Our 5 favourite spots on the Côte Bleue: paradise between Marseille and Martigues

When you think of Marseille's calanques, you usually think of the Parc national des Calanques between Marseille and Cassis. But few visitors are familiar with the other side of Marseille's coastline. From the Estaque district to Martigues, there is a succession of creeks, inlets, beaches and small ports nestling between the cliffs: the Côte Bleue. Nestling behind pine forests between garrigue-covered cliffs, the calanques of the Côte Bleue stretch for 32 kilometres between the communes of Le Rove and Ensuès-la-Redonne. Figuerolles, La Vesse, Niolon, Jonquier, Méjean, Figuière, la Redonne... There are fifteen or so calanques on the Côte Bleue: little bits of peaceful paradise set against the frenetic backdrop of the city of Marseille. People come here to relax away from the hordes of tourists, to bathe in the turquoise waters or stroll along the quays of the little ports with their colourful boats. Here are our 5 favourite spots on the Côte Bleue!

View of the Mediterranean Sea and Everine Island from the coastal path between Niolon and Méjean.

- © JeanLucIchard / Shutterstock
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1. Niolon cove

Niolon cove on the Côte Bleue.

- © Gerhard Roethlinger / Shutterstock

Only a few locals are lucky enough to live in this authentic little port, tucked away in a cove on the Côte Bleue. And that's what makes it so charming. An unspoilt spot, with a few fishing huts and houses on the water's edge.

The view over Marseille harbour and the Frioul islands is magnificent. It's also a great spot for scuba divers, who can discover old wrecks off the coast. Niolon is the starting point for a long three-hour hike along the Douaniers trail to the La Redonne cove.

⭐ Where to stay near the Niolon calanque?

Charming cottage in the Niolon cove Le Rove
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Charming cottage in the Niolon cove

This cottage facing the port of Niolon is fully equipped to accommodate 4 people.
9.2 Fabulous
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2. The Méjean cove

Divided into two parts, the petit and grand Méjean, the Méjean cove is one of the most beautiful on the Côte Bleue. The ochre rocky landscapes that surround it are incredible.

Calanque de Méjean on the Côte Bleue.

- © JeanLucIchard / Shutterstock

You have to go down a fairly steep path to reach this unusual little port, where the boats almost seem to levitate on the translucent water, with the imposing viaduct in the background. The Figuières cove just next door offers a magical moment of swimming in transparent waters.

⭐ Where to stay near the calanque de Méjean?

Villa L'Attalaya - La Redonne La Redonne
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Villa L'Attalaya - La Redonne

This pretty house in the calanque de Méjean sleeps 4 comfortably.
9.5 Exceptional
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3. The Everine cove

Wild and craggy, this little cove with its clear waters is well worth the effort! After about an hour's walk from Niolon or Méjean along the Douaniers path, the turquoise waters of the Erevine cove finally reveal themselves, offering a breathtaking view of the island of Erevine opposite. The calanque is very photogenic: on its right, it is topped by a tower belonging to an old soda factory and in the background, you can see the Baume de Lume viaduct.

The Everine cove on the Côte Bleue.

- © JeanLucIchard / Shutterstock

4. Côte Bleue Marine Park

Created to safeguard the exceptional natural environment of the coastal seabed, the Côte Bleue Marine Park is open to all amateur and experienced divers wishing to discover the flora and fauna of the Mediterranean seabed.

The calanques are a paradise for divers and snorkelers.

- © Avim Wu / Shutterstock

A wide variety of species, many of them protected, live in the clear waters along the Côte Bleue: brown groupers, corbs, purple sea urchins, posidonia, conger eels and even lobsters populate the waters of the calanques. So grab your masks and snorkels for a dive among the multicoloured fish and coral, as well as the shipwrecks.

5. Carry-le-Rouet

Carry-le-Rouet on the Côte Bleue.

- © TeleMakro Fotografie / Shutterstock

This seaside resort, nicknamed the Pearl of the Côte Bleue, makes an excellent base from which to explore this small stretch of the Provencal coastline. From here, it's easy to explore the surrounding small ports and access the hiking trails that criss-cross the calanques. Carry-le-Rouet has several sandy beaches that are popular with families as they are much more accessible than the beaches and coves of the calanques.

⭐ Where to stay in Carry-le-Rouet?

3* Hotel La Tuiliere Carry-le-Rouet
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3* Hotel La Tuiliere

This 3-star hotel in Carry-le-Rouet offers comfortable rooms and a great swimming pool!
8.4 Very good
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How do I get to the calanques on the Côte Bleue?

They are less well known than the calanques between Marseille and Cassis, but no less attractive. On the contrary... The calanques of the Côte Bleue (named after the colour of the water) offer wonderful, more authentic landscapes and coves with crystal-clear waters. How do you get there and discover them? We'll tell you all about it!

View of the bay of Marseille from the Côte Bleue.

- © Gerhard Roethlinger / Shutterstock

⛵ By boat:

Boating is an excellent way to discover the calanques of the Côte Bleue. You can hire your own individual boat if you have a driving licence, or book a sea trip departing from Niolon, Carry-le-Rouet or Marseille. There are several routes to choose from.

⛵ Hire a boat to discover Marseille's Calanques Marseille

⛵ Hire a boat to discover Marseille's Calanques

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🚆 By train:

Embark on one of France's most beautiful railway lines, the Côte Bleue train. Between Marseille and Miramas, this TER train travels the 32 kilometres of creeks in a succession of viewpoints and breathtaking panoramas of Marseille and the Mediterranean Sea. The journey along the hillsides, dotted with vertiginous tunnels and viaducts, takes 1 hour 15 minutes from the Estaque district to the Couronne district in Martigues. In between, the Niolon and Ensuès-la-Redonne stations serve the main calanques.

🚗 By car:

To come and swim during the holidays in the calanques of the Côte Bleue, go hiking on the sentier des Douaniers, go scuba diving or paddle boarding, or have a drink in the port of Carry-le-Rouet, you'll need to head for the A55 motorway towards Martigues or the A7 towards Marignane, Côte Bleue / Ensuès la Redonne exit, Carry le Rouet, Sausset les Pins or La Couronne-Carro.

by Editorial Team
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