The Calanques

The Calanques is a small massif along the French Riviera, between Marseille and Cassis, barely 20 km long and 3 km wide. The highest point of the Calanques is Mont Puget (565 m).

A calanque is a deeply carved valley, with steep walls, rising from the blue water. It consists mainly of hard white limestone. The limestone is porous. The water seeps through it quickly, leaving little room for vegetation.

 

Hiking in the Calanques

There are a variety of trails through the Calanques. The GR51 (also referred to as the GR 98) runs from Marseille to Cassis along the coast. The total length is about 20 kilometers long and by its difficulty rather too long for a day trip. However, there are several options to split it into pieces.

  • A first exploration of the Calanques can be made on the Presqu'ile in Cassis, with the walk of Le Petit Prince  (1 on the map above).
     
  • Still from Cassis you can also make the walk of the 3 Calanques : Port-Miou , Port-Pin and En Vau. Of this walk you find a detailed description on our site elsewhere (2 on the map above).
     
  • The Calanque the Sugiton is accessible from Luminy, where an industrial college is located. You can park the car easily. The walk to the Calanques takes about an hour (3 on the map above).

    From the Calanque Sugiton you can continue to follow on the GR51 (in one or both directions)
     
  • The Calanque de Sormiou (4 on the map) is accessible by car, although in many places the road is really narrow and winding - definitely not recommended in high season. There are also some houses. The road to it is a “col” from where you have a view (weather permitting) on the Calanque de Sormiou on the south side and on Marseille on the north side.

    Unfortunately, we can only give an image of the south side on a rainy day.
     
  • The Calanque de Morgiou has also a limited access for cars (we did not check this).

The area of the Calanques is managed by the Office National des fôrets. During the summer, the area can be closed because of the fire hazard. One site reports that in 2006 the historic hiking trails through the area apparently were destroyed because they became too dangerous. On our walks (in April) however, we didn’t encounter any problem. There was only one indication that the GR51 was interrupted in one place, but with an alternative route.

If you prefer not to walk, you choose for a boat trip along the Calanques. In the port of Cassis you can choose a tour of either 3, 5 or 8 Calanques.