When I think back on my own study abroad experience (five years ago… how?!), I honestly remember very little about my classes. The two things I remember were 1) loving every second with my adorable French host family and 2) spending practically every weekend in a new country. When I was planning my trip to visit my brother Grayson in London, he was adamant that we spend the weekend somewhere he’d never been and wasn’t planning to visit with his friends in the next couple months. After probably a dozen Google hangouts researching planes, trains, and automobiles, we finally landed on a weekend trip to Aix-en-Provence via a flight from London to Marseille.

Fast forward to last Friday and I had left my oyster card in his apartment, was stuck in traffic in an Uber, and made us miss our flight to Marseille. But who lets a missed fight stop them from a weekend in the south of France? Not us. We quickly booked a new flight to Nice and then rented a car so we could drive from Nice to Aix-en-Provence later that night. And you know what? That road trip wound up being one of my favorite parts of the whole week we spent together. Between a hilarious call to a French operator because our American credit cards wouldn’t work in the toll machine (she started laughing too… I am beyond grateful that 1) my brother and I speak French and 2) that he filmed the entire interaction) to blasting red dirt country along the Mediterranean coastline (I’m all about a high/low mix) we honestly had the time of our lives. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!

ANYWAY. The next day we woke up early, saw the sun shining, and decided to road trip it again from our gorgeous hotel in Aix-en-Provence to a little town on the coast called Cassis… another spontaneous decision that I am so glad we made. All we could say was “wow” over and over again. We dipped our toes in the Mediterranean (freezing but awesome nonetheless), strolled through the port, and had a leisurely lunch in the sunshine (cannot tell you how welcome this was after winter in New York). By then we’d both fallen completely in love with the place and decided we couldn’t head back to our hotel until we’d done a boat tour to see the Calanques de Cassis, a nearby series of stunning limestone cliffs that carve out private beaches and hiking trails all along the coast. We both took maybe three hundred photos from the boat but I swear they just don’t do the colors of the water justice — truly unlike anything I’d ever seen. If you have the chance to visit Cassis, I could not recommend it more highly!

cassis france port

cassis france beach

where to eat in cassis france

cassis france port

cassis france homes

cassis france port

cassis france

cassis france sailboat boat tour

calanques de cassis boat tour

calanques de cassis boat tour

calanques de cassis france boat tour

calanques de cassis view france

One more note about our time in Aix-en-Provence and Cassis… As someone who majored in French in college and graduated as close to fluent as I’ll ever be, I relish literally any opportunity to speak French with a native speaker, whether it’s a cab driver in New York or a waitress in Saint Martin. But it’s been my experience that larger cities like Paris aren’t always receptive to hearing Americans fumble through conversations in French when most Parisians speak at least decent English. One of my favorite parts of visiting these two new towns in a different region was how much both of us actually got to speak French, whether because people were more open to hearing it or because on certain occasions (like with the toll machine operator) it was simply the only option. It’s definitely something I’m going to keep in mind for planning future trips because I truly believe French is the most exquisite language in the world… even when my little brother and I occasionally butcher it beyond recognition. 😉

31 thoughts on “DAY TRIP TO CASSIS, FRANCE

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  1. Just came across your site as I am trying to convince my husband we must see Cassis for the day when we are in Aix this summer. But first – ‘Ray Bucknell! My husband and I both graduated from Bucknell and loved every minute there. 🙂 As for our trip this summer- we will be traveling with our 3 kids (18, 15 and 11) to Barcelona- Aix-Antibes. We have 3 nights in Aix. I looked into tours from Aix to Cassis but they seem overpriced. I think we can easily rent a car in Aix and drive down, so long as w leave early enough to get parking in Casss. We are staying in a very centrally located flat in Aix with a parking garage. Was the drive to Cassis easy? Thanks! Laura

    1. Yes, the drive was a piece of cake! As long as you have your phone giving you directions (unless you speak French and can follow the street signs!) it’s totally doable. Have the best time and ‘ray Bucknell!!!

  2. Ahh, j’adore Aix-en-Provence! Quand j’y suis allée pour rendre visite à une amie, nous voulions louer des kayaks pour faire du kayak à Cassis, mais comme nous n’avions pas de voiture c’était trop difficile d’y aller. Et je suis tout-à-fait d’accord avec toi à propos de parler français…je ne sais pas ce que je ferai dès que je serai retournée aux États-Unis en mai! La prochaine fois que tu y vas, fais une randonnée dans les calanques (j’en ai fait une à Luminy, à côté de Marseille), comme c’est vraiment une expérience inoubliable.

    And yep, totally American here, but since you said you love speaking French (who doesn’t?), thought you’d enjoy a comment en français. 😉

    Chloe | Wanderlust in the Midwest

  3. hey mackenzie!

    i’ve been reading your blog for the past two years now & i’m absolutely in love with ll your posts! you’ve inspired at least half of my wardrobe 😉

    anyways, i’m visiting paris end of May with my boyfriend – would LOVE to know your ‘off the beaten path’ cafe, restaurant, shop with gorgeous clothes!

    any/all recommendations welcomed!! hope to hear from you & congrats on the big move to Dallas! NYC will miss you!


    1. Hi Steph —

      I am actually headed to Paris next week so I will do a post asking for recommendations tomorrow. You should definitely tune in — my readers always have the most incredible spots to share! 🙂

  4. Absolutely stunning photos! This sounds like so much fun. I can definitely see you and Gray (looking good!) road tripping around and having a blast.

  5. Bonjour! je suis française 🙂 J’ai adoré votre récit sur le séjour que vous avez fait à Cassis. Les photos sont magnifiques! Et félicitations à vous et à votre frère; bravo de maitriser aussi bien la langue française et d’ avoir fait ce choix linguistique. La Cote d’Azur est une région superbe, souvent magique, comme toutes les régions méditerranéennes. J’espère que vous y retournerez bientôt 🙂

  6. Isn’t that area of France wonderful?! I studied abroad for a year in Aix-en-Provence, and did many, many weekend trips to Cassis.

  7. This looks like such a fun day! Some of the best travel days happen when things don’t quite go as planned 🙂 looks like such fun bonding with you and your brother! Definitely sounds like a trip neither of you will ever forget!

  8. When I was in France years ago, I tried speaking French (note: I don’t speak much French). I was buying a pair of shoes, and I know what I said was correct, and still the shop girls pretended not to know what I was saying. It was really frustrating and rude. This was in Colmar on the German border, which a little more rural, I don’t know if that has anything to do with it… maybe they’re not as used to tourists? Definitely won’t be going back to that area again.

    1. I forgot to add though, I’ve always wondered if people really do appreciate when Americans (or whomever) try to speak their native language, like you mentioned – speaking French to French people. I feel like there’s a 50/50 response. I would appreciate the effort but I feel like some people just would rather you not bother (especially if they are busy). Most of the time I feel like people have been receptive to me trying.

  9. Such gorgeous photos! I’m considering this added to my dream travel list.

    Something I was just thinking about – I need to get better about taking photos when I travel. You have some really great shots here.

  10. I’ve been reading your blog for years and rarely stop by to comment. This most had me smiling the entire time and I needed to respond. It’s been 6 years (!!) since I studied abroad in Paris. Simply, the best time of my life. I could not agree more with your experiences in Paris. My French was barely used in there unless I was grocery shopping, taking day trips to Bretagne, or dealing with the utility company for my apartment haha. I still relish any opportunity to speak French. I swear I go to La Duree on the UES half to just speak French and half for les macarons en vanille bien sur! Thanks for sharing your beautiful pictures and reminding me that its about high time I get myself back to France! Bisous Bonnie @

  11. Mackenzie,
    I love your blog! I’ve been to your boutique before and follow you on instagram and love your style. I am only just discovering your blog! You seem to bring sunshine to every aspect of life!! Thanks for sharing! Can’t wait to read more from you!!