After the frustrating drive over from Barcelona our journey along the south coast of France continued. Having battled for a place to park for the night a relaxing day on the beaches of the Côte d’Azure would have been much appreciated to reduce the stress built up from the night before. However, the morning proved to be quite the opposite as the fabled shores of the blue coast prevailed to be harder to find than originally planned. As I battled against the one way systems and out of date satnav Bani’s map reading incapabilities once again shone through whilst we aimlessly roamed near the coastline. In our planning we has failed to pinpoint an exact location as we had heard that the French Riviera was rich with postcard beaches and simply just presumed that we would stumble upon the perfect stretch of sand. We eventually regathered our bearings and after winning the war against the GPS we found ourselves on the beaches of the village of Tamaris. Having finally made it to the coast the first opportunity to inflate the kayak was taken and we were finally able to explore the coastline. Having remembered to fully tighten the seals for the pumps, this paddle proved to be a lot more successful and buoyant than the trial run in Bournemouth which ended in wet chaos as we sank into the cold English sea. In France, being the incredibly innovative man he is Bani saw this time as the perfect occasion to get some washing up done. So as he left me to do the hard work, he sat back with the crockery, scraping the remains of last nights pasta into the sea for any hungry fish. Unfortunately Bani’s sea washing technique wasn’t entirely successful as our evening’s meal came with an extra helping of salt. After a day of snorkelling and a few cliff jumps we explored the land of Tamaris and more specifically the bars. All the stresses of driving to this remote location were soon forgotten as we made our way though the bottles of Desperados whilst sitting in the small bay.
After another day relaxing on the beach we decided it was time to move further along the coast and made our way East, via Montpellier and Marseilles. The drive to Marseilles was a pointless one as we only drove through the city as the problem area of parking struck again so we set our sights on Marseilles instead. This was again only a quick trip as we preferred the quieter beaches away from the cities. We did find a space to leave the van and did make it in to look around the harbour and the Basilique Notre Dam which looked over the city, before heading onto the next beach.
Again, a picturesque French beach was hard to come by as I drove through thunder storms whilst recommencing battle with the complicated French road systems and the shocking navigation from my co-pilot. Once again we eventually wound up in a lovely beach car park which seemed more than adequate for the night, where we were joined by another VW containing a German family. Unfortunately, this was not a free car park and was, in fact, a kayaking club meet point where we awoke to being boxed in by angry French men wielding paddles and oars. Wisely, we played dead and remained in the safety of the Van until they made their way to the water. After breakfast we did the same and took the kayak out for another spin. The jagged cliffs provided the perfect place to build up our cliff jumping experience as we dived off higher and higher ledges into the crystal clear sea. Around the corner was a quiet beach with a lot of fish to spy on through the lenses of the snorkel and a good spot for Bani to work on his tan. On our way back we scaled higher ledges and finally plucked up the courage for one last jump off the first spot we eyed up on our paddle out. It was on this final jump that horror struck. After I lead the way off the face of the cliff multiple times, Bani finally summoned the courage to take the plunge- especially after a 10 year old kid ran up and showed him up. After a couple of jumps he started to get cocky and decided he would film his drop on my Go Pro. So I chucked it along to him and watched him drop off. As I peered over the edge and saw him reemerge from the blue waters there wasn’t anything in his hand and just a look of shock on his face. He knew he’d lost it and we both knew we were never getting it back as it was simply to deep to swim down to and neither of us had any idea where it was. Still, he put on the snorkel and frantically paddled about searching for the device only coming up for a rest and another apology. Luckily I didn’t entirely blame him as it was the strap that came loose and it could of happened to me so we rowed back to the van. The camera now resides at the bottom of the sea in that particular stretch of shore in the South of France, and with it, the irrecoverable videos of us plummeting off the cliffs of Calanque.