Hiking in Calanques National Park
Exploring the best Calanques
Hiking in the Calanques National Park in southern France is one of the most beautiful and impressive things that you can see when you travel to Marseille.
The Park is famous for its narrow inlets that reminds us to the fjords for its shape but with a very different vegetation.
It’s without doubt the best place for hiking on the south coast of France and good as well for sunbathing or kayaking. The mix between the beautiful beaches, cliffs and the steep mountains makes this small paradise unique in the world.
The trails in Calanques are marked with different colours, red, yellow, green, blue and black and si possible to find maps on the starting points of the hike showing the hiking map of the area with the trails that are marked.
Despite of being at a very low altidute, hiking in Calanques can be challenging due to the ororgraphy, the stony paths and in Marseilleveyre massif there are some places where the trails pass by exposed but easy climbing parts.
National Park overview
A very important thing to know is that between June 1st and September 30th, entrance in the calanques is regulated. During summmer the park is often closed even for hikers. The only way to explore the Calanques is discovering the region by boat or kayak instead of walking.
Marseille and Cassis are the two main starting points for the excursions to the different inlets. If you are staying in Marseille, it will be easier for you to explore the western area. Marseilleveyre, Pas de la demi-lune, Sormiou, Morgiou, Sugiton and other small calanques are very close from you.
If you are staying in Cassis will be easier to acces to Port Pin, d’En-Vau, Cap de l’Aigle and all the coast from Cassis to la Ciotat.
How to get to Parc national des Calanques
Parking in Cassis or in Parkings where the hikes start is almost impossible from May to September. These parking lots are really busy and to park there is probably frustrating. In Cassis there are no free parkings during the day and a good option is Les Gorguettes. From there there is a bus running to Cassis
Getting to the starting points with public transport is possible thanks to the Marseille buses. For example, is possible to get to Les Goudes, and to the access to Pas de la Demi Lune with the bus 19 and 20.
For arriving to the parking of Les Baumettes from where starts the trails to Sormiou and Morgiou. There are as well busses that runs from Marseille tp Cassis so all the connections are done with public transport.
When to go
The hiking season in Calanques is from October to late May. From the 1st of June to 30th September the park is closed to car traffic and it’s often closed for hikers due to the extreme risk of fire. You can check out the risk in the official website of Calanques
For us, the perfect moment to visit Calanques is in October, when the water is still warm enough and the weather is still nice. Other options are in April or May when the weather is perfect but the water will be around 16º-18ºC
How to get accomodation
Setting up a tent in the National park of Calanques is completely forbidden but there are smll shelters where is possible to overnight. These shelters are literally 4 walls and a roof and there’s no facilities.
Staying in Cassis can be very expensive during all year but there are cheaper options in Marseille and in La Ciotat. Another option is to register through this link on Airbnb and check the best options to stay in Marseille, La Ciotat or Cassis.
Best most beautiful spots of the Calanques
1. Calanque d’En-Vau
Calanque d’En Vau is without any doubt the most beautiful Calanque and the most beautiful beach of the south of France. Many films were recorded in this amazing inlet between cliffs and with maravelous colours of the water.
2. Calanque de Sormiou
Located near Marseille, Calanque de Sormiou is one of the most visited Calanque due to the proximity with the city. The blue colours of the water and the typical landscape of Calanques make this place very special.
3. Calanque de Port Pin
This Calanque is fantastic for swimming and sunbathing when in Calanque d’En-Vau is cold and in the shade. The end of this calanque the water is gorgeous and many times is more quiet than the most famous calanque.
4 Calanque de Marseilleveyre
Calanque de Marseilleveyre is a small beach where is only possible to get by foot or by boat. It’s one of the most quiet Calanques near Marseille. Furthermore, it’s possible to do the hike of Pas de la Demi-Lune that is considered one of the best hiking and climbing spots of Calanques.
5. Cassis beach
The beach of Cassis it’s actually pretty nice and has nothing to envy to other Calanques. It has a really beautiful turquoise water and has very nice views of Cap Cànàille, another part of the National Park that you should not miss.
Best trails of Calanques
The National Park of Calanques is itself a paradise for experienced hikers. It’s terrain makes that a hike of 4km can take even more than 2 hours due to the difficulty of the path, elevation gained and the exposed areas.
To sum up, the best trails of Calanques are in Marseilleveyre Massif and there are as well beautiful trails that goes really close to the sea near the Calanque of d’En-Vau. The 2 main attractions when hiking in Calanques are the landscape with cliffs, big walls and steep tarrains really close to the sea that give you a magic sea view and the beauty of the inlets and beaches.
Without any doubt, climbing up to Marseilleveyre, doing the loop trail between Calanque de Sormiou and Calanque de Morgiou and going to the top of Pass de la Demi-lune are the must hiked in Calanques.