Home » Multiday tours » A variety of inland & coastal hiking trips east of Marseille

 

10 choices of inland and coast hiking trips in the great outdoors east of Marseille

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Calanque de Port Pin

 

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

 

Under Pic de Bertagne, the highest peak in the vicinity

 

This relatively short one-way hike (5miles/8km), including low elevation gain (650ft/200m), offers spectacular scenery over the Marseille region and a panorama as far as the Southern Alps. It allows a real close approach to Pic de Bertagne (1,042m), top of the western part of the Sainte-Baume mountain ridge and of the surroundings. This crag is easily identifiable from the distance thanks to its massive stone face, a paradise for climbers, and to the gigantic white ball (civil aviation radar) built on it. You have time to contemplate the steep cliffs on your way from the foot of Dents de Roque Forcade towards the isolated plateau of Plan des Vaches.

 

Walking time : 2.5 hours
Rating : moderate (rugged terrain)
Season calendar : year-round (summer : 8am – 12am only, not allowed on fire risk days)

 

 

 

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 de 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 (rugged terrain)

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, particularly to sixty-seven trees that bear the label “arbre remarquable de France” in order to preserve them as cultural and natural heritage. 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 in sunny and windy conditions.

 

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

 

 

 

The incomparable view of Calanque d’En-Vau
from vantage points on top of high cliffs 

 

En-Vau is the most breathtaking of all calanques thanks to the steep white cliffs all around, rising from the sea, whose waters have beautiful shades of blue, from turquoise to deep blue, as well as light emerald green. On this amazing hike, starting from the little fishermen port of Cassis, you walk along Calanque de Port-Miou and, later, through the beach of Calanque de Port-Pin. On your way back, you can first enjoy magnificent views looking down over Calanque d’En-Vau before reaching viewpoints over Calanque de Port-Pin, facing opposite from the beach you have already walked through. Private and public boat excursions are offered to admire different vistas of the calanques.

 

Walking time : 3 hours
Rating : leisurely (rugged terrain)
Season calendar : year-round (summer : 8am – 11am only, not allowed on fire risk days)

Excursion by boat non included.

 

 

 

Port d’Alon, a corner of paradise

 

In winter and early spring, nothing beats a walk on this coastal pathway between Bandol and Saint-Cyr-sur-Mer. 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 travelled worlds away ! 

On your way back, your local guide leads you through the vineyards of the area, whose well-known wine appellation is Bandol.


Walking time
 : 4 hours 
Rating : moderate (rugged terrain)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The entrance to Calanque de Sugiton

Marseille is a nice and appealing city. Founded 2,600 years ago as a Greek colony, this sunny 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 

 

 

 

Garlaban and its vast, fragrant expanses of garrigue

 

“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. Overlooking the town of Aubagne, 10 miles east of Marseille, this rocky crown, 712 meters high (2,336 feet), offers an amazing view over the surroundings. If the summit and its panorama are this hike’s goal, you discover fascinating features on your way up, starting with natural ones : landscapes made of rugged hills, pine groves and vast expanses of garrigue. Pagnol writes with great wonder and sensuality about nature in his childhood memoirs ‘My Father’s Glory’ and ‘My Mother’s Castle’. But you too will never forget the exploration of these limestone scrublands and rolling hills cut by deep ravines and carpeted with fragrant plants such as thyme, rosemary, lavender and more or less prickly shrubs such as kermes oak, rockrose, cade juniper and gorse ; and, on top of that, you will get the chirping of cicadas in summer, but, then, you will have to be back early because of the heat ! Cultural landmarks will be on your way as well, such as Angèle’s Farm and the abandoned village of Aubignane, ruined outdoor settings that were built for the purpose of some of Pagnol‘s movies. A great walk!

Walking time : 4.5 hours 
Rating : challenging (rugged terrain and elevation gain)
Season calendar : year-round (summer : 7:30am – 12:00pm only, not allowed on fire risk days)

 

 

 

Cap Canaille and the Calanque de Figuerolles 

 

This circular hike from La Ciotat, not very difficult, allows you to see the beautiful Calanque de Figuerolles. It also offers an outstanding view from the top of the Cap Canaille, which is the highest sea cliff in Europe (394 meters/1,293 feet) and part of Calanques National Park. It also makes it possible to explore a type of rocks, called conglomerates, very different from the limestone that can be found in the other Provence massifs (Calanques, Alpilles, Sainte Victoire, Ventoux, …) and to discover a new scrubland vegetation called maquis, denser and taller than the garrigue vegetation. Your local guide will help you with identification of the plants that grow in maquis.

The sedimentary and conglomerate rocks, ochre in colour, that constitute the sea cliffs and pinnacles between La Ciotat and Cassis, are harbingers of the nearby limit between the white limestone Provence and the brown/red siliceous Provence : farther La Ciotat eastwards, starts the Var, the Département where can be found the famous brown rock Maures massif and red rock Estérel one.

 

Walking time : 4.5 hours
Rating : moderate
Season calendar : year-round (summer : 7:30am – 12:00pm only, not allowed on fire risk days)

 

 

 

 

Calanque d’En-Vau, famous and of unrivalled beauty

 

Calanque d’En-Vau, near Cassis, acclaimed for its brilliant-turquoise waters and sheer white cliffs, is a nature paradise for hikers and rock climbers. On this walking day in the heart of Calanques National Park, you will have the opportunity to admire this Provence natural wonder from three different viewpoints : two from the top of the cliffs, behind the calanque, as shown on the picture, and from the side, quite different ; the third from the beach. On your way to the small, bustling fishing port of Cassis, your local guide will offer you a chance to discover two other beautiful calanques : Port-Pin and Port-Miou. The last one, the longest calanques of all, almost one mile, is a natural marina on half of its length : more than two hundreds sailboats dock.
Among all the images that will remain in your mind after you trip to the South of France, those seen during this hike will undoubtedly hold a special place !

 

Walking time : 4.5 hours
Rating : challenging (rugged terrain)
Season calendar : year-round (summer : 7:30am – 12:00pm only, not allowed on fire risk days)

 

 

 

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, rugged terrain)

 

 

In the heart of the Calanques,
an immersion into their wild beauty

 

This large-scale hike favours the discovery of the remarkable biodiversity and gorgeous landscapes of the Massif des Calanques. Starting from a trailhead located in the central portion of the Carpiagne 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 crag of the massif, becomes more and more awe-inspiring and majestic.

 

Walking time : 6 hours
Rating : medium-difficult (2,500 feet elevation gain, rugged terrain)
Season calendar : year-round (summer : 7:30am – 12:00pm only, not allowed on fire risk days)

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.

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