Day Trips – Part 1: La Ciotat!

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A while back, one of my friends invited me and a few others for a day trip, and it just sounded like the perfect way to break up the weekend. Plus I had been itching for a reason to get out of the city proper, so this was the perfect starting point.

We left early on a slightly chilly Sunday morning and caught the bus out to the small port city of La Ciotat. It only cost 5.70€ for a one-way ticket and was practically like a mini-holiday.

We arrived right in the middle of their Sunday market. French markets, or le marché, are a fabulous part of French tradition. At least once a week, vendors from all over the area come around to the town center or the designated market area, and sell their produce and various products. It could be anything from the season’s veggies and freshly caught seafood to clothes, homemade soaps and art work.

Some small towns hold a market once a week, while larger areas hold several markets throughout the various neighborhoods, or arrondissements. In Paris, markets are held in each of their twenty quartiers on differing days of the week. Meaning everyone can getfresh produce, cheeses and meats on almost any day. Talk about spoiled.

Each market says a lot about the city’s character. Marseille’s Noailles yells Little Algeria with Halal everything and wonderful spice stores. Paris’s Porte de Clignancourt spoke of cool retro-vintage vibes with unique second-hand finds. And La Ciotat whispered of delicious seafood, genuine townspeople, and wafting Mediterranean influences.

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After wandering around the markets for an hour or so, I had succeeded in finding a super cute shirt at three quarters of the Marseille price (when I gawked at the cost the vendor told me he could sell it to me for more), mouth-watering paella, and some random man selling fish out of a bucket. The best part was that people were lining up to buy the fish from this bucket! All these old people were gathered around saying, “O yeah I’ll take three…” or “I’ll have two…. ” Classic old school France. Gotta love it.

La Ciotat is known for it’s picturesque port and stunning calanques. Calanques are basically secluded water inlets or coves situated between two huge rock walls off the Mediterranean coast. The two most popular calanques in La Ciotat are called Calanque de Figuerolles and Calanque de Mugel.

They’re about a 45-minute walk from the town center  or 10 minutes if you’re cool enough to have a car. But the hike is absolutely worth it, because when you do arrive and descend the 87-steps down, there’s a beautiful little bay tucked between two caving rock walls with calming lapping blue water. All just waiting for you to show up and enjoy.

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We spent the rest of the afternoon having a quasi pique-nique on the beach, hiking about and snapping pictures before heading home. The hour-long bus ride consisted of us all exhaustedly agreeing to do something like that again. Great Sunday adventure… check.

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