"Qu'a vist Paris e noun Cassis a ren vist."
"Anyone who has seen Paris, but hasn’t seen Cassis, hasn’t seen anything" Frédéric Mistral (1830-1914)
In 2018, the village was awarded the fourth flower of the "Villes et Villages Fleuris" label.
Nestling in a natural casket where pine forests rub shoulders with ochre and white rocks, the vineyards on the plains and terraces that stretch down to the Mediterranean sea, Cassis is protected by the two monuments of nature that are Cap Canaille(tallest coastal cliff in Europe) glowing red when the Mistral blows, and the white limestone Calanques.
"Qu'a vist Paris, se noun a vist Cassis, pou dire: n'ai rèn vist"
These words written by Frédéric Mistral, the Nobel prize-winner for literature, are all it takes to describe the incredible attraction that Cassis exerts on everyone who goes there. This little fishing harbour, nestling between two exceptional natural sites (the famous Massif des Calanques and the majestic Cap Canaille) offers its visitors a concentrate of Provence and the Mediterranean.
The magic already works its wonders on the little road that takes you to the village snaking its way down between vineyards and pine woods. The charm shows itself as you explore the little alleyways and squares edged with colourful fishermen’s houses. Cassis marks everyone’s minds forever as they discover the harbour for the first time, its boats and welcoming café terraces.
The small alleys of the old Cassis
Municipal Museum of Mediterranean Popular Arts & Traditions
Just two steps away from the harbour, in the heart of the town, the museum is housed in a former presbytery dating back to the beginning of the 17th century.
The building may be austere, but the interior – all charm and balance – is sure to seduce you as soon as you enter. There is a succession of permanent and temporary exhibitions, and Christmas is regularly celebrated there in a very special way.
Its collections of paintings (the oldest one dates from 1601), its Roman remains and amphora propose a diversity that’s sure to charm the visitors.
A reading corner and mini-boutique, complete this stopping place honoured on a number of occasions by major guidebooks: BBC, Athéna Review, le Figaro Méditerranée and various local radio stations.
Phone: +33 (0)4 42 18 36 78
Fax : +33 (0)4 42 01 66 87
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
Free admission. Paying guided tours for groups.
Wednesday to Saturday
June to the end of September:
10am to 12.30 pm and 2 to 6pm
October to the end of May:
10am to 12.30 pm and 2 to 5.30pm
Le four banal(Communal Oven)
Located in Rue Thérèse Rastit, in the heart of the historical fishermen’s quarter, it dates from the second half of the 17th century. With its remarkable dimensions and excellent state of preservation, it bears witness to the activities of bygone days.
The excavations undertaken in February and March 2001 by archaeologists from Var led to the discovery of a large number of ceramic artifacts, confirming the existence of an active port in this area between the first and sixth centuries AD.
Visit of the Communal Oven
The ‘Four Banal’ is open to the public from 9am to 12.30 and from 1.30 to 5pm, every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, and on Wednesdays from 9am to 12.30pm (except on public holidays). Free admission.
Information on +33 (0)4 42 01 39 94.
The Tourist Office proposes guided tours in July and August. Information and booking at the Tourist Office.
A dive into history
In 1991 Henri Cosquer, a diver from Cassis, discovered an underwater cave in an exceptional state of preservation. Scientists have been able to ascertain that this cave was occupied during two distinct periods.
The negative hand outlines date back about 27,000 years, whereas the drawings and engravings of animals are more recent: 18,500 years old. For safety reasons the cave is not open to the public.
The religious buildings
Placed under the authority of the Bishops of Marseille until the French Revolution, the district of Cassis has always been steeped in religiosity. This spiritual life is still very much in evidence in the present-day Cassis with its oratories dotted along its streets and paths. Often located beside a path or a surrounding wall, eleven oratories can still be seen in Cassis today.
Built of dressed stone or masonry, consisting of a pedestal and an ogival recess, sometimes even round-headed, they are usually surmounted by a wrought iron cross, and some of them still shelter a statue bearing witness to a particular devotion: Oratory of the Virgin Mary, Oratory of Mary Magdalene, Oratory of the Child Jesus, Oratory of Saint Joseph, Oratory of Saint Anthony of Padua, Oratory of Saint Charles Borromeo, Oratory of Saint Lazarus, Oratory of Saint Vincent, Oratory of Our Lady of Sorrows, Oratory of Saint Luke, Oratory of the Virgin Mary.
Officially inaugurated in 1875, the church is consecrated to Saint Michael, to our Lady of the Sea and Saint Roch.
Historically, it was the third church to be built in Cassis.
Built with Cassis stone in the neo-Romanesque style with three naves, it is 32 m long and 18 m wide, and has seating for 400.
Restored in 1958, its cupola was repaired recently.
The municipal buildings
L'Hôtel de Ville (Town Hall)
This private mansion was built during the 17th century by Désiré of Moustiers, former consul of Marseille. It then passed through the hands of several owners before being bought in 1938 by the municipality of Cassis to serve as the Town Hall which resides there since 1945.
It has been listed as historic building since 1984 thanks to the rich heritage that it holds within: the Salon d'Honneur with its coffered ceiling, the Renaissance chimney, the chapel with its ornate ceiling, the facade with its Louis XIII windows and the fine entrance hall with balustrade staircase. Restoration work carried out in 1998 allowed the update of its medieval vestiges which are visible from the ground floor thanks to windows in the flagstones.
The fountain Baragnon
In the middle of the park, this fountain pays homage to Pierre Baragnon, owner of the manor house of Fontcreuse in the 19th century and General Adviser of the Canton for 20 years whose untiring efforts allowed the adduction of water from the Marseilles channel to Cassis in 1892.
The Four Nations Fountain
This recently constructed fountain is the heiress of an older one built in 1690. This monument reproduced a Parisian fountain that was built in 1686 to celebrate the victories of Louis XIV. It was so finely executed that when seen by Parisian travellers they noted in their correspondence "those who have seen the Fountain of Paris, haven't seen anything until they've seen the Fountain of Cassis".
This expression, transformed by Frederic Mistral at the beginning of the 20th century, endures and has become emblematic of the village. According to local history, the original fountain was accidentally broken in 1785 by a Catalan fisherman who had climbed to the top of it so that he could have a better view of the Midsummer's Day festivities of Saint-Jean.
This country house of italo-provençal style formerly belonged to a wine grower from Cassis. It has been restored by the Municipality in full respect of the site and it now accommodates, on three floors, the Public library and the School of Music which is housed in an ancient greenhouse that overhangs a decorative garden which is completed by a pool.
Tribunal de Pêche (Fishing Court)
Located alongside the port on the Barthelemy quay, it testifies to the long-time prevalent activity of the commune that is the fight by the people of Cassis to distance themselves from the "despotic, tyrannical, expensive, suspect and abusive" jurisdiction of the conciliation boards of Marseilles. This right was granted to them in 1791.
The facade of the courthouse houses, in a niche, a wooden statue of Saint Pierre, (Saint Peter) patron saint of the fishermen’s guild, which was restored in 1984 and is traditionally carried out in procession to the church on the last Sunday in June on the occasionof theSaintPierre. The ceremony is followed by a blessing made at sea to all boats and by a homage made to all missing sailors.
Joined to the castle, this habitation from the turn of the 20th century owes its name to its style, which recalls the colonial properties that were built in Algeria at about the same time. It was bought, along with the castle of which it was formerly dependant, by an American who had fallen in love with Cassis.
On his death, his estate was passed from hand to hand, until the Municipality repurchased the Villa in 1979. Currently closed to the public, it is undergoing a restoration project to develop a cultural space.
Bestouan Iron Factory
Located at the end of the bay of Bestouan, it constitutes a fine example of industrial heritage from the Second French Empire. It was the location of a very short-lived iron and steel industry considering that its construction began in 1856 and its liquidation was marked in 1861.
Fate dealt a bad hand when, just at the beginning of its operations, there was a serious economic crisis which proved to be fatal. Two inhabited lodging, a wall at the foot of the cliff, an arched door framed by two semi-circular windows, stone crows and a chimney 33 meters high, remain the only vestiges of that era.
Privately owned buildings
A fortified enclosure built in the 13th and 14th centuries, no doubt on top of the remains of an earlier building dating from the 8th century.
The Castrum belonged to the powerful Baux family from 1232 onwards. They also owned the barony of Aubagne and the seigneury of Roquefort.
It was inside this "Castrum" that the mediaeval Cassis developed, seeking to protect itself from the barbarian invasions and brigands.
At the end of the 15th century, this fortress housed more than 250 people.
Stormed by Charles Quint’s troops in 1524, the Citadel was gradually abandoned in favour of the town on the coast, and became a military fort.
Sold by the State in 1896 and then sold on several times, the Château has been a privately owned property since, and is now luxury guest house.
The Camargo foundation
At the beginning of the nineteen thirties, when he was studying painting in Paris, Jérôme Hill, an American artist and heir to the founder of the Great Northern Railroad came on several trips to Cassis.
He definitively succumbed to the magic of the place in 1939 by buying a house and some adjoining land from Madge Oliver, and English artist and art teacher, who counted Winston Churchill among her most illustrious students.
In 1960 the artist, who had since become a patron of the arts, extended his property by buying the neighbouring Hôtel Panorama. In 1967, he set up the Camargo Foundation which every year hosts up to twelve ‘fellows’ – painters, plastic artists, writers, photographers, film-makers – who want to carry out works on French culture, accompanied by their families.
The Foundation’s buildings today house the apartments intended for the artists, along with a library, a music room, a conference hall and a darkroom for the photographers.
The Christmas festivities
In Provence, the Christmas festivities are always something special. And this couldn’t be more true than in Cassis where the traditions continue to be strong and firmly anchored. There are a series of events and opportunities for wonderment, lasting longer than a month, for the great joy of the young and not so young alike.
Amongst the events organised during this enchanting period:
The celebration of Sainte-Barbe where the wheat that will decorate the Christmas table is planted by all the families.
“The Provençal Christmas Market” which is held over ten days in the heart of the village, on the Place Baragnon. This market allows the visitors to fill their “stocking” with good and lovely things, bought from the best craftsmen and producers who flock here from all over the region. The Christmas Concert where the most beautiful traditional songs are sung, after having been enthusiastically rehearsed by the volunteers. Christmas cribs spring up all along the advent period in public places – the public garden, the town hall and in every house.
Midnight Mass – a great moment of contemplation – marks the festive season’s grand finale.
‘La Pastorale Maurel’ has been put on every year in Cassis since the nineteen thirties. This play is acted and sung in Provençal, relating the “star’s progress”, the departure of the people of Provence for Bethlehem, after the angel Boufareu has announced the “good news” – the nativity – to them.
The Cassis Wine Festival
(end of May)
This festival is held every year in September to honour the Cassis vineyards according to a well-established programme:
Mass in Provençal at Saint Michel’s Church.
Dance of the vine stock on the square in front of the church with local folklore groups.
Procession of the region’s folklore groups.
Tasting and sale of Cassis wine, organised by the Cassis wine-growers.
Around this celebration of the Vine, some of the great “starred” chefs will present their culinary creations at the time of demonstrations and workshops at the ‘Vendanges Étoilées’ (Star-Studded Grape Harvest).
Vendanges étoilées - Star-Studded Grape Harvests
(end of September)
Between land and sea, between the vines, Calanques and Canaille, Cassis for the fifth successive year is hosting “Les Vendanges Étoilées”, the rendezvous that can’t be ignored by gourmets and epicureans alike.
We invite you to:
Learn how to make the most of the local produce in harmony with all the subtlety of the wines of Cassis. Discover a culinary knack, an exceptional recipe, remarkable produce. Enjoy dishes made before your very eyes by starred chefs and up-and-coming chefs. Share together exceptional moments in unique surroundings: Cassis…
Cassis, a jewel, a terroir for honouring the riches of Mediterranean gastronomy and the people who make it possible…
Festival of the fishermen and the sea
(last weekend in June)
Two days dedicated exclusively to fishing and the sea. The major event during this festival is the blessing of Saint-Peter in Saint Michel’s church on the Sunday morning. Mass is followed by a procession of the Prud'hommes and the blessing of the boats in the sea. All weekend long, there is a succession of sea-related events.
Cassis and its artists
A host of artists have been drawn by the charm of Cassis and its light.
Works depicting the port, village, Calanques and surrounding landscapes are on show in some of the greatest museums.
Every year since 1995 the "L'Art et la Manière" association has organised the "Place aux Peintres" exhibition. This is an intimate outdoor exhibition that brings together about 35 talented artists, painters and sculptors. It is held one Sunday a month from April to October.
Writers in Cassis
There isn’t really a Virginia Woolf route, nothing signposted anyway. You can simply imagine the paths she took and the places she appreciated, thanks to her letters. Virginia Woolf described Cassis as being a “little paradise". She stayed here in 1925, 1927, 1928 and 1929. "In all she only spent a few weeks here, but they were so intense and luminous they had the taste of eternity".
There is a book "Virginia Woolf à Cassis", with bilingual texts in French and English and photos, that proposes "A reverie around Cassis ": views of the lighthouse, Cap Canaille, the paths she may have taken through the vineyards edged with low dry-stone walls, the houses she lived in.
She stayed in the village several times with her sister Vanessa and the Bloomsbury Group, particularly at the "Villa Les Mimosas", Avenue du Revestel and at the Domaine de Fontcreuse. Unfortunately, none of these private residences are currently open for visits, except for the vineyards of the Château de Fontcreuse (but not the houses).
"In the steps of Virginia Woolf " allows you to immerse yourself in a state of mind, and look for the village as she perhaps knew it …
Cassis and film
The cinema has always played an important part in our dreams, you just have to look at the cinema attendance figures to understand that films are a way for getting away from it all for many of us. According to the CNC (French National Cinema Centre), 207.8 million tickets were sold in France, that is to say 6 % more than in 2013.
Discovering landscapes, a town through a story that moves us, makes us laugh, makes us cry marks our minds. It arouses our curiosity, encourages us to discover these places that have struck our imagination.
300,000 visitors declare that they came to our region after having seen a film shot here. (CRT PACA figures).
Since the cinema was created in La Ciotat, the département of Bouches du Rhône has been one of the départements that has been the most filmed by film-makers, lovers of Provence.
Cassis, this little fishing village nestling between the Calanques and Cap Canaille, has seduced and continues to seduce film directors, actors and scriptwriters of every nationality.
The variety of the scenery, its natural and architectural heritage, its international reputation attract an average of one hundred shoots every year.
Many are the films that have been shot in Cassis between 1920 and 2015 - fifty in fact, some of them in their entirety, and others just for several scenes.
Film-makers are drawn by the light and decor of our peaceful little fishing harbour. The stories told usually involve two themes, on the one hand the dark aspect of detective films, and there Cassis serves as a base for shady characters, smugglers, drug dealers. On the other hand, you have the idyllic aspect, where Cassis is the place for leading the good life, where you can take your time and meet up with friends and, why not, find your soul mate.
From the legendary ‘Naïs’ to ‘Fantômas’ not to mention ‘Bienvenue Chez les Chti’ or ‘Sur un arbre perché’, southern joviality mixes in with comical dialogues, pastis, cicadas, petanque, fishing and the sunshine. The accent, the typical gestures of Provençal exoticism, the alleyways, the turquoise sea, the hills, everything comes together to make films that are totally unique.
The Tourist Office in Cassis proposes guided tours around the theme of the Cinema and Celebrities, all year round.