Cassis is a small fishing port on a steep hillside with vineyards and pastel-colored houses which tumble down to the seaside port lined with more pastel-colored houses and shops with 8,000 inhabitants. It’s an easy drive of only 1,5 hours from our beloved Provence, about 20 km east of Marseille.The port is filled with little fishing boats, yachts and a collection of charter boats that take visitors out to the calanques (little coastal fjords with tall cliffs). You can just chill on the dock like we did, soak up the Indian summer sun and watch the boats sail by…
The area where Cassis now sits was first occupied between 500 and 600 BC by people from Liguria, a region of north-western Italy, who built a fortified habitation at the top of the Baou Redon. These people lived by fishing, hunting, and farming. No suprise therefore that we visited Cassis on our way to Apricale, which I featured in one of my previous articles! Cassis became renowned as a holiday resort at the end of the 19th century drawing such notable visitors as Virginia Woolf. In the 1920s, Winston Churchill came to Cassis and took painting lessons during his stay in the town.
Frédéric Mistral, the Nobel Prize-winning author and defender of the provençal language and traditions, also took a liking to Cassis. The writer famously declared, in the provençal language, “Qu’a vist Paris, se noun a vist Cassis, pou dire, ‘n’ai rèn vist’.” “He who has seen Paris but not Cassis can say, ‘I haven’t seen anything’.” This being said…you understand that you MUST visit Cassis at least once in a lifetime!
Cassis is one of only a handful of Mediterranean ports where fishermen still use the small, double-ended boats known as pointus. The boats, with their extended bow posts, have remained much the same for about 2000 years.
Fishing was the main industry of Cassis for many years. Now there are only 8 fishing crews which operate out Cassis. The town holds a festival every year during June and July to celebrate the fishermen, the sea and their patron saint, St.Peter. Events include the procession of the “prud-hommes” (regulators of the local fishing industry), the blessing of the boats, water jousts, grilled sardines and anchovies and dancing. Ambiance guaranteed!
The port is lined with tourist shops, terrace cafés and restaurants which offer a variety of food and prices. As usual, you can click on each picture to see enlarged!
Jeu de Boules
The sun was definitely shining brightly so the locals were playing intense games of the Provençal sport known as Jeu de Boule near the harbor at Gilbert Savon Square. Just for your information, Petanque is the Provencal variant of jeu de boules, although both terms are often used as synonyms. Jeu de boules includes all games played with metal balls.