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Cassis (Municipality, Bouches-du-Rhône, France)

Last modified: 2003-12-27 by
Keywords: bouches-du-rhone | cassis | port-miou | cross (blue) | yacht club |
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[Flag of Cassis]by Pascal Vagnat


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Presentation of the municipality

Cassis (which should be pronounced 'Cassi"') is a city of 7,969 inhabitants (Cassidains), located on the Mediterranean Sea, at the end of a bay flanked by the limestone cliffs of the Gardiole on the West and Cape Canaille on the East.

The Romans founded in the bay a small fishing port called Portus Carsicis. In the Middle Ages, the city was under permanent threat by pirates, and the Counts of Les Baux built a fort on the hill dominating the village. A document dated 1323 mentions Castrum Cassitis, a castrum being in Latin a fortified place.
On 5 October 1376, the fleet which brought back the Pope from Avignon to Rome took shelter from the storm in the small bay of Port-Miou, where the chapel Notre-Dame de Bon-Secours (Our-Lady of Good-Assistance) was built to commemorate the event.
In 1573, the first quarry of 'Cassis stone' was opened. Stones from Cassis were used to build parts of the Canal of Suez and some of the gates of the Campo Santo in Genoa. In the beginning of the century, the scenic landscapes of Cassis attracted several artists. Frédéric Mistral (1830-1914), the Provençal writer founder of the Félibrige movement and Nobel Prize in 1904, described Cassis in his epic poem Calendau (1867, in French, Calendal). A few years later, the painters André Derain (1880-1954), Maurice de Vlaeminck (1876-1956), Henri Matisse (1869-1954) and Raoul Dufy (1877-1953), among the founders of modern painting, contributed to popularize Cassis.

There is still a fishing port in Cassis, famous for the urchins which must be eaten with the local white wine.

The calanques are rocky inlets which deeply gash high limestone cliffs. The calanque area spreads between Marseilles and Cassis, and there is of course an old but friendly rivalry between the two cities for revendicating the name and reputation of the calanques. The area is one of the most scenic landscape of the French Mediterranean coast and has been hopefully preserved from urbanization and industrialization until now. It is a paradise for hicking, climbing, sailing, fishing and scuba diving. The area is unfortunately endangered every summer by kooks who find it intresting to set up fire there.

In 1991, the scuba diver Henri Cosquer, from Cassis, discovered an underwater cave decorated with Neolithic paintings. The access of the cave is extremely difficult and dangerous, and Cosquer was accusated of forgery. Experts confirmed the authenticity of the paintings and the cave was named Cosquer Cave. Its opening has been closed to avoid looting and diving accidents.

Cassis is the arrival of one of the most famous pedestrian races in France, run in late October-early November between the Stade Vélodrome in Marseilles and the fishing port of Cassis (21.5 km).

Ivan Sache, 28 August 2002


Description of the flag

The flag of Cassis is white with the municipal coat of arms in the middle. VILLE DE CASSIS (Town of Cassis) is written in black letters below the shield.

Ivan Sache, 28 August 2002


Club Nautique de Port-Miou

[CN Port-Miou]by Ivan Sache

Port-Miou is a small port located in the eponymous calanque. The name of Port Miou is derived from the Latin name of the place, Portus Majus (Large Port), which appears on several medieval maps of Provence.

The Club Nautique de Port-Miou, although located in Cassis, has a burgee clearly influenced by the traditional flag of Marseilles , white with a blue cross and the letters C, N, P, M in red placed in the four quarters, respectively.

Source: CNPM website

Ivan Sache, 17 March 2003

The calanques are administratively part of the municipality of Marseilles. The border between the two municipal areas is precisely at the Port Miou calanque, the last one when you navigate from Marseilles to Cassis. There has been a debate about giving them National Park status as they are a refuge for some rare botanical and animal species such as Bonelli eagles.

The influence from Marseilles on the CNPM burgee is normal, most people owning boats in the small harbour of Cassis live or at least work in Marseilles and consider themselves as Marseillais.

Philippe Bondurand, 17 May 2001

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