Is Cassis the best village in France?

Posted on 15. Apr, 2013 by in Destinations, Europe Travel, France

If I were to ask the following question “What makes a village irresistible?”, what would be your answer? Chances are, it would include good food, friendly locals, a beautiful setting and a little je ne sais quoi about the atmosphere

What more could you want?

And as it turns out, when I decided to visit Cassis and Provence on a whim, I had no idea what to expect. Little did I know that it would pretty much instantly become the village I would compare all other villages to. In my book, it just doesn’t get better than Cassis, and if you’ve been there, you know exactly what I mean.

About Cassis

The town of Cassis may only be located a few kilometers east of Marseille, but it couldn’t be more different. While the latter is gritty, dirty, insanely busy and not welcoming at all, Cassis, on the other hand, is charming, quaint, and gorgeous. Like much of sea-side Provence, the village’s history goes back to Roman times, back when it was part of the maritime route made by the Emperor Antoninus Pius, and where the main livelihood was fishing and trade with North Africa.

Interesting fact: rumor has it that the base of the Statue of Liberty originated in Cassis. Which would totally make sense because the village was, at the time, an important cement and limestone exploitation site.

Additionally, Paris-haters will definitely be pleased in Cassis, not just because of the fact that it looks nothing like the French capital, but because the village’s motto basically says that “Whoever has seen Paris and not Cassis really hasn’t seen anything“.

I can’t help but feel this is very wise, and undoubtedly true.

Photos of Cassis

Obviously, a village that claims to be one of the best in France needs to be highly photogenic. It needs to have you snap away every corner, every angle, every charming detail. And trust me when I say that I had no trouble filling up my memory card.

Things to do in Cassis

  • Go on a cruise in the Calanques: This alone is probably the reason why Cassis almost entirely relies on tourism nowadays. The Calanques are a wild, rugged cliffs and creeks stretching from Marseille to Cassis, and best enjoyed from a small boat on the sea. Cruise prices vary on how much of the Calanques you want to see,  and I really suggest you fork out your money for this. The Calanques are one of France’s most beautiful natural areas, and just doesn’t disappoint. Tickets can be bought at one of the many booths on Quai Saint-Pierre.

  • Wander through the sun-soaked, ancient streets of the city center: As in most of Provence’s cities and villages, few things are more enjoyable than taking an unplanned and plan-free late afternoon stroll through the winding streets of the center. Take notice of the many details, from quirky doorways, to beautiful shop facades and colorful flowers. A quintessential southern France experience.

  • Taste one of the city’s many wines: Wine in Cassis isn’t just any wine - it was one of the first three places to receive the appellation d’origine contrôlée (label of controlled origin), which was introduced in 1936. Wine making became the city’s second most important industry after tourism. My favorite? The delicious, fruity rosé from Domaine de la Ferme Blanche. You can even go on an extensive tour of the village’s wineries through the Provence Wine Route. Three of my favorite words.

  • Enjoy the sunset from one of the most beautiful vantage points of the Mediterranean coast: Thanks to its spectacular location, nestled between two immense cliffs overlooking the sea, Cassis boasts some of the best sunsets I’ve ever seen. Proof below, taken from the delicious and oh-so-well-located Le Grand Large restaurant and lounge. You’re welcome.

Have you been to Cassis? What was your favorite thing about the village - its atmosphere, the activities, its beauty?

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13 Responses to “Is Cassis the best village in France?”

  1. Katherina

    15. Apr, 2013

    I visited Cassis about 6 years ago and absolutely loved it. I ate great fresh fish, watching the sunset from one of those restaurants next to the port.

    It’s such a quiet and charming place… Unfortunately, we only stayed for an afternoon stroll and dinner - I would have loved to see more of it!

    Reply to this comment
    • Marie-Eve Vallieres

      18. Apr, 2013

      I think we had the same experience, haha! I really loved it, and I also wished I stayed longer.

      Reply to this comment
  2. I’ve never been but Provence and the small seaside villages are places I long to visit! Loved all the colors in your pictures and could see myself enjoying some of that wine while gazing at the amazing sunset :)

    Reply to this comment
    • Marie-Eve Vallieres

      18. Apr, 2013

      You should definitely go to Provence. It’s one of my favourite places on the planet :)

      Reply to this comment
  3. Andrea

    17. Apr, 2013

    I love the light in all these photos! Always fun to see towns you’ve heard of from their products, like Creme de Cassis

    Reply to this comment
    • Marie-Eve Vallieres

      18. Apr, 2013

      Thanks Andrea! It was a gorgeous afternoon, I was very lucky!

      Reply to this comment
  4. Peter Dudley

    18. Apr, 2013

    We were there in 2002. We were staying in Aix, but decided to take a day trip to Cassis. We walked out to the calanques and were blown away by how beautiful the whole area is. It’s on our bucket list to go back and stay there for awhile.

    Reply to this comment
  5. Michelle

    21. Apr, 2013

    Your photos really show how beautiful Cassis is.
    I visited a couple of years ago, on New Year’s Day and had lunch outside in the sunshine.
    It was bizarre to see the town’s huge Christmas tree in situ between two equally huge palm trees.

    P.s. Give Marseille another try. It’s one of my favourite cities!

    Reply to this comment
  6. Miranda

    13. May, 2013

    I haven’t been there yet, but it looks beautiful!

    Reply to this comment
    • Marie-Eve Vallieres

      28. May, 2013

      Quite the little slice of heaven on Earth if you ask me!

      Reply to this comment
  7. Marcello de mesa

    16. Apr, 2014

    Been to Paris and London 6 years ago but would like to visit seaside villages in Provence this year. Can you recommend the exact location to stay so I can access the soutn of france particularly Aix d provence, Casis, nice, cannes. Any particular location/ hotel/gites to stay to save on my dollars. Looking at twoweeks stay with my wife

    Reply to this comment
    • Marie-Eve Vallieres

      18. Apr, 2014

      Cassis is a great base to stay if you want to explore Provence, although Aix is a bit more urban. I stayed in one of the Ibis Budget hotels nearby and it was perfectly fine. I do not know of B&Bs in the area.

      Reply to this comment

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