Calanques National Park near Marseille
one of France’s best natural wonders, between Marseille & Cassis

 

 

 

 

 

Half-Day Hikes                                                                                            Full Day Hikes

 

 

 

Calanques National Park is celebrated for its outstandingly scenic coastal landscapes, one of the most breathtaking outdoors in Europe. This wild, rugged walled coastline is a majestic combination of uplands, abrupt cliffs, crags and boulders, and steep-sided sea coves. These inlets are called calanques. And they are located incredibly close to Marseille, France’s second largest city.

One of the best ways to explore the calanques and enjoy their wild beauty is by taking a hike. We have selected a handful of easy to challenging iconic trails as the best hikes for scenery. You can also embark on other recreational activities such as rock climbing, mountain biking, diving, kayaking and boat excursion.
In order to preserve the natural and cultural heritages of the territory, regulations apply, that we will inform you of.

En route to Calanque de Sormiou

Calanque de Sormiou,
the most spectacular lightning trip from Marseille
Half-day

 

Within 1hr 15 min (drive to trailhead included) from downtown Marseille, Provence’s major city, you can enjoy a nature getaway and discover beautiful views over Calanque de Sormiou. It is one of the largest calanques¹, these steep-walled coves and inlets that beautify Provence’s coastline. Sormiou is a natural amphitheater with white limestone cliffs as terrace seats, the sea as stage and the little port and its cottages as orchestra. After 30 minutes walking from a South Marseille district, your local guide has led you into the heart of Calanques National Park. And up there, from a vantage point, you can stare down to Calanque de Sormiou‘s turquoise waters. You see the seaside hamlet and the red roofs of its ‘cabanons’, old fishermen’s cottages towered over by rocky headlands.

Walking time : 2 hours
Rating : leisurely (rugged terrain)
Season calendar : year-round (summer : 8am – 11am only, not allowed on fire risk days)

¹  calanque :   a  cove or narrow inlet of the sea coast, that is mostly the drowned lower end of a dry canyon

Calanque de Port-Pin

The calanques of Port-Pin & Port-Miou,
hidden gems from the tiny fishing port of Cassis
Half-day

 

Rich in cultural and natural heritage, this picturesque walking path allows a soft approach of the eastern calanques. So, it is an ideal cocktail to discover all peculiarities of Calanques National Park, while getting fond of the beauty of Provence seascapes. With your local guide, you start the hike east of Marseille from the colorful fishing port of Cassis, showing a scenic view on the towering cliffs of Cap Canaille. And you reach the little beach at Calanque de Port-Pin, an exquisite cove surrounded by pine trees. On your way back, you walk along the long, natural marina in Calanque de Port-Miou, where 200 sailboats moor.


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

 

Sormiou, Morgiou & Sugiton from above
Half-day or Full day

 

This nature hike takes you to several outstanding viewpoints of the three calanques from the heights overlooking the sea. So, it allows you to explore the amazing beauty of the Calanques without walking uphill very long. You first discover Sormiou, the largest one, with its fishermen cottages, small harbour and coves. You enjoy there the sea’s varying blue hues. Later, you get your first views of Morgiou, after taking a balcony path to the edge of the plateau. Then, along a short and easy trail, your local guide leads you to the most extraordinary lookout point. Located just above Calanque de Morgiou, it offers views of Sugiton, as well.
Quite easy walking that provides views of great beauty!
To get back to the starting point and make a loop, you have to walk one more hour (4.5 hrs).

Point-to-point or loop hike

Walking time : 3.5 or 4.5 hours
Rating : moderate (rugged terrain)
Season calendar : year-round (summer : 8am – 11:30am only, not allowed on fire risk days)

Come & discover autumn’s late bloomers
Half-day

 

In nature, climate is one of the different components of an ecosystem. This botanical walk is an opportunity to get to know some species of Mediterranean plants showing their flowers or fruits at the end of the year in Calanques National Park. You can see especially the strawberry tree whose little white bells and red berries embellish. You can also abserve the so-called ‘garrigue’, the evergreen shrubby vegetation of the area. Moreover, the trail will offer you the pleasure of admiring Calanque de Sugiton from the clifftop of Falaise des Toits, more than 200 meters above the sea.

In November and December only to be able to watch fruits and flowers, a season when you can enjoy the unique Provence light at its best.


Walking time
: 3 hours 
Rating : leisurely (rugged terrain)
Season calendar : 11/1 – 12/31

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

The high biodiversity of the Calanques massif
Half Day or Full Day

 

This interpretive walk will allow you to develop a deeper understanding of the great biodiversity that can be found in the Calanques National Park. Your hiking guide is knowledgeable about plants and wildlife. He will explain to you, among other things, the importance of the variety of habitats that exist in the Calanques massif ; he will show you some of them, telling you what species, vegetal and animal, can live in these different habitats. The hike will also be a delightful experience along a very scenic trail, offering spectacular views of luminous landscapes in the heart of the Calanques National Park. In particular, you will enjoy a plunging view of Calanque de Sugiton from a cliff top.

Walking time
: between 3 and 4.5 hours

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

Full Day Hikes

Calanque de Sugiton: a little gem, so near, so far
Full day

 

Do you want to embark on an active adventure a stone’s throw south of Marseille ? Take this hiking tour with a professional guide to Calanque de Sugiton. This natural jewel is a sea cove towered by abrupt cliffs and crags, which is located in the heart of Calanques National Park. You need the entire day to get the full benefit of the site : when sitting on its little pebble beach or on a rock overlooking its turquoise blue waters, how hard to leave this place !

Along this hike, you first see Calanque de Sugiton in the distance from atop the rocks, a lookout point from where the panorama opens up to the bay. And what a breathtaking view over Calanque de Morgiou, on the other side ! After this first vista, you then can walk down to the sea and take a closer look at the two-cove calanque. One of Provence’s nature treasures.


Walking time
: 4.5 hours 
Rating : moderate (rugged terrain)
Season calendar : 1/1 – 6/15  &  9/15 – 12/31

Cap Canaille: the highest sea cliff in Europe
Full day

 

Along this trail, you hike in the part of coastline which is at the eastern end of Calanques National Park. The rocks and cliffs that you can see there, located between the tiny fishing town of Cassis and the harbour of La Ciotat, are very different from the rest of Calanques National Park.

Starting from the streets of this last town, you climb along a trail offering a view that encompasses the whole of the bay. And after crossing the Route des Crêtes, the panoramic clifftop road, you quickly reach the top. From up there, overlooking the sea from a height of 1,300 feet, you can see in the distance the white limestone capes and cliffs of the Massif des Calanques. As you walk northwest over the top of the cliff, the view widens to the little port of Cassis, lying in an attractive setting.

Point-to-point hike.


Walking time
: 4.5 hours

Rating : moderate
Season calendar : year-round (not allowed under strong wind and on fire risk days)

Mont Puget, Candelle & Chemin du Centaure
Full Day

 

If taking the route around Mont Puget, highest point of the Calanques National Park, is rated challenging, you are rewarded with the most stunning views from different places. And most of the walk itself should be considered moderate. Your local expert guide is right besides you to help you in the few steep descents on the way. Halfway, near the Grande Candelle, this stone-sentinel rising dramatically over the sea, you enjoy impressive scenery over cliffs, ridges, crags, capes and calanques, both towards the south-east and the south-west. And from the Chemin du Centaure, the clifftop trail back to the loop end, you gaze at the magnificent landscape in the direction of the west : the pine-cloaked hills overlooking the university campus and, in the distance, the Frioul Islands in the middle of the bay and the city of Marseille.

Walking time : 4.5 hours 
Rating : challenging moderate (rugged terrain and a few steep sections)
Season calendar : 1/1 – 6/15  &  9/15 – 12/31

Rochers du Bec de l’Aigle,
a fun hike on puddingstone rocks
Full day

 

Rochers du Bec de l’Aigle are some of the most spectacular peaks on the coast of Provence. These cliffs rocks, called puddingstone, are not made of the white limestone visible in the famous ‘calanques’, but sculpted in an orange brown and shaped by erosion. This hike starts from the town of La Ciotat, known for its beaches, pretty port and yacht refit shipyards.

The Mugel Park and Calanque de Figuerolles are worth visiting before following the street up to Notre-Dame de la Garde chapel. Escorted by your local guide, you then enjoy a unique, scenic and exciting seaside traverse on these puddingstone rocks, off the beaten trails.


Walking time
 : 4.5 hours
Rating : challenging (rugged terrain, impressive sections)
Season calendar : 1/1 – 6/15  &  9/15 – 12/31 (not allowed under strong wind conditions)


If you have a fear of heights, you had better choose another hike.

Get expert guidance when scrambling on the 4 long adventure hikes described below :

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Calanque d’En-Vau, praised for supreme beauty
Full day

 

Is it worth hiking all the craggy trail to get to Calanque d’En-Vau from Cassis ? Anyone wondering about this has probably not seen the photos of it. Because En-Vau, acclaimed for its brilliant-turquoise waters towered over by 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 lookout points : from the clifftops, first behind the calanque, then from the side, quite different, and from the beach, at the very bottom. 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. In the last one, you view 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 turn out to be even more amazing as they seem to be on screen or magazines !

Walking time : 4.5 hours
Rating : challenging (rugged terrain, scrambling)
Season calendar : 1/1 – 6/15  &  9/15 – 12/31

Ascents and descents from Morgiou to Sugiton
Full Day

 

A classic hike, strenuous, but unrivalled for its seascapes, with two challenging upwards passages of scrambling. It provides many opportunities, on a sunny day, to enjoy the brilliant color constrats so particular here : between the dark and turquoise blues of the sea, the bright blue of the sky, the varied green shades of plants and the white of cliffs and outcrops. Your guide first leads you to the tiny harbour of Morgiou, with about one hundred ‘cabanons’, these pretty fishermen cottages. During your ascent, as you leave Morgiou, you discover beautiful views of the wide entrance to the calanque and of the small port in its narrowest part. You take a last glance back to Morgiou, and once beyond Cap Sugiton, appear in long distant view the cliffs of Cap Canaille and even further Cap Sicié. The small, pretty Calanque de Sugiton, with turquoise waters, then comes into view. It bursts upon the senses with very little warning ! This tiny cove is sheltered by very high cliffs and by gigantic crags, such as Grande Candelle, whose top reach 454 meters!  

Walking time : 5 hours 
Rating : challenging (rugged terrain and scrambling)
Season calendar : 1/1 – 6/15  &  9/15 – 12/31

In the heart of the Calanques
Full Day

 

This large-scale hike favours the discovery of Calanques National Park‘s remarkable biodiversity and gorgeous landscapes. Your local guide will be pleased to show them to you. 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, you walk along the overhanging Devenson trail, more than 1,000 feet above the sea, enjoying outstanding views over En-Vau and four lesser-known calanques. As you walk further west, the Grande Candelle, this emblematic summit of the Massif des Calanques, becomes more and more imposing and beautiful.

 

Walking time : 6 hours
Rating : medium-difficult (2,500 feet elevation gain, rock scrambles)
Season calendar : 1/1 – 6/15  &  9/15 – 12/31

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

Crossing the Calanques and plunging into their wild beauty
Full Day

 

This day hike is unrivaled for its amazing sceneries : quite a long traverse, from the university campus in Marseille to the tiny fishing town of Cassis. Through Calanques National Park, you walk 12 miles over stony paths. During this adventure, you enjoy countless breathtaking views, from at least 3 distinct levels : the shoreline, the clifftop, and, in between, the balcony trail. Within 7hrs, you have the chance with your local guide to explore the 5 most spectacular Provence’s calanques : Sormiou, Morgiou, SugitonEn-Vau, Port-Pin and Port-Miou. Nothing more needs saying.
This scrambling hike requires intermediate-advanced hiking fitness.

Point-to-point hike.

Walking time : 6.5 hours
Rating : difficult (steep ascents/descents, rock scrambles)
Season calendar : 1/1 – 6/15  &  9/15 – 12/31

 

All these beautiful hikes in Calanques National Park can also be considered as attractive day trips from Nice, the city being less than a 2.5-hour drive from Cassis or the southern districts of Marseille.

 


The Côte Bleue

Another wild section of the coastline is blessed by a dozen of calanques and a few small fishing villages on the other side of the Marseille bay : the Côte Bleue (Blue Coast). A train running along a heritage track and passing over eighteen beautiful viaducts built between 1875 and 1915 can bring you to the starting point of the hike, offering you wonderful views of the coast and the Marseille bay.

 

The Côte Bleue, such a beautiful coastland !
Half-day

 

The twenty miles of coastline stretching west of Marseille is called Côte Bleue (Blue Coast) due to the colour of the sea. It is a preserved marine area called the Parc Régional Marin de la Côte Bleue. And it is also the area where the Chaine de l’Estaque, a dramatic range of limestone hills, meets the Mediterranean. Even if this massif is not elevated, its numerous escarpments and arid appearance give the landscape its unique features, particularly its beautiful inlets. The trail along the coast, called the Sentier du Douanier (coast guard footpath), was built to allow the watching of potential invaders or smugglers. It offers today to walkers numerous panoramic views of the sea, with the large city of Marseille in the background. 


Walking time
 : 3 hours 

Rating : challenging (stony and craggy terrain)
Season calendar : 1/1 – 6/15  &  9/15 – 12/31