Home » Multiday tours » Hiking tours on the coast & in the hinterland east of Marseille


Choose among 10 trails on the coast and
in the hinterland east of Marseille

and build your multiday tour

 

                                                                                                                           

                                                                                                                               

                                                                                                                               

                                                                                                                           

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                                                                                           Calanque de Port Pin

 

Half-day trips to coastal and inland ranges east of Marseille
 

 

Under Pic de Bertagne, the highest peak in the vicinity

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

 

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

 

This hike takes you to several outstanding viewpoints of the three calanques¹ from the heights overlooking the sea. It 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. This calanque, with its fishermen cottages, small harbour, beach, and the varying blue hues of the sea, is magnificent. 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, it offers 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, long limestone cliff on the north-facing slope of the Sainte-Baume mountains has for millennia brought about a microclimate. This specificity has fostered a relict forest, very old and unique in Provence. That is why this exceptional forest has always been a sacred wood, becoming a major pilgrimage site in France from the 11th c.. That is also the reason why it is home to a great biodiversity. 67 trees bear the label “arbre remarquable de France” in order to preserve them as cultural and natural heritage. After first gazing at some of these majestic trees, you then admire the grotto of Mary Magdalene. Later, a short but steep climb takes you up to the Saint Pilon peak. From up there the view is breathtaking ! You discover the contrast between the dark and cool forest below 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. Its waters have beautiful shades of blue, from turquoise to deep blue, as well as light emerald green. On this amazing hike, starting near the little fishermen port of Cassis, you firstly walk along Calanque de Port-Miou and, secondly, through the beach of Calanque de Port-Pin. Your local guide thirdly leads you to the top of cliffs, from where you can enjoy magnificent views looking down over Calanque d’En-Vau. After walking down for a while, you fourthly reach splendid viewpoints over Calanque de Port-Pin. You are now facing opposite from the beach you have walked through a good hour ago. Back to Port-Pin, you finally return to the starting point, amazed by what you have seen.

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 an attraction not to be missed when you come to Marseille.   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The long and high cliff of the Sainte-Baume mountains

 

 

 

Day trips to coastal and inland ranges east of Marseille

 

 

 

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, 17km east of Marseille, this rocky crown offers an amazing view all over. If the summit, 712m high (2,336ft), and its panorama are this hike’s goal, you discover fascinating features on your way up. It starts with natural ones : a scenery made of rugged hills, pine groves and vast expanses of garrigue. Pagnol writes with great wonder and sensuality about landscapes 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.  As, cut by deep ravines, they are carpeted with fragrant plants such as thyme, rosemary, lavender and other brush. And, on top of that, you get the chirping of cicadas if walking in summer But, then, you have to be back early because of the heat ! Cultural landmarks will be on your way as well : Angèle’s Farm and the abandoned village of Aubignane, both ruined outdoor settings that were built for the purpose of some of Pagnol‘s movies. A real 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 discover 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, …). You can explore one part of the brown/red siliceous Provence. The other famous siliceous Provençal massifs are the brown rock Maures and red rock Estérel. On this soil, you 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.

 

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

 

 

 

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Calanque d’En-Vau, renowned for its unrivalled beauty

 

Is it worth hiking all the craggy trail to get to Calanque d’En-Vau from Cassis ? Anyone who ask themselves the question has probably not seen the photos of it. Because En-Vau, acclaimed for its brilliant-turquoise waters and sheer white cliffs, is a nature paradise for both hikers and rock climbers. On this walking day in Calanques National Park, you can admire this Provence natural wonder from several viewpoints : from the clifftops, first behind the calanque, then from the side, quite different, and from the beach. On your way back to the port of Cassis, your local walking guide offers you a chance to discover two other beautiful calanques : Port-Pin and Port-Miou. The last one, the longest calanques of all, is a lovely natural marina where more than 200 sailboats moor.

In the end, the spectacular images seen during this hike will undoubtedly hold a special place among all those seen during your trip to the South of France ! Because if many sceneries throughout the world look better in pictures than in real life, these calanques are even more amazing as they seem !


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 on the Carpiagne plateau, 10 miles from Marseille, a route through varied terrain leads you down to the sea. You reach the small, rocky 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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