Kayaking in the South of France - My Family Travels

Cassis was beautiful, but I had envisioned sandy beaches, visits to museums, and nice city strolls. Instead, I was stuck in a kayak, wondering how I had gotten myself into this mess, as I tried to propel my paddle through the salty waves.

The main attraction of Cassis are the calanques. Calanques are a bit like fjords, skinny canyons with a beach at one end and the Mediterranean at the other. They’re breathtaking. The water is a sparkling turquoise blue and lush vegetation sprouts from the rocky cliffs. They were made for photoshoots, and are great for chilling on the beach. I just saw no reason why it was necessary to see them by kayak of all things.

“Ça va?” asked Laurianne from behind me. I was positive she was the one really making the boat move forward. All I seemed to be doing was getting myself wet.

Ça va mal,” I replied. “I am very bad at this and I am…” I paused, unable to come up with the French word for ‘damp.’ “My clothes have lots of water.”

“Oh, pas problème. You’re doing fine.” Pas problème for her maybe, but I was miserable. My pants being continuously soaked in sprays of cold water was not my idea of fun. Laurianne attempted to improve my paddling technique, but I had been seated in the front of the kayak, making it impossible for me to watch and imitate. All I could do was keep digging my paddle into the water and watch the wide open sea creep closer and closer.

            The second kayak, manned by Laurianne’s parents, floated up to ours.

            “Tu aimes?” Laurianne’s mother smiled at me, shading her eyes from the sun. I shook my head in response.

“I like the scenery, but not the kayaking.” I felt terrible that I wasn’t enjoying this at all, but they couldn’t say I hadn’t warned them. When the idea of taking this trip occurred to them yesterday, I was quick to note that the idea of kayaking in the middle of the Mediterranean scared me out of my mind. I also told them that I had no idea how to operate a kayak. They informed me my lack of experience was fine, because they had never done this before either. Yeah, like that made me feel any better.

            J’ai peur,” I told her. Very frightened.”  She looked at me for a moment.

            Are you joking?” 

I gaped. Was she crazy ? My fear of the rough waves out in the sea, away from the shelter of the calanques, was in no way a joke to me.


            It will be okay,” she told me, and paddled off. Maybe she was right, but that didn’t mean I had to like it.

            When we drifted into the sea, Laurianne told me to stop paddling because I couldn’t keep rhythm. I balanced the paddle across my knees, a lump in my throat, and eyed the waves rocking us back and forth. The sun beat down on my bare feet. To distract myself, I examined the sunbathers on the rocks. Girls in bikinis, guys in sunglasses, an old man sunning his naked buttocks. I smiled.

            “Ça va?” asked Laurianne.

            “Ça va,” I said, resigned to my fate.


            After forty minutes of kayaking, we reached land. The beach was made of pointy rocks instead of sand, but I didn’t care. I stripped to my bathing suit and stretched out in the sun, glad it was over. Now I just had to deal with the trip back.

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1 Reply to “Kayaking in the South of France”

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