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Cassis, or nearby, before the Luberon -- recommendations, please?

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Inspired by Kurtis' great Luberon thread (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/781261), and catfur's in the general area as well (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/793397), we are planning two weeks in the heart of the Luberon in April-May 2014.

But we'd like to start out with a couple nights down by the coast -- and preferably right on the coast. Ideally at a family-run hotel/auberge/restaurant, where we can dine on premises at least one night.

We are thinking of Cassis (want to see les calanques) -- but will the town be too much like Collioure (which we found nice but rather a bit too perfect/crowded/touristy?). If we go to Cassis, we are looking at Nino -- seems to fit the bill, and I saw a good rec on this thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/853040. But I have some reservations based on this: http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant.... Any recent experience from members of this forum here?

How about other coast location alternatives -- in the nearby Var: les Leques? Bandol? Sanary? les Sablettes? Or a bit inland: le Castellet? la Cadriere d’Azur?

Thanks -- Jake

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  1. We are just back from a night at the Hôtel du Castellet. We bought the Séjour Gastronomique, which includes the room, hotel facilities, the tasting menu with wine pairings and breakfast. It looks expensive, but is worth it. The meal was superb. (The hotel was calm as there was no event at the racetrack next door; I would avoid it if there is unless you are a fan.)

    1. A wonderful restaurant a bit south of Cassis, in La Ciotat but on the little coast route towards St Cyr : Roche Belle. No sea view but tucked back in a verdant little nook,, olive trees, great outdoor space, excellent cuisine, quality ingredients.

      1. I recently moved to Marseille, so I do not have any recommendations for you, but I'm interested to see the responses. Have a great trip!

        1. Cassis is beautiful. Yes, it is somewhat reminiscent of Collioure. In April-May, you should be ahead of the summer crowds. We have stayed at Nino, and I recommend it. The location is perfect. The rooms are unusual but great. The service is extremely casual. Don't go there if you want to be pampered. Cassis isn't a great food town. The two best are Nino itself (mid-priced) and Villa Madie (pricey; located up on the bluff with a great view). On a nice day, you would be happy at any of the joints along the harbor, so long as you keep it simple (grilled fish or bouillabaisse). Have fun!

          1. Just up the hill from Cassis is the Hostellerie Berard
            (http://hotel-berard.com/en/home
            )We have had several fine meals there

            2 Replies
            1. re: UPDoc

              I've not been here, but I've met the people who own it and they are lovely.

              1. re: UPDoc

                Hostellerie Berard does indeed look good. We may need to requisition a day or two from our Luberon schedule and divert to there!

                And – thanks to all for the other helpful recommendations so far. As usual, this is such a helpful forum. -- Jake