Iodized hiking in the calanques

The limestone cliffs and turquoise waters of the calanques stretch for eighteen kilometres from Marseille to Cassis, offering exceptional views of the Mediterranean coastline. One of the most picturesque listed sites, the Massif des Calanques is a paradise for hikers, rock-climbers and sailing enthusiasts. After a walk, it's hard to resist taking a dip in the crystal-clear waters. With their magnificent scenery, they attract almost a million visitors every year. Pebble beaches, turquoise coves, underwater caves, biodiversity, limestone cliffs and walks... all the ingredients for a successful trip to Marseille's calanques. It's a perfect blend of summer, iodine and garrigue. There are around twenty calanques to discover and rediscover, accompanied by the song of the cicadas. We tell you all about Marseille's calanques, with a focus on 5 magnificent calanques, not to be missed!

The En Vau cove in the Calanques National Park.

- © Gaspar Janos / Shutterstock
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What can you do in the Calanques National Park?

The calanques are a veritable playground for sports enthusiasts and lovers of the great outdoors. Most visitors go there for the famous diptych of hiking the limestone paths and swimming in the turquoise creeks. But Marseille's calanques are also famous for their climbing routes, which promise incredible panoramic views over the Mediterranean. The rocky waters, meanwhile, are world-renowned for their underwater flora and fauna, attracting divers by the thousands. At the surface, a trip in a boat, kayak or even a stand-up paddle offers unparalleled views of the National Park.

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Our favourite calanques and how to get there

The famous calanque of En-Vau

The Calanque d'En-Vau is often one of the first to come to mind when you think of Marseille's calanques. And for good reason, it's undoubtedly one of the most beautiful! Nestling between two cliffs, water in a thousand shades of blue laps the white sand of a small cove that looks almost like paradise. Many people want to take advantage of this idyllic setting, so the Calanque d'En-Vau is often crowded in summer, so make sure you visit in mid-season.

The Calanque d'En-Vau is one of Marseille's most beautiful creeks.

- © voyageur8 / Shutterstock

📍 How do I get there?

  • From Marseille, the easiest hike (1h30 walk) starts at the Carpiagne Gineste bus stop on the M08 line. Reach the Gardiole site by taking the green-marked path, then follow the red-marked path to the calanque. An alternative route leaves from the Luminy campus and takes around three hours to reach En-Vau.
  • From Cassis, start at Port Miou and follow the GR58-51 (red and white markings) and the green path to En-Vau. Allow 1h30 for the walk.

The Port-Miou cove, easily accessible

Not far from Cassis, the calanque of Port-Miou is one of a kind. The limestone cliffs plunge down towards a typical little port - Port Miou is a natural shelter for ships - in a picture that is as unusual as it is magnificent. In the heart of this verdant pine forest, freshwater springs end their course in turquoise water, earning it the nickname of the Provençal fjord. It is also the starting point for numerous hiking trails through the calanques.

The unusual calanque of Port-Miou, easily accessible by car.

- © Pavel Szabo / Shutterstock

📍 How do I get there?

  • This is the only calanque where you can come by car at any time of year, ideal for families. From Marseille, take the Col de la Gineste to Cassis, then park in the Presqu'île car park (€8 a day).
  • The calanque of Port-Miou can also be reached on foot from Cassis town centre in 30 minutes on the GR58-51.

The Port-Pin cove, shaded by conifers

The Calanque de Port-Pin is a small natural harbour that owes its name to the many Aleppo pines that grow there, some even surviving balanced on the rock! Wedged between two cliffs, it is officially Marseille's last calanque, with Port-Miou belonging to Cassis. Quite popular, you have to get up early to hope for a spot on the beach, which mixes sand and pebbles, and enjoy the crystal-clear waters in the shade of the pine trees in complete peace and quiet.

Sailing boats in the charming calanque of Port-Pin.

- © voyageur8 / Shutterstock

📍 How do I get there?

  • The Port Pin cove is easily accessible from Port-Miou. Allow 30 minutes' walk along the GR98-51 path marked out in red and white.

Angel's leap into the Sugiton cove

The Calanque de Sugiton is actually made up of two small coves lined with pebbles and sandwiched between cliffs lined with pine trees and aromatic plants. At its heart, a large rock emerges from the sea, nicknamed the Torpedo Boat because of its resemblance to a warship. At around twenty metres high, daring young Marseillais like to dive into the cool water from its summit. Many simply prefer to watch from the beach.

The unusual calanque of Port-Miou, easily accessible by car.

- © andre quinou / Shutterstock

📍 How do I get there?

  • A hiking trail links the Luminy campus to the Sugiton cove in around an hour. From the car park, take the wide blue-marked path up to the Col de Sugiton (don't hesitate to make a short diversions to the belvedere, which offers a great view of the Calanque de Morgiou), then follow the red-dotted path.

👉 Worth knowing

  • A visitor's permit is now required to access the calanque at Sugiton during the summer months. This decision was prompted by the fact that the calanque is overcrowded, polluted and at risk of erosion.

The Calanque de Sormiou, the largest cove

There are no small coves here - the Calanque de Sormiou is very wide. With its white sandy beach, turquoise waters and lifeguards on duty to supervise swimming, it's a very popular cove with families. There's also a restaurant serving seafood and around a hundred typical cabanons that are still inhabited in the summer months. Although a little less wild than its neighbours, the Calanque de Sormiou is superb and has nothing to envy them.

The superb and very popular Calanque de Sormiou.

- © NiarKrad / Shutterstock

📍 How do I get there?

  • The easiest path starts at Les Baumettes, at the terminus of bus 22. Just follow the red markings for 2 kilometres to reach the Sormiou cove in around 45 minutes. Another path leaves from La Cayolle and takes 1 hour to reach Sormiou.
  • In low season, the calanque is directly accessible by car.

Our favourite hotel near the calanques

Hôtel Les Volets Rouges Cassis
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Hôtel Les Volets Rouges

Hotel Les Volets Rouges is located in the heart of the Calanques National Park, in a green setting at the foot of the paths leading to the calanques.
8.5 Very good
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A few tips for your visit

  • Remember to take plenty of water, sun cream, a headlamp and a snack when you go hiking in the Calanques National Park.
  • It is forbidden to smoke or light fires in the calanques due to the risk of fire.
  • Please do not throw garbage, pick flowers or do anything else that could damage the site.
by Jude JONES
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