Seeing in the New Year in La Ciotat

The Hotel Rose Thé

When we left Ceréste, it was cold and fresh – just above the freezing mark, I would guess.  We dressed appropriately – lots of layers, topped off with fleecy sweaters and scarves.  We made sure we put coats, hats and gloves in the car, too – we expected to be doing some walking in La Ciotat.  To make a long story short, we stepped out of the car when we arrived and started shedding layers like a pair of peeling onions before making our way into the hotel to check in – it was a balmy 16C by the coast!

We had arranged to stay in the Hotel Rose Thé – same place as our friends – making sure to mention that we would have two small dogs with us when we made the booking.  Dogs are rarely a problem in French hotels, but it’s always a good idea to check!  The lady at the desk went through the check-in procedure, and was handing us our key when the LSH thought it would be a good idea to mention the dogs again.

“You know we have two small dogs,” he said.

“Oh!” the lady’s face fell. “You should have told me sooner!”

Oops.  Was she about to tell us that the hotel’s policy had changed and they no longer accepted dogs?  Some hotels reserve particular rooms for guests with dogs – was she about to take the key back and give us a different, doggy, room?  Nope, neither!

“I love dogs,” she continued “and the room I’ve given you is very small.”  She paused, clearly trying to figure out what was the best thing to do.  “It’s really too small for two dogs.  I can give you a bigger room for tonight, but you’ll have to change to the smaller room for the second night if that’s ok.  Come, I’ll show you.”

We all trooped upstairs to the third floor.  This was the ‘small’ room.  It had a little balcony overlooking the beach across the road, an ensuite and, truth be told, plenty of room for a dog bed for two small terriers.

“It’s fine!” we argued, but no, she insisted on showing us the bigger room.  Down we went, to the second floor.  She opened the door… to a much bigger, fancier room, with an enormous terrace outside overlooking the beach which had a HOT TUB in one corner!

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The terrace & hot tub!!

We were dumbstruck… but not for long!

And that’s how we somehow got a free room upgrade and ended up drinking mojitos looking out at the beach from our hot tub on the evening of December 30th!

I loved that hotel.  It was small and friendly, it had a real old-fashioned level of service and a feel of history about it.  It’s been there since 1932, and they have the photos on the wall to prove it!

More than that, though, all of the staff were really friendly and helpful – and determined to speak English!  There’s a nice restaurant attached to it, La Terrasse, where we ate lunch with our friends.  Then we set off to drive along the Route des Cretes which goes over the coastal cliffs between Cassis and La Ciotat.

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Towards Mont St Victoire

 The scenery was spectacular – rugged mountains all around, reaching away towards Toulon to the East and back to the distinctive Mont St Victoire to the North.

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There was a devastating forest fire here some years ago and the whole area has been replanted – it seems strange to see the trees neatly set out in rows and tiers on the hillsides.

We found a particularly nice spot on top of the cliffs from which we could catch a glimpse of Cassis and went for a walk while we waited there for sunset (click on any image for a larger version)

Finally, the sun started doing its thing…

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rather nicely, it must be said…

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It was very pretty looking up the coast towards Cassis.

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…and there was a very nice final fiery glow when the sun had dipped below the horizon.

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By the time all of the keen photographers in our party had finished snapping shots, it was almost dark.  Time for that session in the hot tub I mentioned.  And room service.  Because there’s nothing like a free upgrade to make you want to splash out and live it up.
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Aaaah.  What a nice end to the first day of our holiday!

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