With an attractive harbor and candy-colored seafront cottages, the fishing village of Cassis is a charming sight to behold. Use the dreamy village as a base for exploring the incredible stretch of adjacent coast, famous for its breathtaking calanques, which are inlets and coves surrounded by vertical limestone cliffs.
The territory around Cassis has been inhabited since prehistoric times. Evidence of these early inhabitants survives in the Cosquer Cave, where cave paintings are believed to date back as far as 27000 B.C. The cave is located just 14.7 miles (23.7 kilometers) from Cassis; however, it is mostly submerged and remains off-limits to the public.
Take a leisurely 30-minute hike to Calanque Port-Miou, the most easterly of the calanques, and the closest to the town of Cassis. Or, embark on a challenging 4-hour round-trip hike to the more remote and very beautiful Calanque d’En Vau. For a less strenuous choice, take a boat trip instead, with vessels leaving from Cassis harbor.
Visitors hunting for the best scenery should rent a car and cruise on the magnificent Route des Crêtes. The route extends east from Cassis. Plunging cliffs and sublime sea views make it one of the world’s most scenic coastal drives.
For beach relaxation, try the Plage de la Grande Mer, located at the end of the town harbor, or take a short walk west of town to the pretty, pebbled Blue-Flag stretch of Plage du Bestouan.
Back in the village, head to one of the local restaurants and bars to taste the region’s prestigious white wines and sample bouillabaisse, a traditional French fish stew. On Wednesday and Friday morning, local delicacies can be picked up at the Cassis market on Place Baragnon.
Cassis is about a 30-minute drive from Marseille. During July and August, hiking trails to the calanques are occasionally closed due to risk of forest fires.
The best time to visit Cassis is during early or late summer, when pleasant weather and few crowds ensure you can enjoy its gorgeous coast.