Cassis is tucked, like a pearl, along the Mediterranean coast in southern France. Situated in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region of France, Cassis is located just east of Marseille. There has been a settlement at Cassis since Roman times. It’s no wonder. Cassis has dry, hot weather, the allure of the Mediterranean Sea, the Calanques de Cassis, and a breezy pace of life.
I had never heard of “calanques” before a French friend told me the Calanques de Cassis were a must-do on a visit to Provence. Much like a fiord, magnificent limestone cliffs soar sky-high and are punctuated with slim inlets where the Mediterranean Sea laps the shore. These Calanques de Cassis are a marvelous landscape to appreciate and explore. For me, seeing the Calanques de Cassis was a highlight of my visit to Cassis.
Cassis, France, is the perfect place to spend a few days. Cobbled streets wind their way past colorful houses and trendy boutiques. The sea beckons and gastronomic delights await the visitor to Cassis. It’s southern France at its best!
Before you head off to Cassis, how on earth do you pronounce the name of this fishing village? Some say Cassis pronouncing the s at the end. Others will tell you not to say the s. I’ve asked my French friends. They say both are correct.
Things To Do In Cassis
A trip to Cassis can be tailored exactly to your desires. Relax by the shore, shop in the boutiques, hike the nearby Calanques de Cassis, or simply sit at a table in the lively port and observe life.
Enjoy The Port Of Cassis
Pastel facades are dotted with wooden shutters facing the port. Sailboats bob in their slips. The morning parade of fishing vessels unloading their catch makes the port of Cassis a splendid place to people watch. Photographers will not be able to get enough of this postcard-perfect setting.
There are plenty of cafes and restaurants in the port, so grab a wicker chair and settle in. Breathe the salty Mediterranean air and sip a coffee or a glass of local white wine.
Take A Boat Tour Of The Calanques De Cassis
Right in the main port on Quai Saint-Pierre, you will find the ticket booth for boat tours to the Calanques de Cassis. This is a very popular thing to do, and the boats leave frequently. You’ll have to decide how many calanques (inlets) you want to visit. The tour boats do not enter the narrow inlets but hover at the entranceway, giving you plenty of time to observe the incredible natural landscapes. The excursions range from 45 minutes up to two hours. Some of the boat tours include the opportunity to swim in the Mediterranean Sea.
Once on the tour boat, settle back with your camera, marvel at the turquoise waters, and be awed by the sheer height of the limestone cliffs.
You can also enjoy the Calanques de Cassis by:
Hiking the Calanques de Cassis is a wonderful way to see the magnificent limestone cliffs and inlets from a different perspective. The hiking trails run along the top of the cliffs, where the views over the Mediterranean Sea are spectacular. The trails then lead downhill to a series of inlets where you’ll find boat harbors, such as at Port-Miou, and the perfect flat rock to have a picnic and a swim by the sea. Aleppo pine trees cling precariously to the cliffs giving off a glorious pine scent to accompany you on the trail!
You be the judge of how far you want to hike. Hikes in the Calanques de Cassis range from short to a full day. Here are some suggested hikes.
- The hiking trails consist of loose stones and are steep. Wear hiking boots or sturdy runners and leave early in the morning to beat the heat. Bring plenty of water and snacks as there are no services available on the hiking trails.
- The hiking trails of the Calanques de Cassis are often closed by the end of June due to dry weather and fire hazard. Check before planning a day of hiking that the trails are open.
For those travelers who love to paddle, kayaking the Calanques de Cassis is another way to get up close and personal with this unique landscape. Kayaking tours are available and recommended, as opposed to going on your own, for the waters in the Mediterranean Sea can be wild on a windy day. Get all the kayaking information here.
A 40-minute guided tour takes you from in front of the tourist office in Cassis to the first calanque at Port-Miou. Get all the information here.
Peruse The Cassis Market
Time your visit for the Wednesday or Friday market day in Cassis. Stalls line the cobbled streets with artisanal goods, Provençal goodies, linen clothing, stunning tablecloths, soaps from Marseille, and lavender products. Stroll, chat to the vendors, and fill your basket in classic Provençal market style!
Relax On The Beaches Of Cassis
There is a beach right in the center of town, Plage de la Grande Mer, which makes swimming and sunbathing very accessible.
Walk a little further to discover Bestouan Beach. Also very popular on a hot summer day, this stone beach is a classic French Mediterranean beach. Filled with sunbathers and swimmers, save your spot with your beach towel in the morning. This beach is in the perfect location for a swim on the way back from hiking the Calanques de Cassis.
Taste The Local Wine In Cassis
Sampling the delicious and fruity white Cassis wine as an aperitif or accompanying a meal might intrigue you to go straight to the source! There are twelve wine estates in and around Cassis that produce award-winning white wines. Arrange an outing to a nearby vineyard to sample their wine and visit their wine cellars.
Drive The Route Des Crêtes
Driving the Route des Crêtes is an unforgettable and magical experience. The Route des Crêtes (the Corniche des Crêtes) is an 8-mile stretch of steep narrow highway running along the clifftop known as Cap Canaille between Cassis and the town of La Ciotat. The road is one of the most picturesque in Europe. Expect a lot of switchbacks. There is parking space at the viewpoints along the route to enjoy the breathtaking vistas.
Best Restaurants In Cassis
The sun is hot, the sea is sparkling, and the pace is slow. This is life by the Mediterranean. Experience the food in Cassis in the same manner. Take your time. Savor the southern France flavors. Fresh herbs and garlic abound along with olives and anchovies. Try Soupe au Pistou (the Provençal version of minestrone) or Bouillabaisse (fish stew). Bouillabaisse is an experience unto itself served in two parts. The soup is served on slices of French bread, and the fish on a separate dish. Share a panisse, a pancake made from chickpea flour, a true local specialty. And be sure to pair your choices with a Cassis wine or a Provençal rose.
There are plenty of restaurants in Cassis. These two won’t disappoint.
La Villa Madie
Villa Madia is located on Avenue de Revestel-anse de Corton in Cassis. If you are looking for an exceptional gastronomic experience on this holiday, then La Villa Madie will be a thrill. Dining at this 2-starred Michelin restaurant with its stunning view over the Mediterranean Sea will be unforgettable.
Situated right in Cassis’s colorful port, dining at Nino, located at 1 Quai Barthélémy, is sure to please. From the view to the service and delectable seafood dishes, a meal at Nino’s is highly recommended.
Best Hotels In Cassis
Château de Cassis
If you’ve always wanted to stay in a chateau, then you’ve come to the right place. The Château de Cassis sits atop a cliff overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Looking for luxury in Cassis? Look no further.
Le Clos Des Arômes
If you are looking for something within walking distance to the center of Cassis, Le Clos des Arômes will suit your style. Its lovely terrace and garden are perfect for relaxing after a day of sightseeing or hiking the Calanques.
- Cassis is a very popular destination for both French travelers and tourists. Try to plan your visit in a shoulder season (June or September).
- Parking can be limited in the summer. Check with your accommodation about the best place to park. If you are just spending the day in Cassis, arrive early.