Daytrip to Cassis

By Kate Riley January 11, 2018

Winter is here for a few more months, and it’s the rainy season in Northern California. The rain is at first charming, but then quickly becomes dreary. While I await the warmer weather of spring and summer, I recall the day trip I took to the seaside town of Cassis in the south of France in September where the sun shined on one of the most picturesque places I’ve ever seen.

To get there, I booked a 25 minute van ride with a small tour group that left from the center of colorful Aix-en-Provence. We had a great guide who shared regional stories and historical facts  along the way.

If you’re looking for seaside charm, captivating Cassis southeast of Marseilles checks the all the tourist boxes (which explains why it’s so crowded in summer). I visited in September so there were less people present, and of all the excursions I enjoyed while in France, this stop ranks high as a favorite.

 

Cassis is a tiny yet popular town on the southern coast of France. When I stepped out of the van I had to catch my breath, it looked at first like a movie set and not a real place at all. It’s so perfectly charming with its harbor filled with boats, and the quaint shops, cafes, and beautiful beach.

Wander the cobblestone streets and back alleys up and away from main street on the harbor and you’ll find less tourists, which is where I spent an hour meandering while lunching on a savory takeaway crêpe from a local vendor.

 

Two locals paused to notice me, the solo female tourist with her backpack and camera trying her best to be incognito but obvious to them I’m only there for the day. They stare for a moment then go back to their conversation in rapid French, and as much as I try to eavesdrop, I can’t keep up since my French is rudimentary at best.

 

 

In the port you can take a boat ride from any of the willing captains at the docks out to see the famous calanques (rocky inlets) along the shore where you’ll also spy fisherman and the occasional skinny dipper (don’t blink in the video or you’ll miss them) ;)

My boat captain spoke only French and handed me a pamphlet in English of what I was about to see on the ride. I could tell from his weathered face and bright blue eyes that winked at me that he’d been giving this tour forever. He apologized that the tour was in his spoken language, but I preferred it that way, it added to the adventure. The clouds conveniently parted for the boat tour so fortunately we could see the details of the crags.

 

 

 

Before returning to Aix, we headed up to the top of Cape Canaille. Stepping out of the van I was greeted by an amazing (yet petrifying) view of Cassis from up above. There are no barriers up at the Cape like we’d have in America and no signs reading “proceed with caution, deadly cliff ahead”. It’s just assumed if you traipse too close and fall, too bad for you! I stayed back from the edge but loved looking at the beautiful view of the coast below.

There are plenty of other things to do on a daytrip to Cassis, but be aware, in summer it’s extra crowded with tourists and French people on holiday.

1) Dine in one of the seaside cafes and people watch the passersby.

2) Visit any of the dozens of local shops for artisan goods.

3) Visit the Château de Cassis, a fortress that once protected the town.

4) Hike the trail along the calanques for an amazing sea view (it takes several hours) and drop down to the hidden beaches for a swim.

 

Below is a 90 second video to give you a feel for the seaside town and a peek at the calanques on a boat tour. Enjoy!

P.S. If you’re curious about the compact camera I use to shoot images and video when I travel, I link to it here.

10 Tiny House Tours

By Kate Riley January 8, 2018

Just about everyone starts the new year looking around their homes thinking “Ugh, how did I acquire all this stuff” accompanied by the immediate need to purge it all. We go around and around with this cycle every year, consuming as the months go by then looking back with frustration and decluttering yet again.

Motivated myself, I fell down the rabbit hole of tiny houses and small space living. This is a growing movement of people who have decided to give up their large homes in exchange for living in miniature dwellings crafted of shipping containers or tiny homes on wheels.

I’m fascinated by this lifestyle if it’s your solo dwelling, and the freedom it brings from living with just the essentials. There are other uses for these tiny houses as well, perhaps a second unit parked on your property to house guests, or for use as an alternative residence you can take on a road trip. The tiny house movement is growing in such popularity, it even has its own TV show where you can watch custom tiny homes being designed and constructed.

These are not cookie cutter projects, rather they are real homes that showcase how simply one can live with considered detail, organization, and the bare necessities, yet they don’t compromise style. Both creativity and craftsmanship are required to maximize every square inch so each home functions for the residents’ lifestyle and also reflects their design preferences as well.

These tiny home share all the modern amenities we appreciate in larger residential homes on foundations: contemporary light fixtures, sliding barn doors, plank wall treatments, cozy textiles, tiled bathrooms and backsplashes, but all on smaller scale. Here are the links to tour ten favorites.

1) Pacific Harmony – House on Wheels

 

 

 

2) Denali Craftsman House on Wheels

 

 

 

3) Pacific Pioneer – House on Wheels

 

 

 

 

4) Silhouette Tiny Home

 

 

 

5) Sacramento Container Home

 

 

 

6) Le Laurier House on Wheels

 

 

 

7) Mayflower Tiny Home

 

 

 

8) San Francisco Family Tiny House (with video!)

 

 

 

9) Eucalyptus Tiny House on Wheels

 

 

 

10) Cindy Lou House on Wheels

 

 

When you read the stories of people who have jumped on board the tiny house movement, the themes of simpler living, energy independence, and financial freedom repeat themselves. Most people I know wouldn’t give up their houses to live so small but the people who have done it speak passionately of the benefits.

The biggest takeaway for me when I look at these tiny houses is I’m inspired to take action and live smaller, with far less stuff, in order to have more freedom.

What takeaways do you get from tiny house living?