Home » Regions » Guided hiking & walking tours in Calanques National Park near Marseille and Cassis, France

Half-day and Full Day hiking tours in Calanques National Park 
one of France’s natural wonders, just outside of Marseille

 

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

 

Just 1 hour 15 minutes away from central Marseille (drive to trailhead included), you can enjoy a nature getaway and discover beautiful views over one of the largest calanques¹, these steep-walled coves and bays that beautify Provence’s coastline : Sormiou, 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 you are staring down to Calanque de Sormiou‘s turquoise waters, 250 meters below,  gazing at the red roofs of its ‘cabanons’, these fishermen’s cottages clustered at the back of each of the two coves and 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 inlet, which was a dry canyon that has been drowned by the sea

 

 


Vast natural protected area, the Calanques National Park is a combination of mountains and sea, incredibly close to Marseille, France’s second largest city. Beside its countless and so diverse hiking trails, you can embark on other outdoor 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 you have to be aware of and follow.

 

 The calanques of Port-Pin and Port-Miou,
hidden gems to unearth from the charming port of Cassis
Half-day

 

Rich in cultural and natural heritage, this colorful walking path allows a soft approach of the eastern calanques : an ideal cocktail to discover and appreciate all peculiarities of Calanques National Park, while getting fond of the beauty of Provence seascapes. Starting just east of Marseille, in the picturesque fishing port of Cassis from where a scenic view on the towering cliffs of Cap Canaille can be seen, you will reach the little beach at Calanque de Port-Pin, this rocky inlet surrounded by pine trees. On your way back, you will walk along the natural marina in Calanque de Port-Miou. In addition to your nature walk, you can take a boat excursion to admire from a different viewpoint the calanques that you have explored on foot.

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. 

 

 

 

 

In search of the strawberry tree and year end plants
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, then, 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 top of Falaise des Toits, more than 200 meters above the sea. In November and December only.

 

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

 

As it takes you to several outstanding viewpoints of the three calanques from the heights overlooking the sea, this nature trail allows you to explore the amazing beauty of the Calanques without walking uphill very long. You first discover Sormiou, the largest of all, with its fishermen cottages, small harbour, beach, and the varying blue hues of the sea. 30 minutes later, you get your first views of Morgiou, after taking a balcony path that reaches the edge of the plateau. Then, your local guide leads you on a broad and leveled trail to the most extraordinary viewpoint, located just above Calanque de Morgiou, and offering views of Calanque de Sugiton, as well.
Quite easy walking that provides views of great beauty!
This hike can last one more hour depending on pace and route.


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)

 

 

 

Cap Canaille : the tallest sea cliffs in Europe
Full Day

 

This hike allows you to see the most eastern part of Calanques National Park, which is very different from the rest of the national park : cliffs rock here are not made of the white limestone that you can see in the Calanque d’En-Vau but they are sculpted in an orange brown rock called pudding stone and shaped by erosion. Starting from the harbour of La Ciotat, with your local guide, you climb in the direction of the crest on a trail offering a view that embraces the full extent of La Ciotat bay. After crossing the Route des Crêtes, the panoramic clifftop road, you quickly reach the crest. From the top of the cliff, you overlook the sea from a height of almost 400 meters (1,300 feet). You can see in the distance the white limestone capes and cliffs of the Massif des Calanques. As you walk north along the crest, the view widens to the little port of Cassis, lying in an attractive setting. 


Walking time
: 4.5 hours
Rating : moderate 
Season calendar : year-round

 

 

 

Calanque de Sugiton : a little jewel, so close, so far
Full Day

 

This hike provides an active adventure to enjoy just outside Marseille:  the walk is about 4 hours and a half long but you will surely need the entire day to get the full benefit of it : when sitting on its little pebble beach or on a rock towering over its turquoise-blue waters, it is so hard to leave Calanque de Sugiton, this natural jewel located in the heart of Calanques National Park! You can first see it in the distance from atop the rocks, a viewpoint 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

 

 

 

Get expert guidance in scrambling on these three long adventure hikes :


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

 

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 walking 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, 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, that your local guide will be pleased to show you. 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 at 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, 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, plunging into their wild beauty
Full Day

 

This day hike is unrivaled for its land- and seascapes. It is quite a long traverse, from the university campus in Marseille to the charming port town of Cassis : through a protected natural area, Calanques National Park, you will be walking 12 miles over stony paths. During this trip, you will enjoy countless breathtaking views, from at least 3 marked levels : the shoreline, the top of the bluffs, and, at midway up, the balcony trail. Under the supervision of and with interpretations by your local guide,  you will have the chance within 7 hours to explore all the most spectacular Provence’s calanques : Sormiou, Morgiou, SugitonEn-Vau, Port-Pin and Port-Miou. Nothing more needs saying.
This scrambling/hiking trip requires intermediate-advanced hiking fitness.

 

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 seaside !
Half-day

 

The twenty miles of coastland 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. 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, called the Sentier du Douanier (coast guard footpath), which was built to allow the watching of potential invaders or smugglers, offers 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