What are the best things to do in Cassis?
There are lots of things to do in Cassis, whether you are visiting for a day trip or you have more time to explore. Cassis is a pretty fishing village in the Provence region of France, about an hour’s drive from Marseille or Aix-en-Provence. I visited Cassis in 2022.
In this guide, I will tell you about my favourite things to do in Cassis, plus make recommendations for food, drink and tours too.
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1. Visit the Calanques
One of the best things to do in Cassis is to visit the Calanques National Park. This is a geological feature with beautiful cliffs rising out of the Mediterranean sea, vegetation, caves and beaches. The Calanques make for a very scenic boat trip, and are popular with kayakers and cliff jumpers too.
There are several different types of boat trips from Cassis to the Calanques, from a 45 minute duration to 4 hours. The 45-minute trip costs around 17 euros per person and is well worth the price. You can buy tickets from the little ticket office just opposite the boats on the far side of the harbour.
The Calanques offer beautiful hikes for all levels, whether you’re looking for a leisurely stroll or a challenging hike. The Calanque d’En-Vau Loop is a popular trail that takes you along the coast, offering stunning views of the sea and the cliffs.
You can also join a tour which visits three calanques on an electric-powered mountain bike.
For a more challenging hike, head to Cap Canaille, which is the highest sea cliff in Europe. There are also several caves and coves to explore along the way. Be sure to bring a decent pair of hiking socks, like these ones.
2. Eat and Drink at the Waterfront
When considering things to do in Cassis, you can’t help but notice all the little restaurants and cafes at the waterfront. There are both eating-in and takeout style places, and you can also get Italian gelato here too.
There are lots of Italian gastronomic influences here, from Naples-style pizza to authentic gelato (there is even a ‘Cassis’ flavour). I recommend the pizza truck just by the boat ticket office if you don’t have much time before your boat sails. You can eat your pizza on a bench by the boats and admire the beautiful scenery.
3. Drink Cassis Wine
No list of things to do in Cassis would be complete without a wine entry. Cassis is famous for its white wine, in contrast to the rose wines which are usually found in the Provence region. Cassis wine is protected by its own appellation (AOC) and has overtones of citrus blossom and honey. All of the restaurants serve Cassis wine and there are also shops where you can buy a bottle to take back with you.
There is a wine festival in Cassis every May, where the 12 Cassis wine producers invite you to sample their wares.
Cassis wine rarely leaves the region, but there are a couple of places where you can buy it online if you don’t get a chance to try some on your trip. Yapp Brothers in the UK and Hourlier Wines in Australia.
These are wines I purchased from the two retailers linked above.
Note: the popular blackcurrant liqueur ‘Creme de Cassis’ is not related to the place Cassis.
4. Visit Cassis Beaches
One of the most popular things to do in Cassis involves relaxing on its beaches. There are pebble beaches and stone beaches, with lifeguards in the summer. Some beaches have facilities such as pedalos, sun loungers and toilets. You can’t beat the Calanque beaches to truly feel at one with nature.
Things to do in Cassis: Beaches
Plage de Bestouan is one of the most popular beaches in Cassis. It is located just a short walk from the town centre and offers stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea. The beach is well-equipped with sun loungers, parasols and a lifeguard service.
If you are looking for a more secluded beach experience, head to Plage de Port Miou. This beach is only accessible by boat or by hiking down a steep path. Once you arrive, you will be rewarded with crystal-clear water and dramatic cliffs.
For a beach that is truly off the beaten track, head to Cap Canaille. This beach can only be reached by climbing down a treacherous cliff face. However, the stunning views and pristine waters are well worth the effort.
5. Browse the Shops and Markets
In Cassis there are lots of independently owned boutique outlets selling handmade goods and unusual gifts. One of the best places to start your shopping spree is at Place Baragnon. This central square is home to a number of great stores, including a traditional French bakery and a chic clothing boutique.
For souvenirs, head to one of the many souvenir shops dotted around the town. Here you’ll find a range of Cassis-themed items, from keyrings and magnets to T-shirts and postcards.
If you’re looking for something a bit more unique, pay a visit to one of Cassis’ independent shops. These family-run businesses sell everything from handmade pottery to local honey.
One of the most popular things to do in Cassis in terms of shopping is to visit the regular markets. On Wednesdays and Fridays there are excellent regional food markets where you can buy all of your Provençal gastronomic goodies. The main food markets are set up around the fountain at Place de la République, and the fish market happens early on a Wednesday morning at the harbour.
6. Visit Cap Canaille: Things to do in Cassis
The stunning peak towering high above the village is called Cap Canaille and is the highest sea cliff in Europe. If you have a head for heights, you can drive or cycle the extremely scenic road up to the top. It’s a beautiful road but beware – it’s narrow!
7. Check out the Local History
If you are looking for historical things to do in Cassis, you will be pleased to find the village is steeped in history. There are lots of local tours where you can learn more about the medieval roots of this traditional fishing village. One place of interest is the 17th century town hall, with preserved sections of the medieval floors and walls on display for visitors to view.
There are also 18th century fountains in the centre of the village, and the Mediterranean Museum of Art and Popular Traditions too.
Getting to Cassis
It is probably best to drive to Cassis, as there is not a train station near to the village centre. You can take the A50 toll motorway from either the East or West, or to avoid the tolls you can take the Col de la Gineste from Marseille. It is a beautiful scenic drive.
There is parking in Cassis centre but it gets very busy. Instead you can park at Les Gorguettes (which is free) and catch the little gold shuttle ‘train’ (it drives on wheels on the road) down to Cassis village centre. The shuttle costs 1 – 2 euros and is a novel way to travel, plus they give you a little map which shows different things to do in Cassis and general tourist information.
Of course there are private transfers, taxis and airport services too.
Personal Opinion – is Cassis Worth it?
100% yes! Cassis is one of my favourite places to visit in Provence, it is pretty, quaint and charming with lots to do, whilst being smaller and less popular than its other Provencal neighbours. The beaches in Cassis are some of the most beautiful in the country and attract travellers from all over the world
However, be aware that Cassis is best experienced during the shoulder season as it can still get busy (and very hot) during the summer. I recommend a foldable sun parasol and sun hat to protect your head from the sun.
Lastly check the French school holiday calendar to avoid the crowds on your trip.
What else is there to do near Cassis?
In addition to all the things to do in Cassis, there is also Marseille City close by, and the UNESCO city of Arles. You might also be interested in Aix en Provence, the medieval village of Les Baux de Provence.
Also along the coast is the village of Saint Rémy de Provence, along with the rest of the coast of Provence. There is also the heart of Provence which is famous for its lavender, olive oil, wines and many Vincent Van Gogh paintings.
That brings me to the end of my guide to the best things to do in Cassis! I hope this has helped you plan your trip to Cassis. Perhaps it has given you some inspiration for a South of France/Provence itinerary.
Have you visited Cassis? I would love to hear about your experiences in the comments below.
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