Forgive me while we take a step back in time to the Côte d’Azur – when we returned from our trip there late September last year the timing felt a little off to me and I wanted to save my summer travel guides for a rainy day, a time when they would hopefully be more helpful to you (and yes also, bearing in mind my previous post, to me). And that time is now…
Cassis is somewhere that had been on my travel bucket list for years. I first saw an image of this most idyllic little French harbour village on Google or Pinterest, I forget now, and my love was ignited. In truth Cassis was the incentive for our entire trip last summer and yet, try as I might to find the perfect holiday rental, I could not – they were either too high up the hill, too small or too expensive – Cassis is not cheap. And so we wound up in the neighbouring La Ciotat, an entirely different place but also my more ‘authentic’ pick for this stretch of coastline (more on that later), just a short drive inland or along the stunning coastal road, Route des Crêtes, to pretty little Cassis.
We day-tripped here twice and truly did not much more than soak up the atmosphere and take in the sights. The best spot we found was the outdoor terrace at Le Golfe Hotel, almost the last place on the far side of the harbour so just a touch more peaceful than the centre which is bustling with tourists (even in mid September you should arrive no later than mid morning to secure a parking spot) and with a view across the port, past the rows of pastel coloured terraces reflected in Mediterranean water and out to the château which is now a hotel. Comfy wicker sofas await you under the shade of giant old trees and the cafe embraces a much slower pace than the rest of Cassis appears to.
My search for an infamous lavender ice-cream was sadly in vain with its popularity meaning it was largely sold out everywhere I checked… and not just in Cassis but in fact everywhere I checked along what felt like most of the entire Côte d’Azur – another reason to return perhaps.
We lunched in one of the many restaurants directly lining the water’s edge and, whilst I forget the name, it was nothing to write home about – not bad but not excellent either. I would advise to book ahead because this postcard perfect village is busy busy busy and touring restaurants in search of a shady table in the later summer heat is not an enviable task I assure you. Poissonerie Laurent, by the way, came very highly recommended to us but was only serving in the evening the days we visited.
Take time to explore the alleyways and browse the overpriced but beautiful shops. The beach here is teeny tiny but does have some options for dining almost directly on the sand, however, my vote would be for a view of that stunning harbour every time.
Perhaps I am saving my best kept Cassis secret for myself by not mentioning Les Roches Blanches but truly, to me, this warrants its own day trip and I am saving it for my complete Côte d’Azur travel guide – it is a destination in itself and one which, if your bank balance can stomach it, should most certainly be added to your list of the best places to stay…
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