The Calanques

I have always dreamed about finding a secret spot along the ocean that only the locals know about; a special cove that is breathtakingly beautiful and defines relaxation and tranquility. Pictures on Pinterest egged on this fantasy and I always wished to discover a place so magical amongst nature. On my European adventure this semester, I have finally found this place. It is called the Calanques. This newfound treasure of mine is located in Marseilles, France and they are actually quite a well known landmark, a National Park for that matter! I was in a specific part called Sugiton and it was beyond any expectation I’d ever had. Talk about dreams coming true!

The journey to the Calanques was half of the fun, especially when the group I was with knew we were getting closer and the anticipation was very high. Our hike to the ocean had some wrong turns involved but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. We started on the main path for about 20 minutes and at an intersection we decided to turn left in hopes it would lead us to the waterfront. After a good 20 minutes more we realized we weren’t progressing down in any way and were instead high above the water. However, the views were spectacular and I’m so glad we chose this ‘wrong’ path as it added to the adventure. Returning to the intersection we then got on the ‘right’ path as it appeared to be heading downward. I then knew this was where we were supposed to be. (In fact my first instinct from the beginning was to choose this path, so a lesson learned is always trust your intuition!) From this point onward I was so excited to get down to the water I could barely contain myself. It was hot out, we were sweaty from the hike, and the idea of jumping in water sounded absolutely marvelous. I almost just started running but continued to hike at a ‘Mikaela’ pace which is what I’d call fast walking with purpose. Other people on the path looked beach ready and I knew we’d be seeing some water soon! At last our first sights of the water emerged and I was in awe. I couldn’t fathom what beauty I laid my eyes on! The views were just impeccable and I knew I was in for the most perfect afternoon that I could have ever imagined. 

The water was very cold but there was no way that would stop me! I gradually forced myself in and went swimming around the cove. The whole time I gazed all around me marveling at the endless sea, infatuated by the big rock formations, and intrigued by all the people mutually enjoying this experience. They could have all been French, or visitors like me too, but I’d only hope nobody was taking this all for granted. It was too enchanting. Being at this place was a treat and I couldn’t have asked for a more sunny, pleasant afternoon. 

I also did a little cliff jumping! Our Canadian friend that we spontaneously met on this hike tested out the water since there were rocks to watch out for. The coast was clear and my friend Maddie and I stood atop the jump for a solid 5 minutes between sentences of, “I’m so scared! and “let’s just do it!” At last Maddie made the first move and jumped and I followed seconds after. It was totally thrilling and I am proud to say I pushed pass my fears and took a literal leap of faith! It didn’t look that high from afar but it always feels different when you’re actually up there.

I think everyone can relate to the fact that when you are enjoying yourself so much time doesn’t even matter. I could not tell you how long we stayed because time stopped that afternoon. No other thoughts consumed my mind other than “wow. I can’t believe I’m really at this beautiful place. I never want to leave.” I rarely have moments like this where all my other thoughts just disappear into nonexistence. It’s usually in this same pattern when I’m dumbfounded by nature and I’m mesmerized by the environment around me. You could call it pure bliss, or eternal happiness. This state of mind captured me into the present moment where I relished every piece of matter in my eyesight. Obviously I was overwhelming grateful to be where I was.

As all good things must come to an end, I had to say goodbye to my sanctuary. The sunlight literally glimmered on the water that day making it the most brilliant afternoon I’d ever witnessed. I felt warm, fulfilled, and cheerful. As we walked farther and farther away I kept looking back to make sure it was all really real and to get my last looks in. I wanted that image encaptured in my memory forever. I never wanted to let go and release this profound joy I was given. The Calanques had indeed captivated me beyond measure. I’m now left with my pictures, memories, and hopefullness that I will once again return one day. I’m more than lucky, I am blessed. God bless this journey that led me towards a glimpse of heaven. 


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