Cassis and the Calanques

The Calanques in between Cassis and Marseille take my breath away every time I’m in the area. These limestone fjords with their crystal clear, turquoise water and surrounded by Mediterranean pines are simply spectacular.  You can access some of the rocky inlets from the road, but there are numerous boat trips you can take to appreciate them from the sea – and it would be better to start in Cassis rather than Bandol or Sanary so that you’re not spending extra time actually getting to the calanques. themselves.

Anyone visiting this western coastal area of Provence should definitely not miss a visit to Cassis – a quaint little port with upmarket boutiques and a great selection of restaurants. The route down the hill to the village is pretty hair-raising – lots of hairpin bends and I always seem to have a local driver right on my bumper as I take my time and try not to be distracted by the glorious views! It’s worth spending a night or two here, but if you’re just visiting for the day in summer, my suggestion would be to avoid the weekend as Cassis is very popular with day trippers from Marseille. Parking is a bit of a nightmare – the most central car park has very limited parking given the popularity of the place. I tend to park on one of the roads leading out of the village, even though it’s a very steep climb back.

There are no specific places of interest to visit here – the church and the town hall are quite attractive and there are interesting old buildings, an attractive market square and of course the port and a small beach. But the draw of Cassis is to wander around the streets and alleyways exploring the shops and then to sit down at one of the many restaurants and cafés facing the port. One of my favourite restaurants in the port is called Le Grand Bleu, where I can wholeheartedly recommend their moules gratinées – they’re exceptional. Wash them down with a glass of delicious local Cassis white wine. Twelve wine estates produce 1,000,000 bottles per year from the 200 hectares of vineyards that tumble down the terraced slopes of the hills. All three colours are offered but the majority of the production is white wines.

For more in depth information, click here to read a great article on the area from Conde Nast Traveller magazine.

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