Cassis is a quaint little fishing harbour with pastel-coloured houses overlooking the water and small boats swaying quietly in the bay.
Behind it, a spectacular rocky promontory topped by a castle, now a luxury hotel, dominates the old town and gives the village an old-world charm. Tourists experience the same magic as in Saint-Tropez but without the hordes of crowds and with much more tranquillity.
The village stretches along the port and is organised around rue Victor Hugo. Stroll along its shady squares, cobbled streets and flights of steps. Along the way, admire the fountain in Place de la République (18th century), the Villa Ariane, an elegant 19th-century residence with a Greek-style garden and lily pond, which now houses the municipal library.
From the village, you can see Cassis Castle overlooking the bay. Built in the Middle Ages, the castle has been converted into luxurious rooms for hotel guests. Tours are only available in winter by prior arrangement.
The harbour is one of the unmissable places in Cassis. This charming spot is the ideal place to enjoy all the little pleasures of a seaside resort. With its numerous cafés, restaurants and shops, you will be spoilt for choice: have a drink on the terrace, taste local specialities such as bouillabaisse, the typical Provençal fish soup, or find an authentic gift in the many craft shops overlooking the sea. In the evening, the port comes alive with an inimitable atmosphere thanks to musicians, street vendors, children’s rides and street performers.
On the other hand, every morning local boats, the pointus, dock on the quays to sell fish and seafood at auction: Provençal flair guaranteed.
Also from the port, you can organise an excursion in the company of a local guide, who will take you by boat to discover the natural beauty of the area, the calanques.
Located in the famous Place Baragnon, the Cassis Museum of Art and Popular Traditions opens its doors to tourists from Wednesday to Sunday.
Founded in 1910, it is located in the heart of a presbytery dating back to the 18th century. Here you will discover the history of the city, but also its many talented local artists. Through various exhibitions, you will cross the centuries among paintings, sculptures and archaeological and ethnological objects.
One of the must-do activities in Cassis is to taste the region’s famous wines. With its aromas of citrus, honey and white flowers, Cassis wine goes well with the shellfish brought back by the fishermen. The vines are planted in the shelter of Cap Canaille, the highest cliff in France.
And to savour the area’s best production, there is no better place than the Clos Sainte Magdeleine. Covering more than 20 hectares, the estate has been cultivating its vineyards facing the sea for almost 800 years. Guided tours and tastings are available to introduce you to the local wine culture and its pleasures.
History has it that this was the site of a land of vines nicknamed the Arena. The Clos Sainte-Magdeleine has been renovated several times, especially after the disaster caused by the phylloxera parasite, which devastated the crops.
Today, the estate is open to the public and houses a substantial vineyard as well as numerous wine cellars. It produces high quality wines that tourists are happy to taste. You will also be surprised by the exceptional view overlooking the Mediterranean.
Located right in the centre of town, in Place Baragnon, a stone’s throw from the harbour, the market takes place every Wednesday and Friday.
Some 40 producers and traders come to stock their stalls with succulent regional specialities ranging from tapenade to natural soaps, from seafood to flowers, in an atmosphere rich in colour and flavour.
In the heart of the centre, there is a place that is very popular with the locals: Place Baragnon. All kinds of events and activities are regularly organised in this emblematic place of the city. Between the Christmas market, the skating rink or interesting photo exhibitions, you will always find excitement on all occasions.
The square also has numerous benches, on which you can relax peacefully in the open air, with a good book in hand. With its hundred-year-old trees, it is a place full of life where culture, nature, architecture and entertainment come together.
Cap Canaille is only a few hundred metres above sea level, but this reddish rocky promontory is certainly one of the best places in the region.
It is reached by following a pretty coastal path that connects Cassis to La Ciotat, where hiking enthusiasts will appreciate the majesty of the place. In addition to the view of the creeks, you can admire the famous Soubeyranes cliffs: with their 394-metre-high peak, they are the highest sea cliffs in France and are among the most colossal in Europe.
Located near Cap Canaille, the highest cliff in Europe, the Route des Crêtes connects Cassis to La Ciotat and offers breathtaking views of the sea from the edge of the cliffs. There are several belvederes along this 7-kilometre promenade , which can also be travelled by car.
In particular, you can admire the bay of La Ciotat with the rocky peak of Bec de l’Aigle and its characteristic shape. Following the Route des Crêtes, you will reach the peaks of the Soubeyranes cliffs. Once at altitude, let yourself be seduced by the incredible panorama: worthy of a real postcard, the promontory overlooks the Bay of Cassis.
Along the way, you will also see the Cœur d’Honoré, a huge 7-hectare archaeological site: it preserves the ruins of a heart-shaped settlement. Finally, you cannot miss the sight of the so-called natural bridge, made up of rocks with almost magical shapes that give the impression of a natural arch. At more than 300 metres above sea level, visit the Semaphore dating back to 1791. It is a military area that guarantees the safety of boaters.
The Grande Mer beach is one of the largest in Cassis. Very busy during the summer season, it meets all the expectations of tourists.
Reachable on foot from the port, it offers a pleasant beach where fine sand, gravel and pebbles mix with a splendid view of Cassis Castle and enchanting turquoise waters.
Lovers of nautical activities will be happy to try out all kinds of sports, from pedal boats to windsurfing to kayaking, hiring equipment directly on site. The beach also offers several restaurants for sampling the tasty Provençal seafood cuisine.
Like la Grande Mer beach, Bestouan beach is the ideal place to relax with the family during the holidays.
Less than a 10-minute walk from the town centre, it allows you to leave your car parked and enjoy the fresh sea air. With its kilometres of fine sand and turquoise waters, it offers tourists an inimitable setting.
It is the ideal place for a day by the sea, sun and relaxation: the beach is equipped and boasts several restaurants, but in summer it is stormed by holidaymakers: you risk not finding a place and parking if you do not arrive very early. In the course of the day it becomes very crowded.
Unlike the most popular beaches in Cassis, Arène beach is much less crowded. The reason is simple: it is much wilder, unsupervised and consists mainly of pebbles.
If it is not really suitable for families with children, it will delight all those who love quiet corners surrounded by nature. Located to the east of the city centre, just below Cap Canaille, this place is a true haven of peace. In fact, completely untouched by mass tourism and large crowds, Arène beach is ideal for relaxing in the sun and swimming peacefully in the water.
If you like scuba diving, the place is perfect for exploring the seabed rich in fish.
Between Marseille and La Ciotat, you can visit more than 25 creeks, marvellous coves called calanques, characterised by unspoilt nature and turquoise sea: they are geological formations made up of a kind of small fjord with steep edges, into which the sea sinks directly. Port-Miou is the only one that is part of the municipality of Cassis.
It is distinguished from the other inlets by its large size and its relief, which is particularly jagged. It is also the only one that can be reached by car, provided you go very early in the morning to find parking. Once you enter the calanque, you will be able to stroll along a pretty wooden jetty that runs between the boats: a short walk will take you directly to a tiny sandy beach.
In the following map you can see the location of the main places of interest mentioned in this article
From Marseille to La Ciotat via Cassis, the Calanques National Park is an immense natural space made up of 25 creeks that stretch 85 kilometres in length, offering one of the most crystal-clear and enchanting seas in Provence. The park can be explored in different ways.
From Cassis, several routes are possible for a bicycle or walking tour. Remember that it is preferable not to venture there in strong winds: in any case, the park is closed in bad weather for safety reasons. Hiking shoes are also highly recommended. Access to the Calanques is regulated in summer due to the risk of fire.
Sea lovers will be able to discover the Calanques National Park from the sea: this is the perfect opportunity to enjoy a small trip on a private boat or boat, which runs all year round from the port of Cassis, every 30 minutes during the summer season.
The nearest calanque is that of Port-Miou. It takes about 30 minutes on foot. From there, you can continue to the Calanque de Port-Pin (40-minute walk) or for good walkers continue to the beautiful Calanque d’En-vau, a 1 hour 30-minute walk from Port-Miou.
Nestled at the foot of a spectacular rocky outcrop, framed by a 14th-century castle, this charming little fishing port attracts summer crowds of tourists who flock to the old port with its lively restaurants.
Sleeping in Cassis is generally accessible during the months of September to March, but as soon as summer arrives, tourists take the village by storm. Finding accommodation in Cassis becomes much more difficult, the high season drives up hotel prices in Cassis and B&Bs fill up quickly.
Alternatively, from Marseille airport, you can take a bus or train to the Marseille St Charles SNCF station: every 20 minutes, a TER regional train will take you to Cassis.
What's the weather at Cassis? Below are the temperatures and the weather forecast at Cassis for the next few days.
Cassis is located about 20 km east of Marseille, near Cap Canaille, one of the highest cliffs in Europe.