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Visiting the Calanques National Park in France

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The Parc National des Calanques is an area of incredible beauty, diverse landscapes and unique cultural heritage. Located in the South of France, and spanning 20km of coastline between Marseille and Cassis, it’s the only European national park to encompass land, sea and urban areas.

Maybe you’ve already heard of the Calanques de Cassis or Marseille, but you’re not sure where to start with exploring this phenomenal area for yourself…

The aim of this guide is to make your visit to the Calanques National Park less daunting, and more enjoyable.

Read on to find out how to get there, the best hikes and beaches in the Calanques, where to stay, and how to visit the Calanques by boat or car if hiking isn’t suitable for you.

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How to get to the Calanques National Park

There are four main ways to reach the Calanques National Park. You can enter via Cassis, via Les Goudes, near the Luminy University of Marseille, or via Sormiou. I’ll detail each of these options below.

Option 1 – Calanques de Cassis

The most popular way to enter the Calanques park is via the seaside town of Cassis. A stunning destination in itself, Cassis is a historical fishing village surrounded by vineyards, beaches and olive groves.

Cassis Port, France

It’s also the hop-off point for the famous Calanques de Cassis hike which takes in Port Miou, Port Pin, and Calanque d’En Vau.

To get to the Calanques from Cassis, you can walk directly from the village to the first calanque, Port Miou. Or you can drive to Parking de la Presqu’île and start the hike from there.

Option 2 – Les Goudes

The small village of Les Goudes is known as the end of the world, because that’s what it feels like as you leave the bustling city of Marseille behind and drive along the sublime coast to Cap Croisette. But don’t be fooled, because the National Park awaits just around the corner.

Leave your car at the hilltop car park behind the village, or proceed further around the coast to Calanque de Callelongue. Just be aware that parking is limited from that point onwards.

From the Callelongue calanque, you can follow the marked trail to Calanque de Marseilleveyre, Calanque de Queyrons, and Calanque de Podestat.

Option 3 – Luminy University

If you’re planning on hiking to Calanque de Morgiou or Calanque de Sugiton, park at the car park near the Luminy University and follow the marked tracks from the end of Avenue de Luminy.

You can also take the bus to this starting off point for your calanques hike. Simply take the 21 bus towards Luminy at the Castellane bus station on Avenue du Prado.

Do note, that if you’re visiting Morgiou in the winter, you can also drive directly to the calanque from Les Baumettes.

Option 4 – Sormiou

If visiting the Marseille calanques in winter, you can drive directly down to Calanque de Sormiou from the suburb of the same name.

At other times of the year, you’ll need to leave your vehicle in the car park just before the gates, and proceed by foot. One way to get around this restriction though, is to make a booking at Le Chateau – a restaurant within the calanque with a beautiful terrace.

When making your booking, you can give them your license plate number and you’ll be granted access to drive down into the cove.

Best Hikes in the Calanques National Park

There are a lot of hiking trails that crisscross the National Park, some of them merging into one, before splitting off again. Most of the tracks are clearly marked, but it does pay to have an idea of where you’re going before you set out, so you’ll know if you veer off track.

After weaving my way throughout the park over the years, the following trails are my favourites. Obviously for their amazing scenery, but also because they’re doable in a half-day, child (but not necessarily toddler) friendly, and don’t require any specialist skills or equipment!

Hiking the Calanques de Cassis

The most popular day hike in the Calanques National Park, the Calanques de Cassis trail starts nearby Port Miou and continues around the coast to Port Pin.

Port Pin is a beautiful swimming beach, and where many locals go for a summer outing. From here, you can continue up a steep track to the lookout point over Calanque d’En Vau, which is absolutely breathtaking – and one of the most impressive sights in the Calanques National Park (see below).

From this point, you can continue down to the Calanque d’En Vau beach via a steep rocky path, or continue inland to finish the loop track back to Cassis.

The entire loop takes about 2.5-3 hours to complete at a relaxed pace. Allow around an hour longer to make the descent down to Calanque d’En Vau (and longer if you want to stop for a dip!).

Read more about this hike here: Hiking the Calanques de Cassis; and Hiking to Calanque d’En Vau

Hiking to Calanque de Sugiton

From the car park near Luminy University the track down to Calanque de Sugiton is an absolute joy. Although it starts fairly flat and uneventful, the trees soon clear to reveal an incredible vista.

From the Col de Sugiton, you can venture up to the Belvedere de Sugiton to enjoy the view to its fullest, or bypass this detour and continue straight down to the calanque.

The last leg of the track is a little steep and tricky if travelling with young children, but it’s completely manageable. Once you draw near to the coast, you’ll see Sugiton beach to your left. Unfortunately, it remains cordoned off after a fatal accident occurred involving falling rocks.


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