Winter on the French Mediterranean Coast
During the XIX and the beginning of the XX century, tourists used to came to Provence during winter. The weather is usually good even during this time of the year in the South of France, and visitors (mostly the European aristocracy) came here to escape the cold rainy weather of Northen Europe and enjoy some thalassotherapy. Indeed, summer was way to hot for them to stay there! At the time sun tan was still a symbol of the working class. It is hard to imagine, but back in those days, you wouldn’t have found a single tourist in Provence during summer.
Nowayads traveling in rural France can be a challenge in winter when lots of hotels close so the owners can have a break or do fix-ups. So, it’s not always just a question of where to go, but what is open. For sure, lots of big towns and cities have plenty of lodging available but in the smaller more charming settings – even in hot spots like Gordes in Provence – have hotel closures in fall and winter months.
Well, one little spot that is relatively well known and where you will be able to find an accommodation even during winter time, is the town of Cassis, located on the Mediterranean between Marseille and La Ciotat. It has its own charming little port that is surrounded by cafes, restaurants, and shops. They do even have a little Christmas market.
What to do once there?
What can you do there in winter? Hiking is always possible, a number of grand randonée paths are accessible and follow a little the famous ‘Calanques‘ toward Marseille. Cycling and mountain biking are also possible.
You will love this town in the winter and fall period, especially around Christmas time. The Christmas atmosphere in Provence is unique! There are so many local traditions you will enjoy, like the santons (small clay figues) and the treize desserts (13 desserts served for Christmas in Provence).
Where to stay?
numerous options; but just overlooking the beach and away from the bustle of the port is the Mahoganey Hotel and just below that is the Jardin d’Emile. Our clients have mostly preferred the Mahoganey, but in winter season, the Emile can be quiet with fewer guests. The hallways are noisy at the Emile. Others include Les Roches Blanches, Jardins de Cassis. A decent 2 star in the center near the port is the Cassitel.
If you want to go, you can best get there by car rental, but also, trains from Marseille are frequent. Parking in Cassis is a moderate challenge, but not too bad in fall/winter, however in summer ‘c’est l’enfer’!