World Wild Schooling - Cassis, France | Best Things to Do | Where to Stay -

Cassis, France | Best Things to Do | Where to Stay

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If you’re looking for a perfect summer holidays spot in the south of France, look no further than Cassis, France. This charming small town is located on the Mediterranean coast and has everything you need for a relaxing and exciting vacation.

From beautiful beaches to boat tours to local wines, Cassis has it all. In this guide, we’ll take you through the best things to do in Cassis, including some hidden gems that you won’t want to miss, where to stay, and practical tips to plan your visit.

In a Nutshell

Introduction to Cassis – The Perfect Summer Getaway

Cassis is a small town located on the French Riviera along the Mediterranean coast, just east of Marseille. It’s known for its beautiful beaches, limestone cliffs, and charming harbor. The town is situated at the base of Cap Canaille, the highest sea cliff in France, which provides stunning views of the surrounding area.

Cassis is the perfect summer getaway spot for anyone who loves the beach, outdoor activities, and good food and wine. The town has a laid-back vibe that makes it one of the best places in southern France to relax and unwind. With its warm climate and turquoise waters, it’s easy to see why Cassis is a popular destination for tourists.

Good to know
Cassis is the French word for blackcurrant, a small black berry.

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Best Time to Visit Cassis

The perfect time to visit Cassis for a beach vacation is during the summer months, from June to September. These months are the warmest and sunniest, with temperatures averaging around 25°C (77°F). The water is also warm enough for swimming during this time.

If you can visit during the week in the summer, you will have a much better experience, as Cassis is an especially popular weekend destination.

If you’re looking to avoid the crowds, it’s best to visit the small fishing village in the shoulder season, late spring and May and October. The weather is still pleasant during these months, and you’ll have a better chance of finding accommodation at a lower price.

How Long to Stay in Cassis

Cassis Town is relatively small and you can see the main attractions on a day trip from nearby cities, such as Marseille or Aix-en-Provence.

To see all that the fishing village of Cassis has to offer in a more relaxed way, it’s recommended that you stay for at least two days. This will give you enough time to explore the town, go on a boat trip and visit the nearby Calanques National Park.

If you have more time, you can easily spend a week on the beach in Cassis. The town has a relaxed vibe, so it’s the perfect place to unwind and take your time. However, if you want to explore more towns and cities in Southern France, then you would be better off to locate yourself more centrally.

How to Get to Cassis

Guided Tour

The easiest way to see Cassis as a day trip is with a guided tour. Not only is it hassle-free, you will also get to know about the history of the area.

  • This highly rated day tour from Marseille covers Cassis and Aix-en-Provence with an optional boat tour in Cassis to see the calanques.

Book a day tour from Marseille to Cassis and Aix-en-Provence

  • This day tour from Aix-en-Provence takes you to Cassis and to the Luberon villages.

Book a day tour from Aix-en-Provence to Cassis and Luberon

By Car

The easiest way to get to Cassis is by car. The town is located about 25 kilometers (15 miles) east of Marseille and is easily accessible from the A50 highway. A rental car will give you the flexibility to explore other coastal towns that are not as easy to reach without a car, but you don’t need a car for Cassis itself.

Parking in the center of Cassis is difficult during the high season, ie summer. It’s recommended that you park at Parking Relais des Gorguettes and from there take the shuttle bus to the center of Cassis. The exact location is here ad you can find more details on the official website here.

We always use this search engine to find the best car rental deal. They compare all major companies, like Hertz, Sixt, Europcar, and more, and you get the lowest price. The earlier you book a car, the lower the price. You also get free cancelation up to 48 hours before pick up, which is great if anything happens

Search for rental car deals here

By Plane

If you’re flying into the area, the closest airport is Marseille Provence Airport, which is about 50 kilometers (31 miles) from Cassis.

We compare all airlines with this search engine to get the lowest price possible for flights. You can also set ‘Everywhere’ as destination and it gives you the cheapest flight anywhere on any given day or find out when is the lowest price to fly to a specific destination.

Search for flights here

We always use this highly-rated pickup service with local English-speaking drivers. The ride costs a flat, pre-paid fee, they are monitoring for flight delays and they provide stellar 24/7 customer support

Book your airport pickup here

By Train and Bus

There are regular trains from Marseille to Cassis. There are also local buses that run between Cassis and Marseille.

Gare de Cassis (Train Station of Cassis) is easily reachable from Marseille by train in about 40 minutes. Then from the train station to Cassis Port, you can either take a bus or walk for half an hour.

If you prefer to take a bus from Marseille to Cassis, then you can take it from Castellane in Marseille. It takes approximately one hour.

How to Get around Cassis

Cassis is a small town that’s easy to explore on foot. The town center is pedestrianized, so you can walk around without worrying about traffic. If you want to explore the surrounding area, it’s best to rent a car or take a boat tour.

Where to Stay in Cassis

Whether you’re looking for luxury accommodation or a budget-friendly option, Cassis has something for everyone. Here are our top picks for where to stay in Cassis:

€€€ Hotel Les Roches Blanches is a five-star luxury hotel located on the beachfront. It has a spa and wellness center with a steam room and a hammam, two swimming pools, and a restaurant.

See photos and availability here

€€ Hotel de la Plage Mahogany is a three-star hotel located on Plage du Bestouan. It has a pool, a spa and wellness center with a sauna, and a restaurant with a terrace overlooking the sea.

See photos and availability here

Hotel Le Golfe is a two-star hotel located in the town center. It’s a simple hotel with clean rooms and a great location.

See photos and availability here

If you stay centrally in Cassis, you’ll be close to the town center and the beach.

Top Things to Do in Cassis

Cassis has plenty of things to see and do, from exploring the town to going on a boat tour. Here are our top picks for things to do in Cassis:

Port of Cassis

Port de Cassis is a small, yet beautiful fishing port that is nestled in the heart of Cassis, under the Chateau de Cassis. It is a picturesque location that is well-known for its pastel-colored houses, which give it a charming and quaint ambiance. The port is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike, and it is a must-visit if you are in the area.

One of the most striking features of Port de Cassis is the abundance of restaurants that line the port. These restaurants offer a range of cuisines to cater to all tastes, and they provide an excellent opportunity to sample some of the local dishes. Whether you are looking for fresh seafood, traditional French cuisine, or something more exotic, you will find it all in the restaurants at Port de Cassis.

Another highlight of Port de Cassis is the boats that are moored in the port. These boats add to the overall charm of the location, and they provide a picturesque backdrop for your vacation photos. If you have the time, you can take a boat tour of the area, which will give you a unique perspective of the port and its surrounding calanques (see details further below).

Overall, Port de Cassis is a beautiful location that offers visitors a chance to experience the charm and beauty of a small fishing port. With its pastel-colored houses, abundance of restaurants, and boats, it is a destination that is well worth a visit.

Wander in the Old Town

Cassis is a charming coastal village located in the south of France that is known for its picturesque harbor, crystal-clear waters, and beautiful surroundings. While the harbor is undoubtedly the main attraction, there is so much more to explore in this idyllic town.

If you’re looking to experience the authentic side of Cassis, then a visit to the old town is a must. Wander through the back roads and little alleys, and you’ll discover a world of hidden gems waiting to be explored. The beautiful tiny pastel streets are a delight to explore, and there are plenty of charming cafes and restaurants to stop at along the way.

One of the most beautiful spots in Cassis is Place Baragnon. This quaint little square is surrounded by colorful buildings and is the perfect spot to stop and soak up the atmosphere of the town. Whether you’re looking to people-watch or simply take in the stunning surroundings, Place Baragnon is not to be missed.

There is a playground in the little park next to Place Baragnon, Jardin Public de Cassis. It’s not big, but our kids loved it and it’s shaded.

Overall, a visit to the old town of Cassis is a must for anyone looking to experience the authentic side of this beautiful coastal town.

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Top Beaches in Cassis

Cassis is known for its beautiful beaches, and there are several to choose from. Here are our top picks:

Plage de la Grande Mer

Plage de la Grande Mer is a lifeguarded beach located next to the port. It’s one of the most beautiful beaches. Usually it is crowded during the peak season, ie summer. It is one of the best beaches for families, as it is so easy to access and there are lots of cafes and restaurants nearby.

There is also a cafe/restaurant right on the beach, Bada. They serve drinks and food with a great view.

Plage du Bestouan

Plage du Bestouan is a lifeguarded pebble beach with an ice cream stand, a restaurant, and a hotel. It has pebbles and is a good beach for families, as similarly to Plage de la Grande Mer it is easily accessible. There is a cafe/restaurant on the beach here as well and ice cream across the street.

Plage du Corton

Plage du Corton is rocky (bring water shoes, if you have them) and there are stairs to get to there. The beach is located next to a paid parking lot, so it’s easier to park compared to Plage de l’Arène.

It is easily accessible for families with young children. You can rent a kayak there, and it can get crowded, as it is so narrow.

Plage de l’Arène

Plage de l’Arène is a very small rocky beach with gorgeous views. It’s not recommended for families, as there are huge rocks in the water. The path looks like it’s closed with a barrier, there are stairs to get to the beach and there’s limited parking.

Can You Swim in the Calanques?

While the beaches in Cassis are beautiful, the real gems are the Calanques. These are limestone cliffs that line the coast and have hidden coves with turquoise waters. Calanque de Port Miou and Calanque d’en Vau are two of the most beautiful calanques in the area.

The three big calanques are the Calanque de Port Miou, Calanque d’en Vau and the Calanque de Port Pin.

In the Calanques National Park, the well-known bathing locations like Saint-Estève, Sormiou, Sugiton, En-Vau and Port-Pin. are quite a challenge to reach, and they tend to be overcrowded during summers.

Moreover, there are no facilities like shops, water points, toilets, or bins available. During summers, only Sormiou and Saint-Estève beaches are monitored by authorities to ensure safety.

For families the beaches in Cassis mentioned above, especially Plage de la Grande Mer and Plage du Bestouan, are more accessible options with lots of restaurants and facilities nearby.

Calanque de Port Miou Beach

The Cassis district boasts only one calanque despite popular belief, which goes by the name Port-Miou. This inlet stretches over 1,400 meters and is hugged by towering cliffs, making it the furthest eastern calanque in the region between Marseille and Cassis.

The narrow inlet of Calanque de Port Miou is home to a marina. It’s a great place to go for a walk and explore the cliffs. The Calanque de Port Miou is the most easily accessible as you can reach it from a nearby parking, but definitely not the most ideal for swimming.

While the passage has undergone changes over time due to natural erosion, it is worth noting that humans have also played a role in its current form. These intriguing details make Port-Miou a fascinating and unique location to explore.

Calanque de Port Pin Beach

The Calanque de Port-Pin shares similar features with its neighboring calanques, such as En-Vau towards the west and Port-Miou towards the east. Due to being a beautiful and easily accessible spot, the calanque tends to get pretty crowded during summers.

Good to know
Port Pin was named after the pine trees that surround it, as pin means pine tree in French.

To reach Port-Pin, start from Cassis town centre and walk for around 45 minutes. Alternatively, take a shuttle from Cassis to Port-Miou calanque and then continue on foot to Port-Pin.

From Port-Pin, it’s possible to hike to En-Vau, but keep in mind that the trail can be very challenging, especially during the summer due to steep terrain.

Calanque d’en Vau Beach

Calanque d’en Vau is a hidden cove with turquoise waters. It’s only accessible by foot or boat, but it’s worth the effort to get there. The hike to Calanque d’en Vau is about an hour each way, but the views are breathtaking.

The beach is pristine with clear waters, but it can get overcrowded in the summer.

Exploring the Calanques

Boat Tours in the Calanques

One of the best ways to explore the Calanques is by boat. Visiting the calanques by boat is definitely the easiest option with little kids, although that way you miss the amazing viewpoints you can reach with the hike.

However, the views are stunning from the boat as well! Highly recommend a boat tour to see the calanques as the first thing to do in Cassis even if you’re visiting for one day. We were quite surprised by the scenery; the limestone cliffs reminded us strongly of our trip to Phuket.

Several boat tours depart from the port of Cassis and take you to see the Calanques. You can buy tickets at the ticket booth near the tourist office and right opposite the tour boats half an hour before departure. Reservation is not possible. You can find the exact location here and info on boat tours with prices here.

You can choose how long the tour will be based on how many Calanques you want to see. There are different options from seeing the 3 biggest calanques (Port Miou, Port Pin, and en Vau) which would take you about one hour to seeing all 9 of them which would take about 2 hours and 20 minutes.

We opted for the 8 calanques tour and in our experience two hours in the boat was a bit of a stretch with two little kids. The three main calanques are the first three that you see by boat, so that would be my recommendation with kids.

World Wild Schooling - Cassis, France | Best Things to Do | Where to Stay -

Hiking to the Calanques

The Cassis peninsula in France is home to some of the most breathtaking natural wonders, the calanques. The National Park located here is a must-visit for anyone seeking an adventure in the great outdoors. The hike to Calanque d’en Vau is the most popular, but there are several other hiking trails among pine trees to explore.

We highly recommend a guided tour for the hike to the calanques such as this hiking tour with a local guide. This ensures your safety and provides you with valuable information about the area.

Book a hiking tour with a local guide here

World Wild Schooling - Cassis, France | Best Things to Do | Where to Stay -
The beginning of the hiking path at Port-Miou towards the three big calanques

The entrance to the park is a short 30-minute walk from the town center of Cassis, making it easily accessible to tourists and locals alike. Once inside, visitors can explore the stunning Calanque de Port-Miou, which is just a short walk away.

If you are planning to hike all the way to Calanque d’en Vau, you might want to consider taking the bus from Cassis to Port Miou, as this means not hiking a less attractive part of the way and saving half an hour.

For those who crave a bit more adventure, the Calanque de Port-Pin is just a 15-minute hike from the entrance. The trek is well worth it, as the views from the top are simply breathtaking.

For the truly adventurous, the Calanque d’En-Vau is a must-see. However, the hike to this remote location can take up to an hour and is not for the faint of heart. The climb is steep and challenging, and it’s important to be prepared with proper hiking gear and plenty of water.

A guided hiking tour is the best way to experience the incredible location of Calanque d’en Vau, as it ensures your safety and provides you with valuable information about the area.

Book a hiking tour with a local guide here

Overall, the National Park at the Cassis peninsula is a must-visit for anyone seeking adventure and natural beauty. From the Calanque de Port-Miou to the Calanque d’En-Vau, there is something for everyone here. Just be sure to take the necessary precautions and consider a guided tour for a safe and informative experience.

Tips for Hiking to the Calanques

If you’re planning a hike, it’s important to be prepared.

Make sure you bring along plenty of water to stay hydrated. Don’t forget to apply some sun protection and wear sturdy shoes to avoid any potential foot injuries. Additionally, bring some snacks or food to keep your energy levels up. Finally, don’t forget a rubbish bag to help keep the environment clean.

Happy hiking!

Good to know
To safeguard the natural surroundings and ensure the safety of visitors from possible fire hazards, the Calanques may be inaccessible from June 1 to September 30. It’s important to take these measures to maintain the beauty of the area and guarantee the welfare of all those who come to explore it.

The official app is helpful with live updates on whether trails are closed. You can find the app here and the official maps for the trails here.

Water Sports to the Calanques: SUP & Kayak

If you want to explore the Calanques up close, there are several water sports you can try. Kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding are popular options, as they allow you to explore the coves at your own pace.

  • This stand-up paddleboarding tour (SUP) starts from Port-Miou and explores the three big calanques, Calanque de Port-Miou, Calanque de Port-Pin and Calanque d’en Vau with a swimming break.

Book a stand-up paddleboarding tour here

  • This kayaking tour covers also the three big calanques as the SUP tour and also Essaïdon. It is suitable for kids 6+ years old.

Book a kayaking tour here

If you’re a certified diver, you can also go scuba diving in the Calanques. You can find more info here.

More Ways to Enjoy the Calanques: Rock Climbing and Cycling

  • If you enjoy rock climbing, then the limestone cliffs around the Massif des Calanques will be a paradise for you! Rock climbing the calanques is suitable for kids older than 6 years old.

Book a climbing day tour here

Book a mountain e-bike tour here

Route des Crêtes & Cap Canaille: Best Views of the Mediterranean Sea

If you want the best views of the Mediterranean Sea, head to Cap Canaille. It’s the highest sea cliff in France and provides stunning views of the coast.

The Route des Crêtes provides a breathtaking view of the sea as it runs along the edge of Cap Canaille, stretching from the Gulf of Cassis to the Gulf of the sleepy town of La Ciotat.

To fully appreciate the stunning scenery, car parks are available for visitors to park and take a leisurely stroll along the cliffs. It’s a truly magical place, offering a complete change of scenery.

However, it’s important to note that the Route des Crêtes is closed during periods of strong wind for safety reasons.

The official app is helpful with live updates on whether this mountain road is closed. You can find the app here and the official maps for the trails here.

Château de Cassis

Château de Cassis is a grand 13th-century building and it sits atop a hill providing stunning views of the sea. The chateau is a luxurious bed and breakfast today and it is located just a short 7-minute stroll away from the Plage de la Mer, the main beach of Cassis.

The château is not open to the public, but you can admire it from afar!

Explore the History of Cassis

Around 600 to 500 BC, the Ligures were the first occupants of the present-day Cassis site. They built a secure abode at the peak of Baou Redon and their livelihoods involved fishing, hunting, and agriculture.

Once a bustling maritime hub during Roman times along Emperor Antoninus Pius’ route, fishing and maritime trade with North Africa and the Middle East were the primary sources of income for the locals.

During the period from the 5th to 10th centuries AD, the population of Cassis sought refuge in a fortified city called Castrum due to invasions by foreign tribes. This city came under the ownership of Seigneurie des Les Baux-de-Provence in 1223. Later in the 15th century, Cassis was handed over to the Counts of Provence and then to the Bishops of Marseille by René of Anjou who ruled the town until the Revolution of 1789.

In the 18th century, Cassis expanded beyond the ramparts and around the port, leading to the development of new industries such as drying of cod, olive oil and clothing manufacturing, coral work, wine-making, and local stone exploitation. The town became famous for its stone, which had been quarried since ancient times.

With the disappearance of these industries in the 20th century, the workforce turned towards tourism and wine-making. Cassis was among the first three vineyards to benefit from the appellation d’origi.

Cassis Markets

We love French markets! If you are a fan too, head over to the Cassis markets for some local flavor. Yes, markets in plural, as there are several local markets on different market days.

  • The weekly market takes place on Wednesday and Friday mornings in the historic center around Place Baragnon. Here, you’ll find everything from fresh produce to handmade crafts, all sold by friendly vendors who are happy to chat with visitors.
  • For a taste of the sea, check out the small fish market at Quai des Baux, which is open every morning. Local fishermen sell their catch and it’s the best way to get fresh fish.
  • And on Saturdays, the farmer’s market at Place Clemenceau is a must-visit for foodies and anyone interested in locally-sourced goods.
  • Finally, don’t miss the evening market, which takes place every night during the summer in the historic center. This craftsman’s market is a great place to pick up unique souvenirs and gifts, while also supporting local artists and artisans.

With so many markets to choose from, there’s something for everyone in Cassis!

Cassis Tourist Train

If you’re looking for a fun and educational activity for your kids while on vacation, look no further than the tourist train in Cassis!

This 45-minute guided tour is a great way to see the sights of the town while keeping little ones entertained. Departing from the port, the train takes passengers on a journey through the winding streets of Cassis, with commentary available in both French and English.

Kids will love the novelty of riding in a train, and parents can sit back and relax while taking in the beautiful scenery.

Right next to Plage de la Grande Mer you can find a carousel and occasionally some more attractions for kids.

There is a small playground in the park in the center of Cassis, at Jardin Public de Cassis right next to Place Baragnon. It’s not much, but it was handy for our little ones.

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Another playground is on your way out of the town here with great view – see Cap Canaille in the back! This is a small local playground that is not closed to anything else, don’t go out of your way for it – just thought I’d mention it in case it’s needed.

Best Restaurants and Places to Eat in Cassis

Cassis is known for its seafood, so it’s no surprise that the best local restaurants specialize in fish and seafood. Here are our top picks for places to eat in Cassis:

  • La Villa Madie: This Michelin-starred restaurant is located on the outskirts of town and has stunning views of the coast. They serve a modern French menu with a focus on local ingredients. If you would like to splurge, this is the place to do it.
  • La Nonna D’oro: This restaurant is located right on the port with a great view of the marina and the Chateau de Cassis. It has a great seafood menu featuring local food and also a great wine list featuring local wines.

There are several restaurants in the little alleys to choose from and around the port, like Chez GIlbert that is famous for its bouillabaisse (fish soup).

Enjoy the Local Wines of Cassis

Cassis is known for its white wines, which are made from the Marsanne and Clairette grapes. Two of the main wineries in Cassis are Clos Sainte Magdeleine and Domaine du Bagnol, where you can have a glass of wine in the right season (contact them in advance to avoid disappointment).

Clos Sainte Magdeleine is located on a hill overlooking the sea and produces some of the best white wines in the area. Domaine du Bagnol is located in the town center – and I just couldn’t not take a photo of the vineyards with the Cap Canaille in the background.

Most of the wineries in Cassis are family businesses and you can visit them either directly or from Aix-en-Provence with a tour, like this guided tour with a boat ride to the calanques and wine tasting. If you prefer a private tour, then this private tour that includes a boat ride and wine tasting is a good option. If you are only interested in wine tours, then this half-day tour to Bandol and Cassis is the most suitable one.

Good to know
Every year around mid-May a wine festival takes place in Cassis named Cassis fête son vin. You can find more details on the official page here.

Conclusion – Why Cassis is a Great Place for a Summer Getaway

Cassis is the perfect summer getaway spot for anyone who loves the beach, outdoor activities, and good food and wine. From beautiful beaches to boat tours to local wines, Cassis has something for everyone. Whether you’re looking for a day trip or a longer vacation, Cassis is a great place to visit on the Mediterranean coast of southern France.

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