Totally Thames Tasters – 7 & 8 Sep

PLA Notices

Marseille, France: 30 April-2 May 2022

Lured by the prospect of a long weekend on the Mediterranean Sea, three intrepid CKC members set out to explore Marseille and its environs. Fiona, Rich and Nick received a very warm welcome from the Sideral Times Club at Pointe Rouge, where Corinne – a former CKC member – kindly facilitated an impeccably planned programme.

On Saturday, we ventured north from Sideral, accompanied by the club’s kayaking guru Gilbert and a few other devoted members. After crossing the Pointe Rouge harbour, we passed the Prado beach and followed the Corniche coastal road northwards, where Fiona revelled in the rock hopping opportunities. At the end of the Corniche we passed the Maregraphe that sets the zero sea level worldwide (…according to our hosts!).

The Maregraphe

Corinne then led us across Marseille bay to the magnificent Frioul archipelago. Our circuit of the islands started with the 16th century Château d’If – the setting of Alexandre Dumas’ novel The Count of Monte Cristo. We then navigated Ratonneau island, paddling past Caroline hospital where sailors were forced to quarantine following the 1720 Marseille plague. Protected from the wind by the islands and a two-hundred-year-old breakwater, Rich spent time testing his new GoPro camera and accessories, with impressive results.

Photo of the group in front of Château d’If

Corinne led us to a secluded bay where we found an inlet to land for a blissful lunch break. However, the windy return leg proved a challenge for Nick, who struggled in oversized footwear. The team gathered for a delicious tagine supper at a Tunisian restaurant in town and retired for an early night.

On Sunday, we awoke feeling fresh and headed south towards the famous Calanques national park. On the way we popped into a couple of lovely old harbours. L’Escalette harbour had a quarantine sign, fortunately it was not for us!

L’Escalette harbour

The Calanques are a series of wonderfully picturesque inlets between high cliffs. Although understandably popular with hikers early in the summer season, the area remains difficult to penetrate by road, which ensures a degree of tranquillity, occasionally punctuated by noisy sunseekers and pleasure cruises.

In the Calanques

After appreciating the remarkable scenery, we broke for lunch in Marseilleveyre and contemplated the weather forecast. The prospect of an extended paddle into a headwind forced us to reconsider plans to head onto Sormiou, instead opting to take shelter in Baie des Singes where a playful dog took a liking to Corinne’s kayak.

Returning from the Calanques

However, this shorter excursion gave us the energy to venture out for a delicious seafood supper at Au bord de l’eau in Montredon, where Corinne had secured a prime table overlooking the harbour. After dinner and digestifs we strolled to a nearby viewpoint, where we took in a view over the city, overlooked by the impressive Notre Dame de la Garde Basilica.


We took advantage of the fact that Monday was a bank holiday in the UK but not France to paddle into the historic centre of Marseille: the Vieux-Port. This area has been substantially renovated in recent years and now constitutes a vibrant cultural hub, replete with museums and attractions. Although it was not possible to land, and Fiona failed to secure an ice cream from the boat, the group benefited from expert coaching by Gilbert, who helped us to navigate the busy port.

Port of Marseille

Back at the club, we congregated for a late lunch and slices of Corinne’s almond cake, with Rich taking the lucky slice which made him “king” complete with a paper crown. We enjoyed an afternoon of tall tales courtesy of club chair Denis and of Breton cider, thanks to Corinne.

The three-day weekend went by in a flash and left the whole gang feeling energised and excited for future iterations — notably with Marseille due to host the 2024 sailing Olympics. Huge thanks to Sideral Times Club – particularly Corinne, Denis and Gilbert – for hosting us!

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