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Cassis is a quiet, peaceful village, nestling between Cape Canaille to the East, the highest sea cliff in Europe and the edges of the rocky Gardiole range to the west.
“Qui a visit Paris e noun Cassis a ren vist” says the city’s motto (If you’ve seen Paris and not Cassis you’ve seen nothing). But despite this self-mockery, this small port really can be proud of its magnificent surroundings.
In particular, En Vau Calanque which according to some is the most beautiful of all. Cassis is also famous for its wine which is classfied AOC.
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The antique Roman Port of Carcisis belonged to the powerful bishops of Marseille in the middle Ages. The inhabitants lived on the proceeds of fishing until the 17th century when the port began to develop trade due to the proximity of Marseille, but also it exported wine and stone.
Indeed, in the nearby Port of Miou, the quarry produced beautiful white stone which was used on certain quays of the Suez Canal.
The holiday resort of Cassis first became famous at the end of the last century and has continued to develop. Virginia Woolf often stayed in Cassis and described it as ‘The Paradise’. Visitors such as Derain, Vlaminck and Matisse who came for its light, confirm this opinion.
The heart of the town is its small harbour with sunlit terraces and white sails gliding over its clear blue sea. From here, after following the sea front, the walker can take the famous Lombards promenade which offers a thirty minute walk with a superb view over the bay. A footpath leads up to the ruined castle dating from the 13th century which once belonged to the Seigneur Huges des Baux.
Museum of Arts
The cool streets of the old town have some attractive 17th and 18th century houses. The town hall and its gardens date from the 17th century and some of the frescos evoke Greek mythology. The Municipal Museum of Arts and Popular Traditions houses interesting exhibits from the city’s past amphora, Roman and Greek money, together with works by regional painters such as Ziem.
Cassis is a base for discovering the Calanques of Port Miou, Port Pin and En Vau by sea.
Throughout the year, pleasure boats take visitors on sea trips to visit these sites and there is also an Aquascope, an original boat with a glass bottom to see the fauna and flora of the seabed.