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Six of the best hikes in the coastal and inland ranges east of Marseille











Calanque de Port Pin


Half-day trips from Marseille to eastern coastal and inland ranges


Calanques of Sormiou, Morgiou and Sugiton
seen from the heights


As it takes you to several outstanding viewpoints of the three calanques¹ from the heights overlooking the sea, this hike allows you to explore the amazing beauty of the Calanques  without facing any long ascent. Only half an hour outside South Marseille, you first discover Sormiou, with its fishermen cottages, small harbour, beach, and the varying blue hues of the sea. 30 minutes later, you get your first views of Calanque of Morgiou, after taking a balcony path that reaches the edge of the plateau.
Then, your hiking guide leads you on a broad and leveled trail to the most extraordinary viewpoint, located just above Morgiou, offering views of Calanque de Sugiton, as well.

Walking time : 3.5 hours 
Rating : moderate (stony ground)


¹  calanque :  a  narrow inlet of the sea coast, being a drowned canyon 


The Sainte-Baume mountains

The relict forest, holy cave
and panoramic crest (short route)


A high and long limestone cliff on the north-facing slope of the Sainte-Baume mountains has for millennia brought about a microclimate that fostered a relict forest, very old and unique in Provence. That is why this exceptional forest has always been a sacred wood and became a major pilgrimage spot in France in the 11th century. That is also why it is home to a great biodiversity and to sixty-seven remarkable trees. After seing some of these majestic trees and the grotto of Mary Magdalene, a short but steep climb will lead you up to the crest and the Saint Pilon peak from where the view is breathtaking. Up there, you will discover the contrast between the dark and cool forest that you would have walked through and the dry high-value flora of the ridges, living under the sun and the winds.


Walking time : 3 hours 
Rating : moderate (steep descent and ascent)




Port d’Alon, a corner of paradise


In winter, nothing beats a walk on this coastal pathway between Marseille and Toulon. Leaving the pretty little port of La Madrague, you enjoy scenic views over the beautiful bay of La Ciotat. Once you have passed the first two points, the path offers you the opportunity to look at the sea as far as the eye can see. From February onwards, a growing number of plants blossom, bringing a very colorful touch to the hike, in this season. Halfway along the route, you reach the highlight of the hike, the charming cove of Port d’Alon, its pebbly little beach and its cabanons. The feeling of having been worlds away !     


Walking time : 4 hours 
Rating : moderate (stoney sections)















The entrance to Calanque de Sugiton

Marseille is a nice and appealing city. Founded 2,600 years ago as a Greek colony, the city is located on the Mediterranean coast in a 10-mile-wide natural harbour, surrounded by rugged mountains. It is not easy for visitors strolling through downtown Marseille to imagine that they may enjoy, just 5 miles away, coastal sceneries that would make them believe that they are on a wild island in the middle of the Mediterranean.  Yes, that is really the emotion you will experience with a walk to the Calanques, which is indisputably one of the unique things to do in Marseille.   











The long and high cliff of the Sainte-Baume mountains




Day trips from Marseille to eastern coastal and inland ranges 







“This is not a mountain, but it is not a hill any more : it is Garlaban”. This quote by Marcel Pagnol, Provence’s famous novelist and filmmaker is a good summary of Garlaban. This rocky crown, 712 meters high (2,336 feet), overlooks the town of Aubagne, 10 miles east of Marseille, offering an amazing view over the surroundings. If the summit and its panorama are this hike’s goal, you will discover very interesting features on your way up : natural ones, such as a diversified flora or impressive rock ledges, or cultural ones, such as ruined scenery that was built for the purpose of some of Marcel Pagnol‘s movies. A real beautiful walk!

Walking time : 3.5 hours 
Rating : challenging (stony ground and elevation gain)



The Sainte-Baume mountains

The relict forest, holy cave and panoramic crest (long route)


This is a longer itinerary of the half-day hike described above. You can read there full details about the forest and its microclimate. On this day hike, once on the Sainte-Baume mountain ridge, you will follow it eastward, pass through the summit (1,148 m), and keep on almost to the end of the crest ; you will then walk down to another trail, parallel to the crest, that will lead you back to the starting point. Spending 3 hours on the highest trail, you will take full advantage of the fabulous panorama from up there.

Walking time : 6 hours 
Rating : challenging (steep descent and ascent, rocky sections)




In the heart of the Calanques


This large-scale hike favours the discovery of the remarkable biodiversity and gorgeous landscapes of the Massif des Calanques. Starting from the middle of a plateau, a varied route leads you down to the sea, to the beach of Calanque d’En-Vau, at the bottom of impressive cliffs. Later, the fantastic Devenson trail, overhanging the shore, more than 1,000 feet below, provides outstanding views over the famous calanque and over four lesser-known ones. As you walk further west, the Grande Candelle, this emblematic summit of the massif, becomes more and more imposing and beautiful.


Walking time : 6 hours
Rating : medium-difficult (2,500 feet elevation gain, rocky sections)



The ‘Esprit parc national’ brand has been attributed to this guided walk by the Calanques National Park.


All these beautiful hikes can be considered as attractive day trips from Nice, the city being less than a 2.5-hr drive from the different starting points of the hikes.