There are so many wonderful things to do in Cassis, France. It is a small town that many people simply head to as a day trip, but it has so much more to offer for a longer stay in the South of France.
After spending a quick 24 hours in Marseille, I headed to Cassis with my friends and we stayed in an Airbnb right on the port with incredible views of the Chateau and even better views of the sunsets each night.
I spent four days in this beautiful little town and I could have stayed for four more even if only to continue eating panisse and mussels every single day.
Where is Cassis France?
Cassis is a small town located on the Mediterranean Sea in the South of France.
It is in the region of Provence and is about 30 minutes east of Marseille along the coast. Marseille is the closest hub, however, it is not too far from Nice if you are coming from that way instead.
The port of Cassis, which is the center of it all, is tucked between the Calanques National Park and the headland of Cap Canaille. This means that the waters here are incredibly calm, perfect for swimming.
How to Get to Cassis
The easiest way to get to Cassis is to take the train.
If you are coming from Marseille, you can take the train from St. Charles straight to Cassis. The ticket costs about €6, depending on the time of day you come and whether or not you’ve booked the ticket in advance. It takes about 30 minutes.
If you are coming from Nice, you will have to change at Toulon. In total, it takes about two and a half hours to get from Nice to Cassis with the change and costs €32 (It can be as low as €18 if you book a few days in advance).
You can book all train tickets in this region using the SNCF Connect app. You can download it straight to your phone. You can use it to look up train times as well as purchase tickets which you can then show the conductors when they move through the trains.
Once you arrive to the Cassis train station you will have to take the local bus to the town center. It doesn’t run all that regularly, but you will see the timetable at the bus stop outside of the station building (in the parking lot).
The bus is free and takes about 25 minutes to bring you to Cassis. If you don’t have much luggage, it’s about a 45-minute walk to the Cassis port.
Where to Stay in Cassis France – Airbnb Cassis
There is a wide range of hotels and Airbnbs in Cassis of varying price points. While the town is certainly not a budget backpacker destination (no hostels), you can definitely enjoy the best of this place without breaking the bank.
There are Cassis Airbnbs like this one for €50 a night. That is an absolute bargain for the location right in the Cassis Port. It has a kitchen so that you can self-cater and buy delicious cheese and meat from the local market.
If you are backpacking around France and want to keep costs down, the best option would be to check on Airbnb in Cassis as there are very few budget hotel options around.
This cute two-bedroom condo is the Airbnb in Cassis that my friends and I stayed in. The views are truly magical and we had a full kitchen for cooking breakfast and enjoying lots of homemade charcuterie boards each night with produce from the market and bakery.
This gorgeous one-bedroom condo comes with a parking spot (gold dust in this town!) and also has some spectacular views. For a great Cassis Airbnb, the fact that it costs less than €100 per night is such a bargain.
Where to Stay in Cassis France – Hotels in Cassis
For hotels, there are a view great options around the Cassis Port that you won’t want to miss.
- Le Cassiden: This hotel is a downright bargain with double rooms that start at less than €70 per night. It’s a bit small, but it is very clean, the staff are friendly, and you are located right on the Cassis Port close to all the best things to do in Cassis. Book a room at Le Cassiden here.
- The Originals Boutique, Hôtel Cassitel: Another hotel that has double rooms start at under €100 per night, this cute boutique hotel is just off of the Cassis Port, which means it’s very quiet at night and also very close to all of the things to do in town. However, you still get views of part of the port from some of the balconies and you are right next to one of the town’s grocery stores (and wine shops!). The rooms are stylish and modern. It feels more expensive than it really is. Book a stay at The Originals Boutique here.
- Best Western: If you are traveling in the summertime and you want access to a pool with a view, the Best Western Plus Hôtel la Rade is a relatively affordable option. Rooms start at about €120 per night depending on the time of year you book. They have views over the Chateau and beautiful rooms. Book a stay at the Best Western Plus Hôtel la Rade here.
- Hôtel Les Roches Blanches: Do you want total luxury for your trip to Cassis? This hotel is about as luxurious as it gets. They have an onsite spa, a cliffside infinity pool with views over all of Cassis, and a rooftop restaurant for amazing food and sunsets. Rooms start at about €280 per night. Book a stay at Hôtel Les Roches Blanches here.
Wonderful Things to do in Cassis, France
This little port town in the south of France isn’t absolutely packed with activity. Many people simply head to Cassis on a day trip, but I think there are plenty of things to do in Cassis to keep you busy for at least a few days. Plus, it’s just so beautiful here you’ll want to linger just a little bit longer.
1. Take a Boat Trip
Taking a day trip around the Calanques National Park is one of the most popular things to do in Cassis. Even people who only head here for the day make this a priority.
It’s a very easy thing to do and you don’t really need to plan in advance except maybe to check the timetable since it changes with the season.
During my trip to Cassis, which was in February, they ran several trips per day of varying lengths. You can go to three calanques (which is really three bays), five calanques, or eight calanques.
The three-calanques tour takes an hour and costs €17. The five-calanques tour takes about an hour and 20 minutes and costs €21. The eight-calanques tour can take upwards of two hours and costs €24.
Here is a google location for the rough location of the wooden stand where you go to purchase your tickets. You can pay with cash or card.
Sometimes you won’t really have a choice as to which boat trip you can take because when it is windy, they only go out to three calanques and it can be windy quite a lot if you visit outside of the summer months.
I felt like the three-calanque tour was more than enough. An hour out on the water is wonderful, but they pack the boats quite full and if you get motion sickness like I do, you’ll likely be ready for dry land by the end.
2. Hike inside the Calanques National Park
Once you have explored the Calanques by water, you’ll want to get out there by foot (unless you don’t like hiking, then take another boat trip!).
The best time to hike the Calanques is between October and May. Often in the summertime, the park is not even open for hiking because the beaches are simply too busy and often have boats coming into them to dock for the day.
You can do quite a lot of hiking in the Calanques or you can just do one or two shorter walks that aren’t as strenuous but still offer some incredible views.
This is the starting point for the national park if you are based in Cassis and simply want to walk in from the downtown (there’s also a parking lot here if you are driving, but it fills up fast, so it’s best to just walk the 15 minutes from town).
From here you can follow the signs and the white and red markers that you’ll see on the trees along the path. It takes you past Port Miou, which is a very flat walk for about 10-15 minutes.
The path splits at one point with one path hugging the coastline and the other going up and over. The one to the left remains flatter but they both rejoin one another when you reach Port Pin.
Port Pin is where most people stop the walk. It takes about 30 minutes to get from the starting point to the beach at Port Pin (about 45-50 minutes walk from the Cassis Port).
This beach is incredible. It is truly one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen and the fact that you have to earn it by walking to it means it feels even better to take a dip in that cool water (at least, it was cool in February!).
If you are a fitter and more experienced hiker, you can carry on to Calanque d’En-Vau. From Port Pin to Calanque d’En-Vau you will have to hike along quite a rocky part of the trail. Many people actually hike this part with walking poles and hiking boots.
Simply keep following the red and white marked trail until you reach Calanque d’En-Vau. From here you can turn or you can hike down a steep path to the beach here. Just remember you have to come back up!
3. Eat Incredible Local Food
One of the best things to do in Cassis is to sit at one of the outdoor tables at a restaurant in the port. This is where you can experience the ultimate people watching and soak up the sun.
Most of the restaurants are serving up similar dishes including local Provence and South-of-France classics like moules frites (mussels and fries), bouillabaisse (a rich fish stew), and steak tartare with panisse (fries made of chickpea flour – SO GOOD).
It’s worth noting that many of these restaurants close between lunch and dinner and if visiting in the winter, some simply do not reopen for dinner. We tended to eat lunch out at one of the nearby restaurants and then bought groceries from the local market to have dinner at our Airbnb.
Some of my personal favorites include:
- Monsieur Brun – This was my favorite spot in Cassis and where we ended up eating twice on our short trip to the town. It has pride of place almost right in the center of the port area and the food and service were great. I highly recommend the sardines and their bouillabaisse is a great choice at lunch when it is slightly less expensive and a smaller portion.
- Poissonnerie Laurent – This restaurant does a great lunch special for their bouillabaise and it is one of the best in the area as well. They also have a nice selection of seafood dishes, but not as many tables outside on the promenade.
- Chez Gilbert – This is the most famous place in town to have the bouillabaise. It’s a whopping €50 per person, but if you really want to have the best in town, this is where you’ll find it (so they say, I couldn’t part with that sort of money for some seafood soup).
- Bar Le France – If you want to have a drink before dinner or a place to sit in the sunshine with some snacks and a crisp bottle of local wine, this is the place to do it. This place is busy when the sun is out, but for good reason. It has a fantastic drinks menu and plenty of affordable (for Cassis) food options.
While not a restaurant, I highly recommend getting yourself some cake from La Tarte Tropézienne. They make one of the lightest, fluffiest, most delicious cakes with slightly sweet cream filling (also the one with raspberries is incredible). It is the namesake of the patisserie and well worth buying alongside some of their other desserts.
This is also where you used to buy our baguettes every day and they are delicious. On my last morning in Cassis before heading to the train station, I stopped in here for a pain au chocolat and it was still warm.
4. Visit the Market
On Wednesdays and Fridays, the market comes to town in Cassis and shopping here for a picnic is one of the best things to do in Cassis if you love delicious food.
If you’ve been to French markets before, especially in other parts of Provence, this is very similar. There are locals selling different types of cheese and raw meats. There are fisherman scaling fish that was caught that morning. There are sausages and cured meats and freshly baked bread that you won’t find at the local bakeries.
There are also clothes, soaps (lavender soap is particularly popular in this region of France), and fruits and vegetables.
The market takes place around this part of town and spreads in every direction from there.
5. Sample Wine from Local Vineyards
Wine in Cassis is some of the most celebrated in this region of France and in a country that loves wine as much as France, that says a lot. The vineyards of Provence are some of the oldest in the country. The Greeks started cultivating wine here in 600 BC.
However, while the rest of the region is lauded for its rose, it’s more about the white wine in Cassis (although they do of course have rose).
You can visit individual wineries here to sample some of their wine and purchase bottles. It’s best to call ahead of time and if you aren’t familiar with the vineyards or don’t speak much French, start at the tourism office and they can help organize the tastings for you.
Every year around mid-May the town has a wine festival called Cassis fête son vin, which features winemakers from all over the region and is a fun day of sampling wines in the south of France sunshine.
6. Soak up the Sun at the Cassis Beaches
There are a few different beaches around Cassis that are well worth enjoying at almost all times of year. When I visited in February, there was one day in particular that was very warm and almost everyone was sunbathing at the beach and cooling off in the sea.
Going to the beach is one of the most popular things to do in Cassis and one of the reasons many people choose to come to this part of the south of France throughout the year.
By early spring all the way to late-autumn, Cassis and most of the south of France remains perfect beach weather.
- Plage de la Grande Mer: The main beach in town and located right on the edge of the port, this isn’t the most beautiful beach in Cassis, but it is the easiest to get to and therefore one of the most popular with families. You can bring a picnic here from the market on Wednesday or Friday and relax all afternoon. It’s also a nice place to watch the boats come in and out of Cassis port.
- Plage du Corton: This is a very small mostly rocky beach that is just a nice place to stop on a walk to the next beach or to get away from the crowds because this tends to be much quieter than the other spots. If you just want to stop for a swim somewhere that isn’t busy, this is a good option. It’s also a great place to bring a snorkel and see some underwater life.
- Plage de l’Arène: Another quite rocky beach, this is a very popular Cassis beach thanks to how big the bay is. You can come here with a kayak, a SUP board, or to swim and relax, just be sure to bring something comfortable and kind of thick to lay down on the beach so you don’t lay on big rocks.
- Plage du Bestouan: This is my favorite Cassis beach that doesn’t require hiking to it. It’s a little bit away from the Cassis Port. It’s about a 10-minute walk and you head down a set of stairs to a somewhat rocky beach. It has a more adult vibe and the views and swimming here are simply incredible. There’s also a restaurant here that offers chairs that you can rent to sit on the beach as well as drinks and food.
- Plage Port Pin: Like I mentioned above about hiking, this is one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever been to. I highly recommend making the 30-minute walk to this beach and bringing plenty of water and snacks. It’s also worth coming early on a sunny day because it can get very busy.
7. Stay in a Castle (Chateau Cassis)
This chateau was built back in the fifth century by the Romans. It is packed with history and the owners have lovingly restored it so that you can now spend a night or two here (depending on your budget!) and feel like an absolute queen (or king!).
There are several different suites and rooms and most offer insane views back below over the Cassis Port. It has a stunning pool in the courtyard and for its hefty price tag (rooms start at €350 per night and go up from there ), you can explore this space and feel what it must have been like when this was part of the fortification and soldier stood here keeping an eye on the port.
You can learn more about staying at the Chateau on their website here.
8. Watch the Sunset
The sunsets in Cassis in the south of France are no joke.
The beautiful Cap Canaille, the giant red rock you see on the left side of the port when you are standing at it’s base, is the main event each night.
Our Airbnb had a straight view of it, but you can also sit at the beach or the lighthouse to take in these views each evening. Cap Canaille changes colors much like Ayers Rock in Australia and it is one of the most incredible sights each day.
Even after the sun goes below the horizon and Cap Canaille stops changing colors, the sky still manages to put on a show for you!
9. Hike to Different Viewpoints in Cassis
There are several other good hikes or walks to take around Cassis during your trip that don’t require you to commit several hours or fight the crowds of the Calanques National Park.
From the Cassis Port, you can walk past Plage de La Grande Mer and follow the path along the coast to reach this viewpoint. It’s an incredible way to get some exercise and to explore and see more of Cassis. This track will take you all the way to Plage du Corton.
The other walking trail that is worth exploring is the one on the opposite side of Port Miou.
You can walk out here mostly on roads and sidewalks and then when you reach the tennis club here, you hit a dirt track that takes you around the edges of this peninsula. There are a few more beaches out here and some stunning views back to both Port Cassis and Port Miou.
Take a Day Trip Tour to Cassis France
If you don’t have the time to spend several days in Cassis, then you can come here on a day trip from Marseille.
You can simply hop on the train in the morning and then head back in the early evening and that will give you time to take a boat trip around the Calanques as well as enjoy lunch at one of the fantastic restaurants.
However, if you want to see as much as possible and be taken around by someone, there are plenty of great day tours from Marseille that you can check out. These are some of the highest-rated on Get Your Guide.
- Marseille and Cassis Tour: Explore the Calanques by boat, explore the coastal road between Marseille and Cassis and stop for an up-close look at Cap Canaille which is the largest marine cliff in all of Europe. Book that day trip here.
- Aix-en-Provence and Cassis Tour: A day trip to two of Provence’s most stunning towns which include market day in Aix-en-Provence, a food tasting of local Provencal dishes, and time exploring Cassis. Book that tour here.
- Cassis Wine Tour: This is specifically a wine tour that starts in Marseille and shares some of Provence’s best wineries with you along the way. Book that tour here.
- Marseille and Cassis Tour: For a guided tour of Cassis and the opportunity to take a boat trip around the Calanques as well as a stop at the Notre Dame de la Garde this is a great option. Book that tour here.