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Bouches du Rhône

43°13'0"N 5°32'20"E
Published: January 2010
last updated: May 2011
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++++The visit

Cassis is one of the jewels of French Mediterranean coast. The town is Cassis wedged in the small bay between Massive of Calanques on the west and Cap Canaille – the highest cliff of France – on the east. The town is built about old fishing port of Cassis, now turned into port of pleasance. Around you will find old quarters, so loved by tourists, a charming town-hall of XVII century (historical monument of France) and several remarkable buildings of XVII-XVIII centuries. Long time under the authority of Archbishop of Marseille, Cassis was famous for its religious architecture. Only four chapels (all closed to public except on the days of cultural heritage), parochial church (Eglise Saint Michel) of XIX century and eleven oratoricals have been preserved until our days.

The impressive Castle of Cassis was erected in XIII-XIV century and was protecting the cassidians during the turbulent medieval period. Nowadays the castle is a private property, so we suggest you to enjoy its view from the port of Cassis.

Your visit to Cassis will not be complete if you don’t try world-famous local wine. Calanques de Cassis Especially valued is white wine of the appellation AOC Vin de Cassis: it is produced by twelve cellars, some founded in XIX century. The main grapes for white wine are Ugni Blanc, Clairette and Marsanne. This white is one of the oldest and without any doubt most famous of the wines of Provence.

Another attraction of Cassis is the calanques. Calanques of Port Miou and Port Pins are just a short walk away from downtown in the direction west (just follow street signs).

We highly recommend you to take the car and follow local route des Crêtes between Cassis and La Ciotat. Drive up to Cap Canaille and enjoy the view from the highest cliff of France.


The territory of Cassis was certainly inhabited in paleolothic period. Considering geographic proximity of Cassis and the oldest city of France Massalia (now Marseille), their histories are interconnected. In the antiquity Carsius Portus was the part of “maritime itinerary of the Emperor Antonin” from Arles to Rome. Barbaric wars of V-X centuries drive the population under protection of fortified castrum erected on the hill over the bay of Cassis. In 1223 the castrum becomes the property of Princes of Baux; in XV century the death of princess Alexis puts an end to independence of Baux and Cassis becomes the part of Provence. King René grants authority over Cassis to the archbishop of Marseille, who will keep this privilege until the French Revolution. In XVIII century the town grows outside of its ramparts; exploitation of limestone quarries, fishing and wine production brings prosperity to cassidians.

The history of wine of Cassis deserves to be told separately. The grape was known to the population of Southern France before the coming of Greeks and Romans, however it was the Greeks of Phocaea, the founders of Marseille, who brought the noble grape to the territory of Provence and the savoir-faire of viticulture. In XV century King René first brought to Provence Muscatel – the glory of the wines of Cassis. In late XIX century phylloxera – a tiny insect – has completely destroyed the vine of Cassis. Only in the very end of XIX century, thanks to the efforts of Joseph Savon, the wine-production of Cassis was restored. In 1936 wine of Cassis was the first in France to receive the mark AOC (Appelation d’Origine Contrôlée). Currently between 600 000 and 700 000 bottles are produced every year.

++++Practical information

To reach Cassis by car take autoroute A50 from Marseille in destination Aubagne, then take exit 8 (Cassis) and follow route D559 to your destination.
You can also follow route D559 from the east of Marseille all the way to Cassis. This route, famous for its exceptional beauty, can be seen in many french cinema classics. every autumn route Marseille Cassis hosts famous half-marathon.

By public transportation:
there are regular bus-lines to Cassis from Marseille and Aix-en-Provence.

The closest TGV train stations are Marseille (where you can make a connection and arrive by regional train to the railway station of Cassis) and Aix-en-Provence.
The closest airport is Marseille-Provence, which unfortunately does not have direct shuttle with Cassis (however you can arrive to the airport by changing train in Marseille).

We recommend choosing low season for your visit to Cassis to avoid the crowds of tourists and overfilled parkings.
Although the town has many paid parkings, in the summer season and on weekends they fill up very early. To have a parking place, come to Cassis in morning hours.
In the summer don’t forget your swimming-suit and enjoy the municipal beach or one of the small beaches of calanques.
Weekly farmers’ market: Tuesday and Friday 8:00 to 13:00.

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