotat. Next stop the hills behind St Tropez where we had lunch and dinner with Robert and Nathalie, bobbing, floating and swimming the afternoon away in their infinity pool, admiring the wonderful view over the wooded hillsides, the vineyards with the sea sparkling in the distance.
We set off the next morning to Switzerland via lunch in Villefranche, just to the side of Nice. Another terrace, another spectacular view, this time watching the bay fill up with boats, small boats to enormous superyachts. No time to climb down the 483 steps down, go under the railway line and onto the beach for a swim as we had a long drive to Haute Nendaz before us, but so lovely to have lunch with old friends and reminisce about heady days!
Eight hours later, a couple of traffic jams, only one wrong turn, and a long windy drive through the Grand St Bernard tunnel and we were here in Haute Nendaz. We stopped to choose ourselves an almost midnight snack, as it would be, by the time we arrived, Googlemaps being rather optimistic at six and a half hours driving. Simon chose a Greek salad, Bircher muesli for me and Michael, cheese and bread for making himself cheese on toast. No guesses for who is the most healthy of us!image

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