Visiting Cassis with kids

Along the sun-kissed coastline of the South of France lies the charming Provençal fishing village of Cassis. Situated just a stone’s throw away from Marseille and south of Aix-en-Provence, Cassis is a wonderful little town to visit with kids. Here, you can enjoy everything from scenic hikes and boat trips in the Calanques National Park to relaxing beach days and just chilling at cafés in the colorful harbor.  

While many visit Cassis as a day trip from Marseille, there’s plenty to keep you entertained for longer stays. Getting there by train from Marseille is a breeze. It’s just a quick 20-minute ride to arrive at the train station in Cassis. From there, take a bus, or taxi or walk to your destination. The town is very small and it’s easy to walk everywhere. Therefore, you don’t need a car here unless you plan to drive along the coast of the French Riviera.

We visited Cassis with our kids in April during the French school holidays, and it wasn’t crowded at all. However, the town tends to get busier and hotter in the summer months, so if possible, consider visiting just before or after the high season.

Things to do in Cassis with kids

If you’re travelling to Cassis with kids, here are my recommendations for kid-friendly activities in Cassis.

Old Port-Cassis with kids-the Knowledge nuggets

1. Explore the Port of Cassis

The port of Cassis has been the heart of Cassis since Roman times, bustling with life as a vital trading post. Today, it still remains a lively working harbour, with fishing and sailing boats sharing space amidst vibrant cafes and restaurants that spill onto the streets. It’s a beautiful place for a stroll where you’ll find plenty of choices where to eat at any time of the day.

There are several ice cream choices available, but we especially enjoyed Maison Casalini, serving artisan Italian ice cream for over 50 years.

Early birds can explore a small local fish market, where fishermen sell their daily catches, many of which find their way onto the menus of nearby eateries.

Just a 5-minute walk from the old port is Jardin Public de Cassis. Here you will find a small playground for toddlers and a lovely shaded garden to stop by for a rest.

2. Spend the day at the beach

Cassis is more of a port town than a typical beach town and doesn’t have long stretches of sand. It does, however, have some pebbly beaches where you can bask in the sun and swim in the crystal-clear blue waters.

Only a 5-minute walk away from the old port is Plage de la Grande Mer. Here, you’ll find many families with kids swimming, relaxing and playing in the water. In April, it was too cold for us to swim in April, but warm enough for kids to splash around by the shore and spend hours gathering various rocks.

3. Check out the local markets

Every Wednesday and Friday morning, from 8 am to 1.30 pm, there is a weekly market where local farmers and artisans come together to sell fruits, vegetables, baked goods, cheese, flowers etc. It’s a good place to pick up some fresh produce for a picnic on the beach. Depending on the time of the year you visit, there will be other pop-up art and flea markets. Check out what’s on offer during your visit on the website of the town of Cassis.

4. Go hiking

Cassis is located at the eastern edge of the Calanques National Park, serving as one of the main entry points for visitors to explore the park’s stunning Calanques. The park covers an area of approximately 520 sq. km. and is well known for its rugged limestone cliffs, turquoise waters, and picturesque calanques, which are steep-walled inlets formed by erosion.

Calanques National Park – hiking options with kids

There are several hiking trails, ranging from easy to challenging. The three closest Calanques to visit from Cassis are Port-Miou, Port-Pin and En-Vau. If you’re considering hiking in Cassis to the Calanques with kids, then I would suggest visiting only the first two Calanques. This is because the path gets rocky and very steep as you go further. For this reason, the path can be dangerous to navigate with younger kids.

Start your hike to the Calanque of Port-Miou at the end of Avenue des Calanques, and follow the signs marking the hike. This is an easy 30-minute walk from the port to a harbour, lined with hundreds of boats. From there, follow the scenic hiking trail for about 25 minutes to reach the Calanque de Port Pin. It’s a narrow cove with clear shallow waters and a sheltered beach. You can sit on the shore, enjoy the scenery, have a snack and maybe even take a dip in the water.

If you’re travelling with young kids, I would suggest stopping the hike here and returning to Cassis to relax on the beach there. Certainly, if you have older children who are keen to explore further, then head to the next Calanque d’En Vau which is about a 45 – 60-minute walk away. The path gets steeper and significantly more difficult on this stretch of the hike but you are rewarded with a beautiful beach before you. Plan for about four hours to hike the three Calanques and return to Cassis.

Tips for hiking the Calanques with kids:

  • Bring enough water and snacks for the whole family as there is nowhere to buy these on the way
  • Take a sun hat and sun cream
  • Set out early in the day to reduce sun exposure and avoid the crowds in the peak season
  • The park may be closed due to the risk of wildfires and adverse weather conditions, so check before you leave
  • Wear sturdy shoes with good grip to avoid falling as rocks can be slippery in places
  • Download a mobile application called “MesCalanques”, which gives you live updates, maps and other useful information for your walk.

5. Take a boat trip

If hiking is not your thing or if you have younger children, then I recommend taking a group boat trip to see the Calanques from the water. This is what we did on our last visit and we really enjoyed it. Keep in mind that you can’t go far into each Calanque with the boat and you don’t stop for swimming. Nevertheless, we still really enjoyed sailing along the coast and getting up close to the cliff edges.

There are regular boat trips daily departing from the old port of Cassis. You can choose from visiting 3, 5, 8 or 9 Calanques. We chose the 5 Calanques tour option which lasted 1 hour and 20 minutes. I don’t think you’ll get a better experience from visiting more Calanques than these, and the kids will probably get restless if they spend any longer on the boat. All tours include stops at the three famous Calanques of Port-Miou, Port-Pin, and En-Vau. Longer tours extend further into the Calanques National Park. Prices range from €21 to €33 per person, with durations ranging from 1 hour to over 2 hours.

Tickets can be purchased directly from the harbour kiosk without the need for advance booking. The timetable varies monthly, with more daily departures during the summer. There are outdoor seats available on the boat for the best views but there is no shade so bring a hat and sunscreen.

Prices for boat tours as of April 2024:

  • Circuit 3 Calanques (1hr long): €21 for adults, €12.50 for children (aged 5-11), €1 for those 4 and under
  • Circuit 5 Calanques (1hr 20mins long): €25 for adults, €18 for children (aged 5-11), €1 for those 4 and under
  • Circuit 8 Calanques (1hr 50 mins long): €29 for adults, €22 for children (aged 5-11), €1 for those 4 and under
  • Circuit 9 Calanques (2hrs 20 mins long): €33 for adults, €23 for children (aged 5-11), €1 for those 4 and under

6. Hire a kayak or go paddleboarding

There are also kayaks available for rent from Lo’Kayak in Cassis if your kids are good swimmers and are over a minimum age of about six. It seemed like a popular option as we saw quite a few paddle past us while we relaxed on the beach. Prices start at €40 for the hire of a two-seater kayak for two hours. You can also go for a guided kayaking tour, or even a paddleboarding tour, taking you to the three popular calanques of Port-Miou, Port-Pin and En-Vau.

7. Accrobranche at Cassis Forest

My daughter loves “accrobranche”, a tree-top experience that lets children climb from one tree to another until the end of a course without setting foot on the ground. It’s very popular in France and Cassis is no exception. The Cassis Forest Adventure Park was a really fun way to spend a few hours outside in nature. There are courses with different degrees of difficulty and the “baby course” starts from as young as 2 years old. Which course your child can follow depends on their height, rather than their age. In terms of duration, aim to spend between 2 to 3 hours at Cassis Forest. The park is outside the town centre but you can easily hop on a bus to get there in 15 minutes.

Address: CassisForest, Parc Régis Vidal, 13260 Cassis

Opening hours: Every day from 10 am to 7 pm. Open from the start of the February school holidays until the end of November.

Prices: The prices range from €7 per person for the 2-hour baby course, to €22 per person for the longest course available.  


How to get to Cassis

Cassis is located near Marseille, the second largest city in France after Paris. Marseille has an international airport, 50km away. Alternatively, you can get to Cassis by taking a train from the Marseille St-Charles train station to Cassis. The train journey is only 20 minutes long and trains depart frequently throughout the day. From the Cassis train station, take the bus, or a taxi and walk to your final destination.

The town is very small and it’s easy to walk everywhere. You don’t generally need a car here unless you plan to travel to other destinations along the French Riviera. If that’s the case, hiring a car is a good idea.

If you’re short on time, consider booking an organized day trip from Marseille or Aix-en-Provence.

Where to stay in Cassis

Here are some options for where to stay in Cassis for different budgets.

  • Hotel Les Roches Blanches for a luxury 5-star retreat on the seafront with infinity pools and a Sisley spa
  • HPC Suites for an elegant self-catering apartment near the Old Port with a shared pool
  • Hôtel Eden for an affordable stay in a charming 3-star hotel with a pool, which has both hotel rooms and self-catering apartments to book

I hope this Cassis guide has been helpful. If you’ve been to Cassis, hearing your best tips in the comments would be awesome. If you plan to travel to Cassis and have questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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