Provence

Le Calanques

With its crystal-clear water, white sandy coves and limestone cliffs, the Calanques National Park offers the most beautiful beaches in Provence.
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A turquoise sea as far as the eye can see, white sand and coves lined by limestone massifs. This is the picture-postcard scenery enshrined within the Calanques National Park.

This little jewel of nature, immersed in the Mediterranean, is made up of a terrestrial heart of 8,500 hectares and a marine heart of 43,500 hectares: it is a dream place for all nature and sea lovers.

Along the Calanques massif, more than 25 stunning coves await you, nestled between Marseilles and Cassis. This exceptional landscape is made up of pebble and fine sand beaches, small coves and turquoise waters, a postcard-perfect diamond of biodiversity.

Here, you can sunbathe, swim in its crystal-clear waters, explore the seabed, walk along nature trails or indulge in water activities such as kayaking.

Calanques National Park

Created on 18 April 2012, the Calanques National Park is the tenth national park in France and the first in Europe to be both terrestrial and marine at the same time. In the heart of coastal Provence, the park stretches across the municipalities of Marseille, Cassis and La Ciotat. It is known worldwide for its sublime landscapes, but also for its remarkable biodiversity and natural wealth.

The immediate proximity of wild natural spaces to France’s second largest city is the striking characteristic of this area.

Calanque d'En-vau

Sheltered by a small pebble beach nestled between two cliffs, Calanque d’En-vau is a true haven of peace. Nicknamed La Perle des Calanques, it attracts many tourists in summer because of its turquoise and indigo hues that mingle with the height of the cliffs.

It is undoubtedly the most represented and most photographed: it is the park’s emblem. Its pure lines, the contrast of its white-grey cliffs falling into purple and turquoise waters are spectacular. There is no cabanon or human construction here: it is wild and unspoilt nature , animated only by its visitors.

This bay within the inlet develops into a 2.5 km long valley, which becomes steeper and steeper as you approach the sea, until it becomes a veritable canyon between two steep walls. It is the result of slow and very ancient erosion, due to the runoff of rainwater and a stream.

Its disconcerting beauty is its just reward after reaching it on foot: remember that there is no shade here when the sun is at its peak. From spring to autumn, it is advisable to protect yourself from the sun with a hat, sunglasses and sun cream, and to take plenty of water with you. In summer it is very busy and may prove crowded.

Calanque de Sormiou

2Calanque de Sormiou, France

Generally a favourite with tourists, the Calanque de Sormiou, besides being the largest calanque in Marseille, holds a heavenly setting from which to admire the splendour of the city.

Bordered by mountains and vast natural spaces, this bay encloses a beach where you can swim in turquoise waters. It takes about an hour on foot from the Baumettes car park or from La Cayolle along a path accessible to everyone. A postcard-perfect spot awaits you, where the white limestone of the massif contrasts with the green of the pines and the turquoise of its crystal-clear sea.

Sormiou is home to some small houses built at the beginning of the 20th century to store fishing boats: the cabanons. Over time, they have become popular holiday cottages sought after by the people of Marseilles, despite their spartan interiors without electricity.

Calanque de Morgiou

3Calanque de Morgiou, France

This is a true paradise on earth: the Calanque de Morgiou is a magnificent inlet that flows into the Mediterranean. Its intimate atmosphere is created by its very deep bay, perfect for scuba diving.

Nearby, you can visit the unmissable Blue Grotto. Its history is also particular. In fact, during the arrival of King Louis XIII, for whom a fishing trip had been organised, stairs were dug into the stone to facilitate his landing.

The inlet is very popular with hikers: the GR98-51 crosses the calanque and allows you to reach the one at Sugiton to the east in about 45 minutes. This fascinating path has weather-worn and often slippery rocks: it therefore requires hiking shoes and adequate preparation.

An easy walk leads to Anse de la Triperie, whose vertical walls are truly impressive. A magnificent panorama awaits you at the tip of the promontory: you will admire the succession of inlets, called the Devenson, and in the distance the red cliffs of Cap Canaille in Cassis. This is the realm of herring gulls and cliff crows, which are less disturbed here by hikers.

Calanque de Sugiton

4Calanque de Sugiton, France

Very close to the Calanque de Morgiou is the Calanque de Sugiton, home to two small pebble beaches.

Surmounted by high cliffs that make it unique, this calanque offers quick access to the Tour d’Orient, the belvedere of Sugiton, perched at an altitude of 250 metres. From up there, you can admire a panoramic view that will not leave you indifferent.

The best way to discover this calanque is on foot, along a path that is easily accessible to all.

Calanque de Port-Pin

5Calanque de Port Pin, Vaufrèges, 13260 Marseille, France (Website)

Unique in its kind, the Calanque de Port-Pin is suitable for families with small children, thanks to its easy access. In fact, you can reach this marvellous place in just half an hour: a sand and pebble beach awaits you, where rocky relief dotted with trees joins the Mediterranean Sea.

This wonderful white sandy beach holds crystal-clear water, reflecting the blue of the sky and the green of the forest, surrounded by dazzling white rock and shaded by pine trees. Narrow and deep, it winds through the rock and its waters are cool. Port-Pin is one of the few tree-lined creeks in the massif and thanks to the presence of shade, it is very popular in summer.

The path to get there follows the GR98-51, which is the easiest: it is a red and white path that also leads to the Calanque d’En Vau.

Taking its name from the numerous Aleppo pines that surround it, it attracts holidaymakers eager to enjoy a day’s bathing in the creeks without having to tackle a long walk to get there. With its clear, turquoise waters, you will want to spend the whole day swimming.

Calanque de Callelongue

6Calanque de Callelongue, France

The first calanque of the Marseilleveyre massif in the direction of Cassis, the Calanque de Callelongue is located in the district of Goudes, at the south-eastern end of Marseille’s 8th arrondissement.

Its main characteristic is its fishing village atmosphere with its huts and small harbour: a true oasis of peace at the end of the world, it offers a thirst-quenching stop for walkers, thanks to its fountain and bar-restaurant where you can enjoy delicious Marseilles dishes.

This is one of the rare inlets that does not have a beach: to bathe, you will have to descend straight from the rocks.

Calanque de Marseilleveyre

7Calanque de Marseilleveyre, France

Immediately after the Calanque de Callelongue is the Calanque de Marseilleveyre, with a sandy beach with small pebbles, surrounded by several huts and a restaurant.

It offers a breathtaking view of the Riou archipelago, a must for lovers of wild landscapes. Visitable in all seasons, it remains an ideal place for swimming with family or friends.

It can be reached from the port of Callelongue by a 45-minute walk along the GR 98 signposted path : you will arrive in a corner of paradise.

Calanque de la Mounine

8Calanque de la Mounine, France

Without the presence of a beach, the Calanque de la Mounine remains a favourite spot for snorkelling and diving, thanks to its crystal-clear waters that harbour a rich aquatic fauna.

Here you can enjoy peace and absolute seclusion along the narrow, straight indentation carved into the white limestone rock.

Calanque de Figuerolles

95071 Av. Figuerolles, 13600 La Ciotat, France (Website)

Nestled in a landscape that is both rocky and green, the fig garden , as it is called, is an idyllic place immortalised many times by famous filmmakers and painters.

Descend the 87 steps of the staircase that separates it from the car park and discover its sublime pebble beach: a breathtaking scenery will open up before you, where the ochre-coloured cliffs plunge beautifully into the turquoise waters to the delight of your eyes.

Ideal with friends or family, it is also a great diving spot. Put on your fins, masks and snorkels and set off to discover the richness of its depths.

In summer, the Calanque de Figuerolles is unfortunately a victim of its own success: it is literally stormed by tourists.

Calanque de Saint-Estève

10Calanque de Saint-Estève, France

Located on theisland of Ratonneau, the Calanque de Saint-Estève is home to a natural beach and shallow waters rich in marine biodiversity. With its turquoise and fishy waters, it is one of the most popular in the area. In summer, a snack-restaurant with a shaded terrace and toilets is available to holidaymakers.

Once you have landed on the island, to get there you have to head to the Caroline Hospital, where several signs will show you the way. After a relatively easy 20-minute walk, you will reach the Calanque de Saint-Estève.

From July to September, the Conservatoire du Littoral organises a diving course in the sea. Armed only with a mask and snorkel, this original underwater path, accessible to beginners and experts alike, allows you to discover the fauna and flora from the sea.

Calanque Saint-Pierre

11Calanque Saint-Pierre, France

Accessible only by boat, the Calanque Saint-Pierre boasts a small pebble beach, located right next to the jetty and the Chez Louisette restaurant.

It is located at the beginning of a 2-kilometre-long signposted path , which allows you to walk around the island to discover the various ruins with several military buildings, including Fort Saint-Pierre, located at the highest point of the Green Island.

Calanque De Grand Méjean

12Chem. du Tire Cul, 13820 Ensuès-la-Redonne, France (Website)

The Calanque de Méjean, a true oasis of peace, is divided into two parts: Little Méjean and Big Méjean.

The former consists of a port and a small beach, bordered by rocks and pine trees. Grand Méjean is a very pretty bay, which can be reached on foot by following a small path at the end of the harbour.

Map

In the following map you can see the location of the main places of interest mentioned in this article

Hiking in the Calanques

Hiking is obviously one of the main activities in the Calanques National Park. Many trails are laid out in the four corners of the park, giving you a wide choice of activities. Whether you want to go on a long hike or just a short tour, you will find the right circuit for you in a sublime natural environment to admire the landscapes, fauna and flora.

It is necessary to be well prepared. Arm yourself with a map of the Calanques or download App Mes Calanques, good hiking shoes, sunglasses, a hat, at least 1.5 litres of water per person, a phone and a pharmacy kit.

Please note that the trails are passable at all levels, but the difference in altitude is still quite significant. You will therefore be more comfortable with a little training and, above all, appropriate clothing. Finally, for the more experienced walkers, we would like to remind you that you can cross the entire Calanques National Park from Marseilles to Cassis by taking the GR98-51 in three days.

We would like to remind you that it is everyone’s responsibility to practice activities in the creeks while respecting nature and the rules of the park, following the marked paths and taking care, above all, not to leave any rubbish behind. You will only be able to take home sublime photos: collecting any natural elements is forbidden and can be fined.

Where to stay near the Calanques

In the landlocked heart of the Calanques National Park, there are mainly B&Bs and seasonal rentals, some with the Esprit Parc label. There are also residences and hotels located nearby.

The undoubtedly most convenient solution is to sleep in Marseille and set off for the calanques by car or boat. In this way, you will be able to make day trips within a reasonable distance. Another strategic base is the small village of Cassis, which is located at the opposite end of the park, or continuing a little further on to La Ciotat.

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Opening dates and access rules

To preserve the fragile balance of the Calanques National Park, strict access rules are imposed according to the seasons and weather conditions.

In fact, the park is open from 1 October to 31 May except for exceptional closures. From 1 June to 30 September, access to the massif is regulated by decree due to the high fire risk. A colour code identifies the authorisations to enter the massif: green (no limitations), yellow (access allowed with some limitations), orange (access limited from 06.00 to 11.00), red (access prohibited).

Limits for cars

Only certain Calanques are accessible by car (and only at certain times of the year). You normally approach the area by public transport and then continue on foot. Please note that parking spaces are limited and you will find a high density of traffic, depending on the time of year.

Every year, the city of Marseille issues municipal decrees regulating traffic and parking on the access roads to the Sormiou, Morgiou and Callelongue creeks. The roads are normally closed to car traffic from 07.00 to 19.00: every weekend from April, every day from 1 June to 30 September and on public holidays from April to May.

Some access roads have additional regulations. For example, the Gardiole road and the Cap Croisette road are closed to motorised traffic all year round. Pedestrian access on these roads remains authorised under certain conditions.

To find out in real time about the viability of the roads leading to the creeks, we recommend downloading the Mes Calanques App, which will allow you to check at any time the conditions of pedestrian access to the massif, the fire-risk restrictions, and whether the access roads to the Calanques are open or closed via information updated daily.

How to get to the Calanques from Marseille

The Calanques National Park is a unique natural space between Marseille, Cassis and La Ciotat. Before setting off, find out very well about the weather conditions, possible closures and the equipment to have with you.

By boat

You can visit the creeks by boat from Marseille’s Vieux Port or Pointe Rouge.

Several companies offer organised excursions: all have a permit issued by the Calanques National Park. Small cruise ships, canoes and kayaks, speedboats or sailboats: you will find solutions for all tastes. In summer, depending on the formula chosen, these excursions include stops for swimming in the coves with calmer waters and a snack on board.

Access by sea is also very strictly regulated: if you decide to hire a boat to drive on your own, you must first find out all the information on access to the park by sea and always scrupulously check the weather forecast. The mistral and the swell can swell suddenly.

By bicycle

There are several operators who offer the possibility of exploring the Calanques by bicycle, either muscular or electric, along an itinerary of about 35 km accompanied by an expert guide.

By car

Below are directions for reaching each Calanque by car, whether your own or rented.

Calanque of Callelongue

You can get to the seashore by taking the Corniche Kennedy and continuing straight through the village of Les Goudes. Continuing along this road, you will arrive at the Calanque de Callelongue. Please note that the scarcity of parking spaces and the heavy traffic at weekends and in summer make the bus preferable.

Calanque de Sormiou

You will have to go to the Cayolle district, where you will find an unattended car park. The Calanque is accessible by car only out of season and under certain conditions.

Calanque of Morgiou

La Calanque is accessible by car only out of season and only under certain conditions. You will have to reach the Baumettes neighbourhood, immediately after the prison, and continue on foot for about 1 hour.

Calanque de Sugiton

The trail starts near the Luminy university campus, in the 9th arrondissement of Marseille, just after the Ecole Supérieure des Beaux-Arts et d’Architecture: the car park is opposite. From here, allow about 1 hour’s walk.

Route des Crêtes between Cassis and La Ciotat

From 1 June to 30 September, during the red days, the departmental road D141, known as the ridge road, is closed to car traffic. This also applies during extraordinary weather events.

By public transport

If you plan to reach the park by public transport, once you arrive at the terminus, you should plan to walk down to the Calanque you intend to visit. To do this, it is essential to wear hiking shoes, have a sufficient supply of water and, depending on the season, wear a hat and sunglasses.

Towards the calanque de Callelongue

From Place Castellane (metro line 1 or 2 or tram line 3), take bus No. 19 to the Madrague de Montredon terminus : the GR 98 trail leaves from here.

There is also a sea shuttle that connects Pointe-Rouge and Goudes directly.

Calanque de Sormiou

From the Prado roundabout (metro line 2 direction Sainte-Marguerite – stop Rond-point du Prado) take bus no. 23, stop La Cayolle: you will have to walk along the road to reach the Chemin de la Calanque.

You can also get there by bus No. 22 (e.g. to Calanque de Morgiou), bus stop Les Baumettes, then walk to the Parc des Baumettes, following the direction Calanque de Sormiou.

Calanque de Morgiou

From the Prado roundabout (metro line 2 in the direction of Sainte-Marguerite – stop Rond point du Prado) take bus No. 22 to the terminus Les Baumettes. Walk to the Parc des Baumettes and then follow the direction of Calanque de Morgiou.

Calanque de Sugiton

From Place Castellane (metro line 1 or 2 or tram line 3) or from the Prado roundabout (metro line 2 direction Sainte Marguerite, stop Rond-point du Prado: from here take bus B1 or 21 J to the Luminy PN stop of the Calanques.

How to get to the Calanques from Cassis and La Ciotat

Apart from Marseille, another excellent starting point for visiting the calanques is the delightful village of Cassis. Here, there is a shuttle that connects the town to the Calanque of Port-Miou, and leaves from the large Gorguettes car park, easily accessible from the D559. Please note that Port-Miou is also the starting point for excursions to the Calanques Port-Pin and En-Vau.

In La Ciotat, on the other hand, the car parks are located upstream. It is thus possible to access the inlets of Figuerolles and Mugel without entering the centre of La Ciotat, where traffic can be complicated, especially in summer.

Access to the bottom of the Callelongue, Sormiou and Morgiou creeks is regulated to protect the site from overcrowding and to facilitate the movement of emergency vehicles.

Where is located Le Calanques

The Calanques National Park stretches from Marseille to Cassis and consists of creeks and coves, which can be visited on foot or by boat.

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