Marseille’s wild coast & hinterland
Check out the 10 walks below & build your multiday guided tour







                                                                                                                                Calanque d’En-Vau



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


Under Pic de Bertagne, the highest peak nearby

This relatively short one-way hike (5miles/8km) with small elevation gain (650ft/200m) that leads to one of the summits of lower Provence is spectacular. It offers an outstanding scenery over the Marseille region, with the sea in the distance, 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 mountains, and of its vicinity. 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. This spot is 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)


Outlooks over Sormiou, Morgiou & Sugiton

Whilst hiking, your local guide leads you to several outstanding viewpoints of the three calanques¹, from the heights overlooking the sea. They allow you to catch the amazing beauty of the Calanques  without tackling any long ascent. Only half an hour outside Marseille, you first discover Sormiou. With its fishermen cottages and small harbour, this calanque is a gorgeous scenery, exalted by the varying blue hues of the sea. 30 minutes later, you get your first views of Calanque de Morgiou, as you walk on a scenic path.
Finally, your hiking guide shows you the most extraordinary viewpoint, easy to reach. Located just above Morgiou, it offers views of Calanque de Sugiton, as well.

Point-to-point hike.

Walking time : 3.5 hours
Rating : moderate (rugged terrain)
Season calendar : year-round (summer : 8am – 11am only, not allowed on fire risk days)

¹  calanque :  a cove or inlet of the sea coast, with steep rock walls

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)
Season calendar : year-round (summer : 8am – 11am only, not allowed on fire risk days) 

Incomparable views over Calanque d’En-Vau

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 fishing 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.

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

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

Around Dents de Roque Forcade

Within half an hour drive from Marseille and from Aix, this hike is the perfect energetic outdoor activity.  Following a point-to-point trail in the Sainte-Baume mountains, it has an elevation gain of 550m (1,800ft), making it a physical walk. But, the trail is quite broad, the terrain not rugged, with very few and short steep sections. So, it is not difficult. And it allows people to chat all the way long. You also have time to contemplate beautiful landscapes around, especially the steep limestone cliffs of Dents de Roque Forcade.

Walking time : 3.5 hours (point-to-point route)
Rating : moderate/challenging (medium elevation gain)
Season calendar : year-round (summer : 8am – 12am only, not allowed on fire risk days)













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’s vast, fragrant expanses of garrigue

Marcel Pagnol, a Provence’s famous novelist and filmmaker, wrote: “This is not a mountain, but it is not a hill any more: it is 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 also discover fascinating features on your way up: first, natural ones as a scenery made of rugged hills, pine groves and vast expanses of garrigue. Pagnol wrote with great wonder and sensuality about landscapes in his childhood memoirs ‘My Father’s Glory’ and ‘My Mother’s Castle’. You too will never forget the exploration of these limestone scrublands and rolling hills.  Cut by deep ravines, they are carpeted with fragrant plants such as thyme, rosemary, lavender and other brush.  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 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)

En-Vau, praised for supreme beauty

Is it worth the effort to hike all the intense trail to get to Calanque d’En-Vau from Cassis? Definitely yes! The pay off is big. Because En-Vau, acclaimed for its brilliant-turquoise waters and dramatic 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 to be!

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 follow it eastward, pass through the summit (1,148 m), and keep on almost to the end of the crest ; you then walk down to another trail, parallel to the crest, that leads you back to the starting point. As you spend 3 hours on the highest trail, you take full advantage of the fabulous panorama from up there.

Walking time : 6 hours
Rating : challenging (steep descent and ascent, rugged terrain)
Season calendar : year-round (summer : 7:30am – 12:00pm only, not allowed on fire risk days)

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.





Click map of Provence
to get an overall view of the region

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