I am FINALLY getting around to sharing about our epic trip down to the southern coast of France to visit the quaint fishing town of Cassis – this city had been on my list forever! I am actually glad we waited to go until the kids were a bit older (5 and 7), as a BIG part of visiting Cassis is hiking. Cassis is snuggled up next to the Calanques National Park, which boasts a stunning coastline of gleaming white inlets plunging into turquoise water, and in my opinion the BEST way to enjoy the views is by hiking through the park. More on that later!
We went at the end of October / beginning of November, which was excellent timing IMO. In the summer, the southern coast of France draws quite a few tourists, and can be pretty hot to boot. In fall, it was pleasantly calm, with the Calanques Park being almost empty early in the day, and the weather was perfection – you’ll see we are in shorts and tee shirts. I will also say that we personally went for the Marseille – Cassis running race – a 20km epic race through the mountains that stretch between the 2 cities, with views of the Mediterranean sea… keep it in mind if that is your sort of thing and you can visit at the beginning of November.
Visiting Cassis could easily be paired with a stop in Marseille, a vibrant and underrated city if you ask me. 3 days is plenty of time in this charming little city.
Highlights of Cassis include: hiking in the Calanques National Park, boating along the stunning coast, eating fresh seafood at the many restaurants lining the port, and going to the beaches in the heart of the city.
Cassis is mostly known for one thing in particular- it’s close proximity to the Calanques (and the Calanques National Park), these crazy bright white inlets that plunge into clear turquoise water along the coast surrounding Cassis. The terrain is gorgeous, and best experienced by hiking. There are about 20 calanques to visit, but with kids it’s best to focus on the two closest to Cassis - Calanque de Port Miou and Calanque de Port Pin. These two are accessible by foot from Cassis - count about a 20 minute walk from the port to the start of the trail, and then about an hour walk to the Port Pin and a gorgeous swimming spot. Calanque d’En-Vau is about 3 hours each way (with a kid friendly paceJ) and apparently one of the most beautiful- I’m eyeing it for when the kids are older!
The hike was fine for kids ages 5 and 7. Wear sturdy shoes, and bring plenty of water and snacks - there is nothing available once you start hiking! We made a game of finding the trail markers that kept the kids entertained for the bulk of the walk. Also - try to start early! We started at 9am, and we’re leaving the park by noon… just as hordes of people were arriving.
The second best (and less tiring) way to admire the coast is to take a boat ride – another must in Cassis! It seems like any trip we go on involves a boat ride in some form - we almost always reserve them for the afternoon when everyone is worn out. The Calanque boat ride was the perfect afternoon activity after our morning hiking. We hopped on one of the boats in the harbor (we used Bateliers Cassadain, but they all seemed about the same), after purchasing tickets about 30 minutes before the departure time from the ticket office on the harbor – no need to reserve way in advance I would say. Sea kayaking is another popular way to view the Calanques – I cannot wait to go back once the kids are bigger to experience that!
There are varying lengths of boat ride - 3 Calanques in 45 minutes, 5 in 65 mins, 8 in 90 mins, etc. Prices range from 17 -29 euros for adults, and 10-20 euros for kids over 4. Kids under 5 are a steal of a deal at 1€ 😂 I think 3 out of 4 of us passed out in the sun for a portion of the ride:) Perfect vacation nap!
As far as restaurants, we went all in on the seafood restaurants along the port. Always check ratings on Google before selecting a spot – of course some are catering to tourists and don’t try hard on quality. By checking ratings, we only had good meals. I love a good port view while dining tooJ Our favorite meals in order of preference were at La Nonna, Le Grand Bleu and Nino’s (this was the fanciest one). These all had great kids’ meals and felt very vacation-y thanks to the beautiful views.
There is also an excellent ice cream shop on the port – Casalini was a daily stop while we stayed in Cassis!
Another fun thing about Cassis is that there are some acceptable beaches RIGHT in town! We spent one afternoon picnicking in the sunshine at the Plage de la Grande Mer, and the Plage du Bestouan also looked great for an impromptu beach trip for kids.
There you have it! Have you been to Cassis before? What did you think? It is now one of my favorite spots for a vacation, especially if you are looking for some outdoor activities.