Cassis, Corniche des Crêtes, Calanques
Cassis is apparently the most famous place between Toulon and Marseille. The place has less than 10.000 inhabitants; in the summer months, the population increases by a multiple due to the tourists. As Cassis is only 20 km distant to Marseille, it is of course influenced by the big city. But nevertheless, the small city is still able to keep its original charm and its cozyness.
The place is located in a well protected small bay. The quay swerves around the place at several hundred metres height, so that one literally has to drive down to Cannes. Traffic signs lead the visitor right to the Park Du Port, a very twisting, nearly adventurous parking house. It is better to continue driving and to get further down to some big parking places, but they are all with costs.
Right beside the harbour, there is the dreamy beach of Cassis. It is not surprising that numerous inhabitants of Marseille get here on the weekends for bathing. At this beach, there are showers, toilets, refreshments, cafés - everything what is needed.
Panorama Road Corniche des Crêtes
Why is the small place Cassis so famous? On one hand, it is a picturesque place with its flair and the dream beach itself. But it is much more the hinterland at the west and the east of the little city. At the east of Cassis, there is one of the most eautiful mountain roads of the south French coast, the Corniche des Crêtes.
On this street, one can drive from Cassis to La Ciotat in 2 hours instead of 15 minutes. It is not due to the reason the road is very long, no, it has a length of approximately 10-15 km. But it leads through the steep and mountaineous coastal stretch between the two places and many times, it invites to have a stop. From numerous view points, one sees the mountain rocks and the highest cliffs of France.
One gets faster forward on the road from Cassis to Marseille than on the Corniche des Crêtes. But this road does not lead alongside the coast but it Goes across the mountains (see the picture). Unfortunately, there are barely parking places on this beautiful stretch as the view to the mountains is fascinating. It is hard to believe that behind this mountain stretch, the second biggest city of France is located, is it?
Calanques - Dreamy Bathing Bays
At the west of Cassis, thus between Marseille and Cassis, there is the main attraction of the whole coastal pice between Toulon and Marseille: the Calanques. Calanques are bays that are cut into the limestone rocks . The bays are of different sizes, in some of them there are even small harbours and beaches; Each of the bays are only accessible either by ship or by foot. The road passes the rocks, so that by car, one does not have any access to these fascinating places.
How were the Calanques originated? First, the bays were valleys through which the rivers and brooks disembogued into the sea; When the Mean Sea Level rised at the end of the last glacial period, these valleys were filled with rain water and the water bays of today emerged. The turquoise-coloured water in these bays is of a very good quality and really invite to have a bath.
From Cassis, numerous ships start to the Calanques. The are different tours that vary in the time and the service; A tour of approximately 2 hours that takes one to 8 Calanques führt, costs approximately 20 €. Such a tour is worthwhile in any case, as the views are fascinating and unforgettable. One important tip: one should in nay case get early to the ship, even if there is still half an hour waiting time in the harbour. As only those who sit at the right side have the best view to the Calanques; those who sit at the left will have to look over the heads of those sitting at the right.
The Calanques also developed to a populr place for diving, as the water is very clear and the underwater world is intact. Most of the times, the excursion ships from Cassis have some windows at the lower body, so that one can have a look in the underwater world of the bays without getting wet.
The front Calanques can be accessed from Cassis by foot at maximum two hours. Those who spent several days in Cassis should not miss to walk at least to one Calanque; Not only the bay itself is fascinating but also the nature of the hinterland of the bay. There are also several hiking paths in the Calanques and in their hinterland.
Copyright: Patrick Wagner, www.tourist-guide.biz