Photo Essay: Cassis, a hidden gem on French Riviera

Cassis is a fishing town just 25 kms away from Marseilles. Tucked at the foot of dramatic white cliffs, surrounded by blue waters, Cassis is undeniably the most charming town in Southern France.  French Riviera is not all about Nice and Cannes and rich and famous. There are places like Cassis, that, at one look, will take your breath away.   If you want a beach less crowded, silent and serene atmosphere which is away from hustle and bustle of a city like Nice or Marseilles, Cassis is a perfect laid back place.  

Surprisingly for a small town, Cassis has a lot to offer it’s tourists. It is protected by 2 natural monuments – Cape Canaille, the highest maritime cliff of Europe) and Calanques, a series of looming limestone fjords or cove that adores the coast between Marseilles and Cassis, for 20 kms length. 

Hiking: 
A paradise for hikers, people come to this tiny town to explore the Calanques by foot.  The hiking trial starts in the town itself. If you intend to hike here, make sure you wear really good shoes, because the paths are uneven and despite having good shoes, you may have to often used hands for support to climb up/down.  Sure,it will be a rewarding experience.

Rock Climbing: 

One of the largest rock climbing areas in France, this place attracts climbers from all through Europe (predominantly)  and rest of the world.  In total, there are about 2500 bolted sports routes and 1000 trad routes. However the cliffs exist in a fragile ecosystem and climbing is strictly controlled. The cliffs are closed during summer months (Jun-Sep) owing to the threat of forest fires. 

Boat Cruises:
Alternatively, the best way to see calanques is through a boat ride. There are different types of trips varying with the distance, no.of calanques covered in the boat trip and price, maximum being 9 calanques in 1.5 hours costing about 25 euros. 

Diving / Swimming: 
Cassis is a seaside gem.  When there’s clear blue sea, there’s nothing that could possibly stop a passionate scuba diver or swimmer.  And if the sea is coiled up with white cliffs and set in a breathtaking natural setting, who wouldn’t want to take a plunge? 

Winetasting: 
Wine-making in Cassis dates back to 600BC. The wines were of great taste which sure wine connoisseurs would appreciate. There are about 12 vineyards around Cassis’ open for visitors, although it’s advised to pre-book the visit during peak tourist months. 

Just Relax: 
It’s a great place to do “my favourite activity” – just sit and relax, enjoy the views, sip a beer or lick an ice-cream and be part of slow paced lifestyle.  The streets are quite, houses are colorful, beaches less crowded, lined up with plethora of cafes and restaurants and an enviable Med Climate makes Cassis a great holiday destination all through the year.

Walking: 
Walking upto the lighthouse or through the narrow streets is sure enjoyable.  You could look through the souvenir and boutique shops and cafes while walking along the town centre.  Or take a walk up the castle on top of the hill.  Cassis is beautiful in every dimension.  

Others activities: Mountain biking, sea regatta, fishing and kayaking.

Cassis harbour
The starting point of the harbour on an early spring day 
Cassis town
View of the busy harbour and houses taken from the boat cruise ticket centre
Lighthouse and Cassis
The lighthouse is just minutes away from the harbour. 

The Château de Cassis
A beautiful castle on clifftop overlooking Mediterranean, this is Château de Cassis. A roman fort dates back to 13th century, today this is luxurious hotel
Plage de la Grande Mer, the main beach in Cassis
Plage de la Grande Mer, one of the many beautiful beaches in Cassis. This one is quiet  close to the harbour
A fishing town - Cassis, along the Med Coast
View of Cassis town and mountains, as I took the Boat trip to enjoy the beauty of Calanques
One of the Calanques as seen from the boat
The weather was just perfect, the place was less crowded. Although we spent only a day in Cassis, we were totally glad that we din’t miss out this hidden gem. Pictures of the harbour, cafe, calanques and my failed attempts to hike the calanques (thanks to my flip-flops)  kept flashing in my mind as I boarded the last bus from Cassis.     
Practical Information:
1. Train from Marseilles St.Charles Station takes you to Cassis railway station which is about 2-3kms away from the town, and the shuttle buses are not so frequent
2.M8 bus from Castellene/Prado, Marseilles reaches Gendarmerie, Cassis in about 40 minutes, and this is 5 minutes away from Cassis port. This bus is not very frequent, but check the timetable and plan accordingly.  
3. There are boat trips from Marseilles to Cassis if you want a prolonged boat journey
4. Best time to visit Cassis is Spring or Autumn. 

42 Responses

  1. beautiful place…

    nice write up and well captured photos

    thanks anu

  2. A thoroughly enjoyable post on the little known gem hidden close to Marseilles, Anu:)

  3. Did you enhance the first picture to show the blue more prominently? The effect is very good. On the other hand, the blur on the fifth picture (beach) doesn't go very well. My favorite photos are third and sixth – Just AWESOME 🙂

    Destination Infinity

    • Yes DI. I worked on the clouds for 1,3,6th pictures, and blurred the 4th pic. I'm glad the 6th one has come out pretty well. Infused a bit of HDR in it. Thanks a lot for your feedback DI. Honestly, you are my best critic so far!!

  4. its too beautiful …………..

  5. Beautiful! Small towns along the rocky coast are usually interesting. How hard to get to Cape Canaille?

    • It's a medium level hike Kusum. there's a 15km driving road that takes us to a certain altitude. There's also a 12km hiking trail to go to the top of the cliff. In summer the access is regulated, so one need to check always before venturing there.

  6. Such lovely pictures!

  7. WOW! It's such a beautiful place. French Riviera is beautiful but when you go there with a tour they show you the famous attractions, not such hidden gems.

    Don't know why, can't see the second last shot.

  8. As usual, loved the pics 🙂 Seems like a very beautiful place.

  9. This is like a paradise. It has got something for every one. Nice 😉

  10. I have never been there but your stunning photos make me want to go their right now.

  11. Wow, amazing views of town! looking fantastic to visit. pictures are so much beautiful. really, great article written well.

  12. Fantastic captures Anuradha!

  13. what amazing shots!! I loved the clouds in pic no. 6.. lovely!!

  14. Rock climbing, wine tasting – wow, sounds divine!!! 🙂
    Bhusha's INDIA TRAVELOGUE

  15. Beautiful place. Lovely pictures, as always 🙂

  16. Wow, how many adventure activities to do at this town. really, everyone picture looking amazing to visit.

  17. just awesome! have to visit this place someday! great snaps too anu..

  18. Nice to know about Cassis and see pictures. Right, that's not a place we often hear about.
    I bet the views from the erstwhile Roman Fort is awesome. 🙂

  19. I am simply amazed by the pictures! It seems to be completely my kind of place!

  20. So pretty!!! Looks like the Caribbean almost!

  21. Great article and stunning photos! I absolutely love Cassis. It is often overlooked in favour of some of its’ more famous neighbours, but that is perhaps a good thing as it would otherwise be ridiculously crowded like places such as St Tropez and Cannes in the summer!
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