The Ultimate Guide to the Calanques in Marseille and Cassis

Calanque de Port-Pin - French Riviera

The Ultimate Guide to the Calanques in Marseille and Cassis

The Calanques are a must-see natural wonder in Marseille and Cassis! I have been in the calanques 15 years ago and this summer and I was in awe both times! You can describe the calanques as steep limestone coastal cliffs coming inland. They are truly breathtaking! I am sharing with you here all the information you need to visit the Calanques in Marseille and Cassis.

Calanque de Port-Pin - French Riviera
Calanque de Port-Pin - French Riviera

Let’s start with the beginning: I will give you here many good reasons why you should visit the calanques if you are in the area of Marseille and Cassis. The landscapes, the nature, the biodiversity and the heritage are beautiful and priceless in the Calanques.

The cliffs are impressive, and the waters have an amazing turquoise color.

The calanques are the perfect place if you love the outdoor and the adventure. Visiting them always include hiking – but there are often some options for the hiking paths: an easier one and a more complicated one, or a faster one and a longer one. You can also do some kayak in the calanques. And of course, you will enjoy resting at the beach and swimming in the Mediterranean Sea!

The calanques are so extraordinary that they get one million visitors every year! Therefore, a National Park was created to protect this unique environment. The park helps to preserve those natural sights while welcoming human activity and informing the visitors.

Where to find the Calanques

Calanque de Port-Miou - French Riviera
Calanque de Port-Miou - French Riviera

Now that you are convinced to visit the calanques 😉 , let’s deal with more practical information. Starting with where exactly you can find them!

The Calanques National Park stretches from Marseille to Cassis and La Ciotat over 24 km, in the south, behind the Marseilleveyre massif and the Puget massif.

Here is a list of the 15 Calanques, ranked from the closest to Marseille to the closest to Cassis.

  • La Mounine
  • Marseilleveyre
  • Les Queyrons
  • Podestat
  • L’Escu
  • Sormiou
  • Morgiou
  • Sugiton
  • L’Oeil de Verre
  • Le Devenson
  • L’Eissadon
  • L’Oule
  • En-Vau
  • Port-Pin
  • Port-Miou

The best time of the year to visit the Calanques in Marseille and Cassis

Calanque de Port-Pin - French Riviera
Calanque de Port-Pin - French Riviera

There is some important information to know to understand what is the best time of the year to visit the calanques. During summer, from the 1st of June to the 30th of September, the walking access to the calanques depends on a prefectoral decision to handle the important number of visits and the fire risk in the forest massifs. It’s usually forbidden to walk to the forest massifs when the wind is high and it’s too hot.

My secret tip: you can check the access here: Access to the Calanques. Information is updated on a daily basis, until 6pm for the day after.

Therefore, the best moment to visit the calanques is probably in spring when the sun is shining but not too hot! You can also go there at the beginning of autumn as the weather is very nice all year long in the French Riviera!

I hiked in the calanques at the beginning of July and I didn’t know about the access restrictions. I was lucky to be able to visit the day I went there, because the day before it was super windy, and the access was closed. Hiking in the calanques under the heat in summer was a challenge, but swimming in the fresh water once we arrived at the beach was a great reward!

How much time you should plan to visit the Calanques in Marseille and Cassis

Calanque de Port-Pin - French Riviera
Calanque de Port-Pin - French Riviera

The coast along the massifs of Marseilleveyre and the Puget is 24 km long and there are 15 beautiful calanques to see, so probably  won’t be able to see them all – except if you stay a long time in the region of Marseille!

Therefore, I would recommend you pick one or two that are located close to each other. Below I am giving you a recommendation of the best calanques to visit!

You also need to be aware that hiking in the calanques takes some time. So, the best is to plan a full day for this little adventure 🙂 .

You should start hiking early in the morning, before it gets too hot and before the crowd arrives. The later you arrive, the more complicated it is to find a parking spot and also to find a good spot on the beaches! Once you have reached the beach you wanted, you can enjoy sunbathing, swimming or any other outdoor activities you like!

You can also stay only half a day: arrive in the morning and leave when you feel like it!

Some tips to prepare your visit to the Calanques

Calanque de Port-Pin - French Riviera
Calanque de Port-Pin - French Riviera

Once you are in the calanques, you are in the nature and there are usually no facilities. So, it’s better you come prepared!

  • Bring a lot of water: this is essential as hiking under the hot sun is a challenge!
  • Bring your own food and drinks: except in a few calanques like Sormiou or Morgiou, there are usually no shop or restaurant in the massif.
  • Hiking shoes are a must.
  • Do not forget your swimsuit if you want to swim 😉
  • Put a hat or a cap on your head to protect you from the sun.
  • Protect your skin with some reef-safe sunscreen.
  • Bringing water shoes is a great idea as the rocks can hurt your feet as you are walking in the water.
  • Bring your adventure spirit and your good vibes 🙂

The preservation of the environment in the Calanques

Calanque de Port-Pin - French Riviera
Calanque de Port-Pin - French Riviera

FYI here are some of the permanent restrictions to know when you are hiking in the calanques in attend to preserve the environment and avoid any risk of fire:

  • Do not smoke or light a fire
  • No wild camping, bivouac or trailers
  • Don’t make noise
  • Avoid using a motorized vehicle outside the open roads
  • No parking beside the road (outside of the reserved spots)
  • Don’t pick up, take or introduce any animal or vegetable species (outside picking plants for a cooking or family medicinal use)

 

And you also should:

  • Carry your garbage out with you
  • Respect the flora and fauna, do not pick up flowers and do not disturb the animals
  • Remain in the indicated paths to prevent erosion and destruction of endangered species of the massif.

 

Please be respectful of this beautiful place!

On a side note, remember to be careful: falling rocks are a potential danger in the massif and some rocks have become slippery because of high number of hikers.

Visiting the Calanques of Port-Miou, Port-Pin and d’En-Vau

Calanque d'En-Vau - French Riviera
Calanque d'En-Vau - French Riviera

I told you in a previous paragraph, that I would give you a recommendation for the best calanques to visit. This summer I visited three calanques: Port-Miou, Port-Pin and d’En-Vau. The calanques d’En-Vau is the most spectacular one of the calanques, therefore it was high on my list! The calanques of Port-Miou and Port-Pin are on the way to hike to d’En-Vau, so you can basically see three calanques for the price of one hehe 🙂 .

Read below to get all the info about those three calanques!

Where to park to visit the Calanques of Port-Miou, Port-Pin and d’En-Vau

The calanques of Port-Miou, Port-Pin and d’En-Vau are the closest ones to Cassis. To visit them you should drive to the city of Cassis. Once you are in Cassis, follow the signs indicating “les calanques”. There are some dedicated parking areas close to Port-Miou on the peninsula.

If you arrive early (before 10am):

  • You can park in the “Parking de la Presqu’île” for 8 euros a day (500 spots). This parking is very practical because of its location but be aware that you can get stuck in traffic jams during rush hour as it’s located in a dead end. Address: 17 Avenue Notre Dame 13260 Cassis.
  • Or you can park your car along the street. The parking spots in the street are usually made for the locals, but you can find a spot available if you arrive early in the morning. We arrived at 9am and found a spot in the street. We parked there for 4 hours and it costed us 4 euros. My secret tip: the best spots to park your car in the street to walk to Port-Miou/ Port-Pin and d’En-Va are the beginning of Avenue Notre Dame, of Avenue Bailli de Suffren and of Avenue Jean Jacques Garcin.

If you arrive later:

  • If you arrive later in the morning in summer (especially in the weekend), you might not be able to find a parking spot close to Port-Miou as everyone will have the same idea as you. In that case you can park in downtown in Cassis. There are several parking garages in the city. The price is around 5,70 euros for 3h.
  • Another of secret tips for parking: you can also park your car in “parking des Gorguettes” at the entrance of Cassis. This parking is free and there are some shuttles that will take you to the calanques for 1,60 euros (round trip) every 20 min from 9am to 8pm. The shuttles are working every day in July and August. From Easter to the end of June and in September, the shuttles are working only in the weekends and the bank holidays from 9am to 8pm.

The Calanque of Port-Miou

The calanque of Port-Miou is a marina with more than 1400 meters in length. Its name means “best harbor” and it was baptized like this by the fishermen at the time because it’s very deep, well protected from the winds and it was full of fishes. In the 20th century it was transformed in a quarry exploiting the limestone to make whitewash. You can see the remains of it if you look at the cliffs and the old hoppers (big funnels) on the seaside: the limestone was extracted with dynamite, then crushed to be loaded on the boats waiting in front of the hoppers. Wandering in the calanque of Port-Miou will allow you to enjoy the views of the typical harbor on one side and of the cliffs on the other side. Around 500 boats are mooring here. Another of the good reasons why you should go to Port-Miou is to access the two other calanques of Port-Pin and d’En-Vau.

Access: It will take you around 10 min walk from the closest parking spot in the Cassis Peninsula.

The Calanque of Port-Pin

The calanque of Port-Pin is quite popular as it’s easy to access and the beach is beautiful! Its name comes from all the pine trees that are growing around here. They provide some shades, which you will find quite pleasant if you visit in summer. There is a shingle beach with turquoise blue waters so you can actually swim in Port-Pin! There is enough space for you to lie down on the beach and enjoy the incomparable natural beauty of the place! You can also lie down or sit on the rock terraces on the sides of the beach. The earlier you arrive in the morning, the better, as you can choose the best spots on the beach!

Access: Once you are in the calanque of Port-Miou you will find the indications to reach Port-Pin. Just go along Port-Miou’s old quarry and follow the path going down to Port-Pin after a small hill. You can take some beautiful photos on the way! It will take you around 30 min of walk (more or less depending if you are used to hike or not) to arrive to Port-Pin from Port-Miou. You can also reach it by kayak from Cassis.

The Calanque of En-Vau

The Calanque d’En-Vau is famous for being the most stunning one in the national park! Its location in the middle of very high cliffs and its pristine blue waters will impress and amaze you! The hike might be more difficult than for the other ones, but you will be rewarded! There are some breathtaking viewpoints on the way from Port-Pin.

At the end, there is a shingle beach waiting for you with crystal-clear waters: the perfect place to swim and lie down! This calanque is a gem!

The earlier you arrive in the morning, the better, as you can choose the best spot!

Apparently, this beach is also the home of a few wild boars who sometimes swim among the tourists and lie down on the beach! It’s better not to feed them: they may become invasive and aggressive.

How to access En-Vau:

Calanque d'En-Vau - French Riviera
Calanque d'En-Vau - French Riviera

There are a few different ways to access the beautiful Calanques d’En-Vau.

Access En-Vau via Port-Pin:

You have 2 possible ways to access En-Vau via Port-Pin: as faster one and a scenic one.

  • The faster track will take you to the beach of En-Vau in around 30/45 min (in total 1h15 from Port-Miou). For this one follow the white and red marking (the GR98-51 route). You will get there quicker but you won’t get to enjoy the views.
  • The scenic track (which I recommend, at least on the way in) will allow you to walk along the coastline to the tip of the cliff of Port-Pin before heading to the calanque of En-Vau. For this one follow the blue marking. It takes longer (around 1h15 or more depending if you are used to hike or not), but you will get amazing views of both calanques! Totally worth it! My secret tip: here are the coordinates of my favorite viewpoint: 43.2018235, 5.5024265.

Other ways to access En-Vau:

  • By the parking of Col de la Gardiole (without passing by Port-Miou). The hike is easier, but this access is not open all year long (not in summer).
  • By kayak from Cassis: a nice way to enjoy this place with a different perspective!

Other Calanques in Marseille and Cassis that worth a visit:

Here are a few other Calanques that I recommend:

  • The Calanque of Sormiou: this calanque is the largest of Marseille and has one of the most beautiful sand beaches! The sand beach is lined with typical cabins, restaurants and a launching ramp for the boats of the residents. Some locals have charming traditional houses here! You can also discover some small creeks, shingle beaches and a prehistoric cave if you wander around. I visited Sormiou 15 years ago and loved it!
  • The Calanque of Morgiou: this deep calanque offers a port with typical cabins, cafes and restaurants, and a small protected beach. Local fishermen are enjoying this area!
  • The calanque of Sugiton, close to Morgiou: this calanque setting in the middle of high cliffs has 2 beautiful creeks with shingle beaches. It’s a great place for hiking and gazing at panoramic views!

With this ultimate guide I did my best to provide you with all the information you need to visit the Calanques in Marseille and Cassis. But let me know if you have any more questions!

In case you were wondering, I would recommend to stay in Marseille or in Cassis to visit the calanques. Marseille is a very big city and will provide you with a lot of things to do and is more vibrant. Cassis is a small charming town, more peaceful but with less activities. Take a look at my recommendation for a place to stay in Marseille here Where to stay in Marseille.

As you will be in the French Riviera, you should also take a look at my article 10 days in the French Riviera, your road trip itinerary. I am giving you many tips to visit Marseille, Nice, Monaco, Menton and more!

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About Me

Hello! I am Ophélie, an avid traveller, photographer and foodista. I am French and I live in Paris.

This blog, will give you all my secrets: my best addresses (sightseeing and food) all around the world and in Paris, and my travel and lifestyle tips!

 

Let’s keep in touch!

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52 Comments
  • Roneth Politud
    Posted at 09:11h, 08 August Reply

    Wow! This place looks amazing. I hope I can visit here one day. Pinning this post for future reference! 🙂

    • Limitlesssecrets
      Posted at 00:14h, 09 August Reply

      The calanques are really stunning Roneth! I am sure you would love to see them!

  • Cristina
    Posted at 09:12h, 08 August Reply

    I had never heard of the Calanques, but they look amazing! By looking at your stunning pictures, you really make me want to go visit them in the future 🙂 . Also, I found your packing list and tips very helpful. Thank you for sharing this place.

    • Limitlesssecrets
      Posted at 00:15h, 09 August Reply

      You are most welcome Cristina! The calanques are famous in France but deserve to be known in the whole world as they are amazing!

  • Elina
    Posted at 10:16h, 08 August Reply

    Great post and amazing photos! Thank you for creating this guide! I will have it mind for when I will visit the Calanques!

    • Limitlesssecrets
      Posted at 00:16h, 09 August Reply

      Thank you Elina! I hope you will be able to use it one day!

  • Lucy
    Posted at 10:23h, 08 August Reply

    Great blog! The pictures you’ve used are stunning

    • Limitlesssecrets
      Posted at 00:17h, 09 August Reply

      Thank you for the compliments about my photos and the article Lucy!

  • World of Lina
    Posted at 10:35h, 08 August Reply

    Wow the Calanques are seriously stunning! Never seen such a beautiful blue water before 🙂

    • Limitlesssecrets
      Posted at 00:17h, 09 August Reply

      I was blown away as well when I was there Alina!

  • Rituparna Sengupta
    Posted at 10:45h, 08 August Reply

    Hey Ophélie, such a beautiful place. Stunning photos and pretty good read. I guess one lifetime is not enough to cover the beautiful places on Earth. Stay connected.

    • Limitlesssecrets
      Posted at 00:18h, 09 August Reply

      Ah yes you are right Rituparna, too many beautiful places to see in the world! Thank you!

  • Kriszti
    Posted at 12:43h, 08 August Reply

    Wow the water looks absolutely beautiful there! I’ m so bummed I didn’t know about these Calanques before visiting Marseille and Provence, I would have loved to visit them! Hopefully I will get to do it next time so I just saved your guide for later :☺️

    • Limitlesssecrets
      Posted at 00:19h, 09 August Reply

      I am sure the next time you will go you will be able to enjoy them to the fullest Kriszti!

  • Elena Pappalardo
    Posted at 16:53h, 08 August Reply

    Wow, I honestly didn’t even know that this stunning place existed! I am so glad to have read this post because I will definitely be adding this to my France itinerary. Gorgeous shots, as always!

    • Limitlesssecrets
      Posted at 00:20h, 09 August Reply

      I am so glad to read this Elena! You will love them for sure!

  • Sam
    Posted at 17:07h, 08 August Reply

    Wow! I cant believe I didn’t know about this place! I am adding Calanques to my bucket list for sure and such beautiful photos!

    • Limitlesssecrets
      Posted at 00:23h, 09 August Reply

      Awesome Sam! The calanques are amazing! Thank you 😀

  • Paula Martinelli
    Posted at 18:27h, 08 August Reply

    This place looks unreal – the color of the water is just incredible! I love to see that they also work on conservation and preservation of the environment too. This is just magical and a must-visit place, Thanks for sharing this and let me know about this place, now I need to visit.

    • Limitlesssecrets
      Posted at 11:33h, 09 August Reply

      The calanques are such a gem, I am happy to share them with others Paula!

  • Cosette
    Posted at 19:27h, 08 August Reply

    The Calanques look beautiful. I hadn’t heard of them before. Must visit them, when I’m in France again.

    • Limitlesssecrets
      Posted at 11:34h, 09 August Reply

      I you go to the south of France near Marseille it’s a must Cosette! You will love them!

  • Jasmina
    Posted at 20:21h, 08 August Reply

    Wow, this place looks absolutely stunning! I need to visit one day!

    • Limitlesssecrets
      Posted at 11:35h, 09 August Reply

      I can tell you will be blown away the day you will be able to see the calanques Jasmina!

  • Val
    Posted at 20:55h, 08 August Reply

    Gorgeous pictures Ophelie, they perfectly capture the beauty of the calanques as I remember them after a visit to Cassis a few years back!

    • Limitlesssecrets
      Posted at 11:35h, 09 August Reply

      It’s great that you had the opportunity to visit them too Val! Thank you for the compliment!

  • Or
    Posted at 21:51h, 08 August Reply

    Your photos are just perfect! This is such a great guide (and I wish I was there right now)! Thank you for sharing 🙂

    • Limitlesssecrets
      Posted at 11:36h, 09 August Reply

      Many thanks for your feedback Or! Hopefully you will be able to wander here and enjoy it as well!

  • MacKenzie
    Posted at 00:36h, 09 August Reply

    This post is wonderful, and full of beautiful pictures too! Thank you for such a thorough guide.

    • Limitlesssecrets
      Posted at 11:42h, 09 August Reply

      Thanks a lot for your feedback MacKenzie! I am glad you appreciated reading this article about the beautiful Calanques!

  • Lauren
    Posted at 01:17h, 09 August Reply

    Oh wow, these photos are so breathtaking! I really want to see this place for myself now 🙂

  • Maya
    Posted at 06:00h, 09 August Reply

    Ok I am officially in love with these colors! What a great place to discover, I haven’t heard about it before. These crystal clear views and stunning vistas are just what the doctor ordered 😉 Thanks for helping me discover this hidden gem and the photos are stunning!

  • Barbara - Porty's Diary
    Posted at 14:33h, 09 August Reply

    Wow, this place is so beautiful! Your photos are amazing, by the way! I’m going to save this for the future, that’s for sure. 🙂
    Thanks for sharing such a great post!

    • Limitlesssecrets
      Posted at 22:03h, 13 August Reply

      Thank you very much Barbara! The calanques are amazing and deserve to be seen!

  • Krista
    Posted at 14:43h, 09 August Reply

    I’ve never heard of this location before, but the water looks incredible! Can’t get over how blue it looks.

    • Limitlesssecrets
      Posted at 22:04h, 13 August Reply

      Let me tell you it’s even better in real Krista! The water and the nature are fantastic in the calanques!

  • Taylor K Taverna
    Posted at 15:16h, 09 August Reply

    Wow wow wow! This is definitely going to be my next trip when we can travel in Europe again. Absolutely gorgeous photos!!

    • Limitlesssecrets
      Posted at 22:06h, 13 August Reply

      Amazing Taylor! I will love the calanques for sure, they will be waiting for you!

  • Shay
    Posted at 15:21h, 09 August Reply

    I can’t believe how beautiful this place is, and I’ve never heard of it! Definitely adding this to the bucket list. 🙂

    • Limitlesssecrets
      Posted at 22:08h, 13 August Reply

      The calanques are stunning Shay! I am glad you added them to your bucket-list and I hope you will be able to see them by yourself!

  • emma
    Posted at 16:16h, 09 August Reply

    Wow this is just such stunning place! How have I never heard of it before! I will be looking to visit as soon as we can for sure! <3

    • Limitlesssecrets
      Posted at 22:10h, 13 August Reply

      I am glad I have shared the calanques with you Emma, because I can promise you will enjoy visiting them once you can!

  • Nina Bosken
    Posted at 18:34h, 09 August Reply

    Wow these are beautiful! They remind me of some of the calas on the island of Mallorca in Spain with the rocks and the blue waters. I definitely have to add this to my list of places to visit in France.

    • Limitlesssecrets
      Posted at 22:17h, 13 August Reply

      Awww I have never visited Mallorca but your description is tempting for sure Nina! I hope you can visit the calanques and see their amazing beauty as well!

  • Miriam Menkarius
    Posted at 12:03h, 10 August Reply

    The photos are stunning! I have never heard of this trip before and I learnt a new word! Calanques! Thanks for sharing this article!

    • Limitlesssecrets
      Posted at 22:19h, 13 August Reply

      Thank you Miriam! It’s a beautiful word to learn because it represents such an amazing place!

  • Kelly
    Posted at 07:20h, 11 August Reply

    I can’t believe how tropical and bright it looks there! I have only been to Paris before so the south of France is so high on my list for one day 🙂 Your photos are all beautiful and make me want to visit so badly!

    • Limitlesssecrets
      Posted at 22:23h, 13 August Reply

      The calanques are a gem in south of France Kelly! I hope you will enjoy their beauty one day!

  • Courtney Vondran
    Posted at 01:31h, 15 August Reply

    AH IM OBSESSED! The Calanques look so stunning! Adding it to my list! Your photos are amazing. Thank you for sharing!!

    • Limitlesssecrets
      Posted at 19:34h, 16 August Reply

      The calanques are really outstanding! Thank you for the kind words and I hope you can be amazed there in person Courtney!

  • Talia
    Posted at 23:17h, 29 August Reply

    It does look so beautiful, have hiked there a couple years back and loved it!!! Your photos are incredible

    • Limitlesssecrets
      Posted at 10:46h, 14 September Reply

      I know how much you love hiking Talia, I am not surprised I enjoy being there! Thank you for the compliment!

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