calanques cassis south france

Cassis is a lovely coastal town in South France. Cassis is blessed with some of the most dramatic beaches on the French Riviera. The stretch of Southern France coastline between Marseille and Cassis has quite a few dull beaches, but the beautiful fjord-like inlet near Cassis called Calanques de Port Miou, offers the most amazing beach in the South of France. With crystal clear turquoise waters and the dramatic cliffs plunging into the sea, the Calanques is a spectacular location. But this is not the only Cassis beach to visit.

Best Cassis beaches France

Cassis is sheltered from the Mediterranean sea by a small curve in the coastline. The town of Cassis is surrounded by white chalky cliffs, in which the sea has carved 20 inlets or calanques. The most famous of these is Calanques de Port-Miou, which is a 35 minute walk from the centre of Cassis. This sheltered inlet was once a limestone quarry, but it now forms the perfect setting for a marina. At the end of the inlet there is a small rocky beach which provides fantastic views out to sea. It is also popular with scuba divers, kayakers and tourists taking pleasure boat trips from nearby Marseille (just 30 mins up the coast). 

Further around the coast, in fact just over the headland from Calanques Port-Miou, there is the sister inlet of Calanque de Port Pin and the beautiful Calanque d'en Vau. Both of these inlets enjoy the same turquoise clear waters and small rocky beaches. At the highest point, the cliffs that frame the inlet reach up to 500 ft and these are popular spots for local teenagers who plunge down into the waters below.


Plage de la Grand Mer, Cassis beach

Cassis was and still is a small fishing port. Most of the beaches around Cassis are now given over to private beach clubs where you can rent out sunbeds. There is one public beach in the town, but it is very crowded and not that exciting. To the west side of the harbour, there is Plage de la Grande Mer, which is a curving sandy beach located beneath the castle. This is a big sandy beach which is perfect for families. The sea is very shallow and ther are roped of areas of the beach reserved for swimmers only. It has also become one of the first beaches in France to introduce a complete smoking ban.

Plage de la Grand Mer does get extremely busy in the summer and you are best to either arrive early in the morning or later on in the afternoon to get a good place to stretch out.

The beach and the Mediterranean sea here have been painted by a range of famous artists, including Winston Churchill (who learnt to paint in Cassis before the Second World War), Raoul Dufy and Matisse (who travelled to Cassis many times from his home in St Paul de Vence).

x cassis calanques beach 

Other beaches in Cassis

Plage du Corton and Plage de l'Arène, both south of the town, are two naturally rocky beaches bordered by pines.

La Plage du Bestouan and La Plage Bleue are both west of the port. In between these two beaches there is a large sloping stone cove popular with nudists.

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