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A Gem in Southern Provence

Indagare’s Marley Lynch recently traveled to Provence, where she visited the charming coastal town of Cassis—known for the strikingly dramatic white cliffs that divide it and the Mediterranean. Here, she shares her tips on visiting the enchanting region. For help planning your trip, contact our Bookings Team.

Just beyond the hectic port city of Marseille, Cassis is renowned for its strikingly beautiful calanques, or white limestone cliffs, that drop dramatically into the cerulean waters below. Often referred to as the Mediterranean fjords, the beautiful cliffs are a sight worth seeing, but combined with the crescent-shaped town of Cassis and the region’s amazing wineries, a full day in the region is a lovely addition to any Southern Provence itinerary.

A historical port of call from the first century BC, Cassis hit a rough patch between the fifth and tenth centuries, when it’s residents were forced to retreat to a stone citadel high up on the bluffs due to the barbarian invasions. Remains of the fortress still stand, and are best viewed from the water below. But to really explore all dozen of the calanques between Cassis and Marseille, a private boat is recommended (athough you can also hike more than 17 miles of trails on the steep rocks). All are uninhabited except Morgiou and Sugiton, two colorful villages located within the calanques closest to Marseille. Despite the lack of running water and electricity, the villages are a hot summer destination for city-dwelling locals, who decamp to their cabanons (weekend bungalows) for the warmer months.

Indagare recommends chartering a private boat for the day, allowing one flexibility to go swimming or have a picnic whenever one wishes. You’d be remiss not to bring along some of the area’s famous rosé, like a bottle from the stunning winery Clos Sainte Magdeleine.

  • When to Go: Summer is the prime time to go to Provence. Early September—after the masses of European tourists have returned home—offers perfect weather and far fewer crowds.
  • Getting There: Fly into Marseille, the capital of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region. From there, the picturesque seaside town of Cassis is an 18-mile drive east.
  • Highlights: Renting a boat to visit the calanques of Cassis is an absolute must.
  • Who Should Go: Do-if-yourself travelers will enjoy the adventure of renting a car and exploring the lovely coastal towns of Southern France at their own pace.

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