Colorful fisherman houses, calanques, cliffs and wines. All of that surrounded by boats, irreplaceable views of the surrounding sea and the romantic atmosphere of France. That’s Cassis – a port town gem of the French Riviera – and if you happen to be a lover of beautiful travel destinations, you certainly shouldn’t miss it. Situated in the region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, Cassis makes a great spot for a day trip from Marseille. It can also be a perfect place for a tour if you’re travelling to Marseille on a cruise – like I did – and want to experience something diverse. In any case, Cassis is ready to welcome you with its cheerfulness and so am I, dear reader, hopeful for you to discover the pleasantness of a fairytale town within a fairytale country.
Short announcement for cruisers:
I have visited Cassis during my cruise on Msc Virtuosa that included Marseille as one of the cruise ports. Due to the COVID restrictions I needed to book one of the Msc Excursions and I chose the one to Cassis (MRSAI). In case you’re wondering whether it’s worth taking it, I was very pleased with my choice mostly because the views are unforgettable.
Visiting Cassis as a day trip from Marseille: Distance
The distance between Marseille and Cassis equals approximately 33 km, which makes it very close and requires less than 1 hour to get there and explore its wonders. The road by car is pleasant and simple, showcasing views from up the cliffs on the way. Since there are no many parking spots any near to the centre of Cassis, it’s great to leave your car at one of the parking spots scattered around town (I personally recommend Parking des Gorguettes, where you can always find enough space for your car), and get one of the methods of transportation to get you to the town centre.
Le Petit Train Touristique de Cassis
One of those methods of transportation that I’ve just mentioned could be the charming touristic train of Cassis. It’s possible to have it come pick you up at the Parking des Gorguettes, where you can find the cash register for the tickets, however it’s always good to make sure of its availability beforehand HERE.
You can also book a 40 mins tour fully spent on the touristic train, if you’d rather see the town this way instead of having a stroll around it, yet unless you don’t have a movement impairment I would strongly consider walking around Cassis to experience it at its best.
If the touristic train doesn’t entice you or is not available, you can get a taxi to get you to the town centre.
Cassis – Port Town
Once you get to the centre of Cassis, the port town, you’ll be thrown into a pleasant cacophony of scents coming from the surrounding restaurants and contrasting with the fresh breeze of the sea, but also a perfectly subtle mix of pastel colors ornamenting the microscopic architecture that characterizes the place.
Here is also where you can find a lot of private boat tours ready to take you around the Calanques and see them from the sea with their offer. I wished I had more time to take advantage of that when I went, so if you have a longer time availability I would strongly suggest that as exploring by boat is always an unforgettable experience.
Château de Cassis
The gorgeous views from the port wouldn’t be as astounding if it weren’t for the historic fortress of The Château de Cassis. Its rich history started in the V century during Roman times when one f the towers were erected to watch over the ancient city, now laying on the lands of the modern day Cassis, called Carsicis Portus. As time flew by, more walls and towers continued rising to give shape to what became the wonderful Castle of Cassis in the following centuries.
Unfortunately the stories regarding the castle aren’t always described by cheerful moments only, just like most of historic monuments, and both 1524 and 1813 years mark attacks on the castle that take its toll on its appearance. That doesn’t end the years of excellence of the castle though, as in 1896 the château has been purchased and renewed in other to restore its beauty the way it was shaped by history, and since then, the Château de Cassis has become a private property, serving as a luxury hotel that transports you into the heaven of the contrasting historic designs with modern influences. The hotel is high on my bucket list when I would have the possibility to come back to Cassis, and you can book it HERE.
Other than that, we are left to admire it from the distance.
Plage de la Grande Mer
As you take a stroll around the main promenade of Cassis, you will reach a picturesque beach overlooking the wonderful cliffs and calanques. It is a free beach, which means you can just grab your own towel and extend yourself over the natural wonder of the coast, have some chill time, sunbathe and nurture your body and mind while swimming in the salty waters of the sea. Add that to the views above you and a perfectly splendor of the Sun, and the smile won’t want to leave your face any soon.
Pointe des Lombards
The beach is overviewed by the Pointe des Lombards, a viewpoint on an erosion that hovers over the town of Cassis. I’m always amazed by the gorgeousness of the art that Earth creates for us over the years of its existence and I must admit that Pointe des Lombards is one of these spots where I could just stare at it for hours and analyze its beauty, for how incredible and unrealistically pretty it is.
If you have more time and don’t mind a little hike, it’s possible to climb up there and enjoy the views from above via the vue panoramique du cap cable au port de Cassis.
Statue de Calendal
Upon passing by the Office de Tourisme de Cassis, you will discover an unique sculpture in front of the extensive, unlimited sea. However, as detailed as it is, the statue by Bouvier is actually a reproduction of the original piece by Auguste Cornu created in 1931, unluckily destroyed by the occupation troops in 1944. The statue represents a young fisherman, Calendal, originating from Cassis in the works of a famous poet and writer, Frédéric Mistral. In his work, Calendal falls madly in love with a fairy called Estérel. Whenever he would return from the sea, he would have a look towards the hills, just like the statue – that has its back turned against the sea. What’s also interesting to know is that the statue is made from Cassis stone, a special kind of Urnonian limestone that can be found in these terrains. The current statue has been created in 1999 and inagurated in the year 2000, recently celebrating its 20th birthday.
Yacht Club Cassis
Last but not least, unlike other Yacht Clubs I know, for example in Portofino, the Yacht Club in Cassis is actually not only a docking place for boats and its elite, but also a luxury restaurant, bar and event lounge open to the public. The place is often fueled by wonderful shows and the irreplaceable view certainly resonates with the prices.
Cassis can be a perfect destination for those who love slow travelling, slow life; going to places where the time seems to stop for a minute, where everything seems to be relaxed, a celebration of happiness, beauty and life. A short visit inspires your spirit and uplifts you, that’s for sure, but I am extremely convinced that a longer stay, of at least a full day or even 2 days, would be a better fit to take advantage of the atmosphere, explore the wonders of nature from the commodity of the boat, sip the white and rose wine with Cassis provenience would allow you to take a better taste of the admirable town.
Just like the famous poet we already mentioned, Frédéric Mistral, said: “He who has seen Paris but has not seen Cassis, has seen nothing” (“Qui a vu Paris et pas Cassis, n’a rien vu”). And as I definitely agree with all my heart, I’m sure you would to, after you’ve got a glimpse of what Cassis atmosphere offers you in real life.
Culinary fact: Crème de cassis , a specialty of Burgundy, is often confused as originating in Cassis, but it isn’t – it takes its name from blackcurrants (cassis, in French), not the town.
Thank you my dear reader for staying with me until the end of the post. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed exploring Cassis and then writing about it! If you want to keep in touch and never loose sight of the new content I create, follow me on Instagram @milenacorleoneofficial, Twitter @lenacorleone, Pinterest @lenacorleone, Facebook @ShipMeThere or sign up to the Newsletter HERE. It’s always lovely to connect with all of you. If you appreciate my content and would want to donate the amount of one coffee, you can Buy Me A Coffee. Have a wonderful day and I hope to see you on our journeys!
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Visiting Cassis | Day trip from Marseille
Visiting Cassis | Day trip from Marseille