Discovering the 'Calanques'
The 'Calanques' – a life-size picture postcard
You don't need to go far to find paradise – it's right here at the gateway to Marseille! A wild setting, dotted with little ports, little coves, little islands, little beaches and little cottages… the vistas are simply stunning. Our 'Calanques' are world-unique and the cicadas know it: when summer comes around they chirp to their heart's content to celebrate the view! And the show is just as breathtaking whether you admire the fjords from the sea or the coast.
'En Vau', 'Sormiou', 'Morgiou' ... Little heaven !
Bath in the clear water of the Calanques
When you talk about the 'Calanques', you're bound to think of the 'Calanques National Park' – a protected site since 2012. In short, the National Park stretches from the tip of Marseille to a section of Cape Canaille in Cassis, via Riou archipelago.
But the fjords adorning La Ciotat and the Côte Bleue coast are just as fabulous.
The 'Calanques' offer up a rainbow of colours that vary according to the season and where you're standing, with contrasted greens, blues, turquoise and white. So we often wonder what's the best side to see the 'Calanques' from? I'd say it depends on the individual and the season. Personally, I prefer the view from the coast with the sea as the backdrop. I also love 'doing the Calanques' outside peak season, when it's cooler and they're a bit quieter. But of course, they're great in summer if you fancy bathing in their crystal-clear waters, although their access is strictly-regulated and they are closed off from time to time in case of fire risks. In that case, a boat tour is your only alternative: you can hop on at the ports of Marseille, Cassis or La Ciotat.
The cliffs are truly impressive seen from a boat. If you're on land, they offer a fabulous choice of walking itineraries: the best-known and most popular are those departing from Port Miou calanque in Cassis and the Luminy campus in Marseille. I recommend the ¾-hour walk from the Luminy car park leading to the viewpoint and its breathtaking panoramas.
Watch out though – whichever path you choose it's always preferable to be on form, wear sensible shoes and remember that your legs may be tired on the way home :)
The 'Calanques' are reputed for their charming little fishermen's cottages, overflowing with rustic charm.
Fancy buying one up and savouring Marseille's legendary lifestyle? Dream on… these little corners of paradise aren't easy to rent and have often been in the same family for generations.
The 'Calanques' are also a fabulous leisure playground, with activities including chilling out (yes, that is an activity here), picnicking, walking and snorkelling to admire the underwater flora and fauna. Rock climbing fans have a blast edging up the dizzy cliff faces. You can also opt for a dive onto one of the ancient wrecks found in the area, or simply enjoy a swim among the se bream, red mullet and – so they say – dolphins!
Our beautiful 'Calanques' must stay that way, despite being a very popular sightseeing attraction.
Check out the National Park's official website for the rules and regulations.
Oh yes – a tip if the 'Calanques' are closed to the public: go and eat at a restaurant! The security guards will let you through in some places, but they'll also check to see if you've really booked!
There's no point looking at your watch here, because time stands still…
Things to do
La Ciotat, Cassis, Marseille
The Calanques (rocky coves) along the coast between Marseille and Cassis are of exceptional beauty by their striking relief, their scale and their white rocks. For more than twenty kilometres, the limestone cuts into the coastline, giving Marseille a splendid natural monument. Nibbled away by…