The best-kept secret in southern France is Cassis. And we love it!! We’re talking about the town, not the fruit, though we’d probably love that, too. Cassis is a favorite vacation destination, as well as weekend get-away for the French and we can totally see why. Located on the southern edge of France, between Marseilles and Toulon, Cassis has the appeal of a coastal fishing village and the relaxed feel of a Riviera beach without the massive crowds.
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It’s obviously been a popular port for quite some time and prehistoric cave drawings found in Grotte Cosquer, now underwater, date back to the Upper Paleolithic era (27,000 B.C.). Additional archaeological finds, which include ancient coins, add weight to the belief that the Greeks may have settled in Cassis, and it’s been recorded that the area was inhabited by the Celto-Ligurians some time around 500 B.C. But, it was the Romans who made the first written reference to this quaint harbor. They called it Carcisis Portus. In later years, the town’s claim to fame was the natural stone found along the cliffs. This ‘Stone of Cassis’ would be used in the construction of the docks in major ports from Algeria to Greece. It was also used in the construction of ‘le phare du Planier’, a lighthouse in Marseilles, and ‘le phare de Cassis’, the lighthouse in the port of Cassis. This white limestone was also used to create the base of the Statue of Liberty.
Like many other French towns and cities, Cassis is dotted with sidewalk cafes, pizzerias, creperies, and ice cream vendors. But, for us, the things that make Cassis special are the slower pace, picture postcard scenery (day and night) and local cuisine (mainly seafood).