Sunday, December 4, 2011

Calanques and Restaurant Bonaparte, Cassis

Friday morning July 15 was our wedding anniversary -- a perfect day to be in Provence. Shirley and I, along with niece Leslie who was visiting from Florida, were in our car and headed to Cassis. We had decided that it would be wonderful to spend our anniversary in Cassis, eat lunch and go out on a boat to see the calanques.

Cassis is a very picturesque town on a steep hillside with vineyards and pastel-colored houses which tumble down to the tiny seaside port lined with more pastel-colored houses and shops about 1 and 1/2 hour drive from our house in Sablet.

We have been to Cassis many times but had never taken a boat ride out to the Massif des Calangues which stretch for nearly 20 kms between Cassis and Marseille. Nature lovers have been attracted to the Massif des Calanque's solid limestone, whiteness and weather-worn peaks for a long time.

But the unique charm and beauty of the Massif des Calanques stem from the deep walled, narrow inlets --the famous calanques, chiseled out along the coastline creating a beautiful trilogy of sea, sky and rocks.

Boat tours operate from the Cassis port, the tourism office there sells tickets for trips that take you to 3, 7 or 13 calangues. We opted for the 45-minute boat tour of 3 calanques.

The following are pictures of Cassis from the Bois D'Amour II --our boat for the trip, and tour along the coast out to the calanques and back. Leslie and me soak up the sunshine while we wait on the boat for departure to the calanques.

A seagull enjoys a swim in the still water of the Cassis port.

A boat returning from a tour of the calanques.

We are underway!

A shot back to Cassis and a beach full of sunbathers.

The coast line with the blue sky backdrop.

More coastline with the magnificent blue sky backdrop.

A few of the calanques are accessible on foot and rocks along the way provide the perfect spot for sunbathing.

Limestone rock formations.

The calanque de Port-Miou, the calanque closest to Cassis.

As I said earlier, you can access a few of the calanques on footpaths along the sea.

More coastline with the white limestone rock formations with the backdrop of the magnificent blue sky.

Flat limestone walls.

The large calanque of Port-Pin with its sandy beach surrounded by pine trees.

The tree appears to grow right out of the limestone rock formation.

The entrance to the calanque d'En-Vau.

The pretty calanque d'En-Vau, the best known of the calanques with its white cliffs, emerald water and stony beach.

Headed back to Cassis.

The western beach of Cassis.

Meanwhile back in Cassis, the sandy Plage de la Grande Mer, on the seaside of the breakwater.

We arrived in Cassis late-morning and after wandering through the Friday morning Marché Provençal and in and out of shops decided that we would have lunch before we went on our boat excursion. I have complained in several previous posts that we have not found a really good restaurant alongside the port.

And several times, Sara over at Sara in Le Petit Village, one of my favorite blogs, has suggested we try Le Bonaparte Restaurant. The restaurant is located on a side street several blocks off the port. There is a small dining room and seating on the street.

Shirley and Leslie smile for yet another picture.

We chose a bottle of the 2009 Clos Sainte Magdeleine made of a blend of Marsanne, Ugni, Clairette and Bourboulenc. We have visited this domaine and I can't imagine a more beautiful wine estate in Cassis.

The Le Bonaparte Restaurant is owned by the chef Jean-Marie who has been in business 23 years. I asked about the grilled fish of the day on the menu and a few minutes later chef Jean-Marie came to our table with a hotel pan with whole large (meant to be shared by two people) and smaller sized Loup de Mer and Daurade.

Our entrée -- starters, included Moules Marinières -- mussels steamed in white wine and

Moules Gratinées -- a saucy mussel gratin and

an off the menu salad made for Shirley with greens and tomatoes.

Our plats -- main courses included the whole grilled Daurade I chose from chef Jean-Marie; it was served and filleted table side with mashed potatoes.

Other main courses included grilled salmon served over pasta with a taragon cream sauce and

pan roasted white fish from the cod family served over pasta with a red cream sauce.

Our dessert choices included a chocolate brownie with a sabayon sauce and

apple tart with vanilla ice cream and

a delicious chocolate mousse.

To finish our meal, chef Jean-Marie sent out two glasses of crème de cassis for the ladies and a glass of cognac for me. A very nice touch and most pleasant way to end our wonderful meal at Le Bonaparte

Thank you Sara for your recommendation. We will return many times I am sure to this restaurant and recommend it to anyone willing to fore go a view for great food. I would make that choice any day based upon our previous experiences at port side restaurants.

If you are not familiar with Sara's blog, I would encourage you to go check out her entertaining blog, she is a most interesting writer, at Sara in Le Petit Village.

Bonne journée mes amis et à très bientôt.


  1. happy anniversary! how many years? I like Cassis,have been there many times with friends and relatives

  2. I'm so happy that you went to Restaurant Bonaparte! Isn't it wonderful? The fish is so fresh and Jean-Marie is a gem.
    It's early Monday morning (blah) and your post brought a smile to my face! :-)

  3. I enjoyed the tour and the lunch! Happy Anniversary, and thanks for sharing the joy with us.

  4. I wish I would have known that you were in Cassis that day. My husband and I go there all the time since it is a short 10 minute car ride from my office. I just love it there! I have never done the boat ride, but plan to next summer. I have only hiked around the calanques. Your pictures are gorgeous and bring out the wonderfulness this place truly has to offer.

  5. I have heard such nice things about Cassis as village...definitely need to check it out. Whenever I visit your blog I am filled with wanderlust :)

  6. Thank you for your lovely, colorful photos on a gray, dreary day in Paris in winter! It looks so beautiful and warm!

  7. Megan - Thanks -- 38 years! Cassis was the perfect choice for where to spend the day.

    Sara - Thanks for the recommendation. We loved the restaurant and guess what --- we have already been back.

    Rosaria - Thanks, glad you enjoyed the post!

    Ashley - Next time we are in Sablet and thinking about going to Cassis, I will let you know; maybe we can meet up there.

    Labergerebasque - Cassis is a charming village, well worthwhile to visit. I am very happy you enjoy my posts.

    Camille - I am happy I could brighten up your day. Have a good weekend.

  8. Ohh, what wonderful photos & what a gorgeous day in Cassis - look at that weather, so beautiful! Lovely post..and I love your sentence about Cassis "creating a beautiful trilogy of sea, sky and rocks" - so true, one of my favorite spots in France!

  9. Tuula - Thanks for your sweet feedback. We love Cassis and I guess it comes through on the blog.

  10. Wahh !
    These are very beautiful photos.
    Thanks for sharing a beautiful post.