French Holiday

The 11th of November is a national French holiday which celebrates the end of WWI. So this means you get the day off, and specifically for me it means go to the seaside! This 11th of November was the hottest day ever recorded for this time of year. So I hopped in the car and went off about 40km from Marseille to La Madrague a very quaint little village with a tiny beach and a view of La Ciotat a city famous for being the location of one of the first films ever created in 1895.

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Chez Henri

The french adore eating outdoors, especially here on the mediterranean coast; and when the thermostat reads 71 degrees everyone scrambles to the nearest terrace. By far the best spot to eat in La Madrague is a family owned restaurant called Chez Henri. You can actually find Henri with his gray round spectacles doing rounds and checking in with all the regulars.

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When cooler weather arrives, the custom is to drink a hearty glass of red wine to regain one’s spirits, but with this beautiful weather, we enjoyed a glass of refreshing Rosé (blush wine) with ice cubes inside to cool off even more.

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Chez Henri is known for serving super fresh seafood, brought in the same day from local markets, which were fished right from the surrounding waters. I had the Sole, a sandal shaped flat flish which usually lies underwater on the sand. They also serve mussels with french fries, Freshly made pizzas cooked over a wood fire, and an array of other fresh seafood dishes.

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Chez Henri
738 Route de la Madrague, 83270 Saint-Cyr-sur-Mer
Fresh Seafood:4.5 Stars (4.5 / 5)
Pizza:4 Stars (4 / 5)
Service:5 Stars (5 / 5)
Location:5 Stars (5 / 5)

The Seaside House

I found the mix of summer and fall colors delightful; rays of sun impregnating radiant autumn hues.

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Even in the middle of fall, the blue and sandy colors of the seaside house are vibrant and warm and made me feel confortable and happy. Seeing the water really brightens me up, it’s a great getaway even if only for one afternoon.

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Sunset Pétanque

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Games of throwing balls have existed forever, and there are games similar to Pétanque that are played all over Europe, like Bocce in Italy. But the game Pétanque comes from the provençal dialect expression pès tancats which means “feet planted”. Pétanque is a very popular game in the south of france, which in its current form originated in La Ciotat, just across the water from where we’re playing here, in 1907. The goal is to take hallow metal balls and throw them as close as you can to the “cochonnet” meaning piglet (a smaller wooden ball), and the first team to 13 points wins. This can become a difficuly feat as other players are allowed to knock out of the way, but all in all is a terrifically fun outside pastime.

 

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Absolutely anybody can play pétanque which makes this game a great family activity, and a perfect pastime on a sunny afternoon like this one.

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The Harbor

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As the sun goes down, some of the locals bring out their fishing rods and try to catch a few little swimmers. This region is well known for fish soups like “Bouillabaisse” which originally was made from the bony rockfish that couldn’t be sold at market, and has now become a delicacy in the region; a scrumptious hearty stew, eaten with the traditional accompaniment of croutons and rouille.

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When you’re in Marseille, make sure to visit the surrounding areas like La Madrague, La Ciotat, and Cassis to enjoy the beautiful scenery and a beautiful day on the water in some of the lesser known calanques and beaches.

 

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