Bouches-du-Rhône (13260) Population: 7,967 Altitude: 1 m
Cassis is a picturesque little Mediterranean port village on the rocky coast about 20 km east of Marseille. Cassis has great beaches, frequent markets, a famous white wine, and boat trips along the Calanques cliff-side coves. Market day Wed, Fri.
A walk through the old village streets will reveal some nice old buildings, some dating back to the 16th century, and some many with the colorful pastels of Provence. Other sites in the village are old fountains, and the large open-air market held every Wed and Sat all year a couple of blocks from the port.
The village was rebuilt on the old ruins in the 18th century, resulting in a more regular layout than most other medieval villages.
There's not much Medieval village to visit; Cassis is about the pretty seaport, the beaches and the sea front atmosphere.
Cassis is still a small fishing port, but the little fishing boats now share the harbor with yachts and a collection of tourist boats for visiting the calanques.
Along with the standard small fishing boats in Cassis, you'll see several of the double-ended pointus with their high bow posts, a Provencal boat that's been fishing these waters fro the past 2000 years.
A fine old chateau-fort, the 1381 Chateaux de la Maison des Baux, dominates the harbor, but it's privately owned and closed to the public, except to residents of the upscale hotel. A walk up to the hill top beside the chateau offers a reasonable view down to the village and harbor. The local map (from the Office de Tourisme) shows a "loop" route down to the shore. It's a pretty walk, but the shore-line path back to the village is now closed off, so it's back up over the hill past the chateau.
Cassis has a fine sandy beach by the town center, the Plage de la Grande Mer. Grande Mer is 200 m long, with a mixture of sand and gravel, and has lifeguards in the summer.
Plage du Corton is 700 meters southeast of town. It's a beach of galets, in a lovely, protected setting of a "cirque" bay. There's a handy parking lot just beside the beach, or a coastal walking route from the Grande Mer beach, about 15 minutes.
Plage de l'Arène is in the next cove east past Corton beach, about 1 km southeast of the village. It's a long, narrow beach of galets and stone, beautiful but isolated.
Plage du Bestouan is southwest of the village, 600 m out Ave de l'Amiral Ganteaume (a 10-minute walk from the port). It's a beach of galets, over 100 m long (the second largest beach of Cassis), but fairly narrow. In the summer there are lifeguards, and it's very crowded.
Plage Bleue is 2 km southwest of the port, out near the end of the Cap Cable peninsula. Plage Bleue is a "beach" of huge, flat rocks slightly inclined towards the sea, and great for sunbathing.
Boat tours of the Calanques depart from the east side of Cassis port, at Quai Saint-Pierre. Prices and times of the different tours are clearly marked on large signs. Find the tour you want, check if good seats are still available for the "next" trip, otherwise get tickets for a later departure. You book your ticket from a central kiosk at the quay near the boats.
• 3 Calanques; 0h45 (about 10 €):
Port Miou, Port Pin, En Vau
• 5 Calanques; 1h (about 12 €): Port Miou, Port Pin, En Vau, L'Oule, Devenson
• 8 Calanques; 1h30 (about 15 €): Port Miou, Port Pin, En Vau L'Oule, Devenson, Oeil de Verre, Sugiton, Morgiou
Cassis Road Train
The Cassis "Road Train" is a typical tourist train for visiting a town, except that here it takes you on visits of interesting sites outside the town. The starting point is at the end of Quiai Saint-Pierre, just past the Calanques tour boats, towards the tourist office. The tour takes 45 minutes. You visit the heights east of town and north of town, with views of the Bay of Cassis, the chateau and vineyards. It then goes west out the Port-Miou peninsula, and an included 10-minute stop for taking pictures of the views.
• Open: every day of the year, 7 days a week
• Six departures, 11h15 to 17h15, and an 18h15 time during the high season.
• Cost: 8 €, kids 6&mash;11 3 € (2017-2018), tickets sold on board.