Cassis is a popular destination for visitors hoping to avoid the crowds in Marseille and the famous beaches further east along the coast, or looking to combine a spot of sun-seeking with the little town's other attractions.
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This is a guide to the beaches of Cassis, starting at the Presqu'Ile, or Peninsula, on the western edge of town and ending with a couple of wild little coves along the coast south of the town towards La Ciotat. Click on the map to enlarge the image.
The calanques of Port Pin and En Vau, which are a one-hour and a two-hour hike west of the town respectively, both boast small, lovely beaches, very clear water and relative seclusion.
They are discussed in our guide to the calanques near Cassis. Click here to read a guide to the historic town of Cassis.
Don't be fooled by the name: there's no real beach at the Plage Bleue, or "blue beach", an area also sometimes known, more accurately, as Les Roches Plates (The Flat Rocks) or Les Roches Blanches (The White Rocks).
It offers superb views of the bay, the town of Cassis and Cap Canaille and is on the Peninsula, on the other side from the calanque of Port Miou.
Access to the sea at this point is difficult and slightly dangerous: you need to scramble down over great slabs of rock to get anywhere near the water. But it's a good spot to escape from at least some of the hoards in the town.
On the crest of the Peninsula, a restaurant, La Presqu'Ile, serves seafood, salads and simple grilled meat dishes and is open from May to September.
You can walk here in half an hour from the centre of town, drive (there is a large parking area), take the little tourist train from the harbour or catch the shuttle bus (navette) from the park-and-ride car-park Les Gorguettes on the edge of Cassis. Click here for more details of how to get to the Peninsula.
An area informally known as Plage Pamplemousse, or Grapefruit Beach, is favoured by (male) gay visitors and nudists (the nickname is inspired by the nearby Villa Pamplemousse, not by any anatomical features you might see there).
To find this beach, walk or drive along the avenue Jean-Jacques Garcin, which runs along the side of the Peninsula. Towards the north-eastern end, by house number 9, a small path leads off down to the coast. The Plage Pamplemouse is to the right as you arrive.
PLAGE DE BESTOUAN
A little further into town - though still quite a little distance from the main action on the harbour - is the Plage de Bestouan, a medium-sized sand and shingle beach, also with superb views.
It's the only beach in Cassis with the Blue Flag seal of approval for the quality of its water and environment.
Facilities include toilets, showers and snack kiosks and a lifeguard service until 7pm daily in the high season and at weekends in the mid-season. Dogs are not allowed.
Just across the road from the Plage de Bestouan is a hotel-bar-restaurant, Le Jardin d'Emile and overlooking it is Same Same Beach, a private beach-restaurant.
You can walk to the Plage de Bestouan in around 15 minutes from the harbour, catch the bus shuttle (navette) from the out-of-town car-park Les Gorguettes or drive there, taking a circuitous loop (1 km /0.8 mile) around the edge of Cassis.
Bestouan has a pay-for car-park with spaces for 105 cars and signs warning you not to leave valuables in your vehicle. A tunnel leads from the car-park directly to the beach, allowing you to access it without needing to use steps or to cross the busy coastal road.
PLAGE DE LA GRANDE MER
The Plage de la Grande Mer is right in Cassis town centre just south of the harbour and adjacent to a large pay-for car-park.
This beach is particularly well set-up for families but, because it is so convenient, it can get extremely busy in the summer (this photograph was taken in the early spring).
A restaurant, Le Grand Large, with plate glass windows and a little outdoor terrace overlooks the sand and shingle beach, and plenty of other bars and restaurants line the harbour front nearby.
For small children there's also a carousel with a Jules Verne theme and some unusual gondolas (a hot air balloon, a nautilus, a spaceship and so on).
This beach is easily accessible for wheelchairs and pushchairs. Facilities include sun-beds, kayaks and windsurfing equipment for hire, showers and a lifeguard service until 7pm daily in the high season and at weekends in the mid-season. Dogs are not allowed.
PLAGE DE CORTON
Further along the coast to the south of Cassis is a very small beach (pictured top left) which lays claim to two names, the Plage de Corton or (less often) the Plage Sainte Magdeleine.
It's a 15 minute walk from Cassis harbour, off the avenue de Revestel just before you arrive at La Villa Madie, a gastronomic restaurant with one Michelin star.
Go through the public car-park next to the Villa Madie and walk down the steps (there is no wheelchair or pushchair access) to find a secluded pebble beach facing south-west into a little bay. Here, as at the Plage de l'Arène, it's sometimes possible to do limited surfing, depending on weather conditions.
PLAGE DE L'ARENE
An attractive five minute walk further along the road from the Plage de Corton takes you past villas, vineyards and olive groves.
Turn right down a side-street by the end of the dual carriageway and go through a very small car-park with only about a dozen places and down a flight of steep steps to the Plage de l'Arène.
You will find a small, peaceful but very rocky beach fringed by pine trees. The Plage de l'Arène, like the Plage de Corton, is unsupervised and has no facilities.
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