Hiking the Calanques de Cassis is a pleasant family activity. A Calanque is a narrow, steep-walled inlet developed in limestone or dolomite. Calanques in this post refers to the ones found along the Mediterranean coast South-east of Marseille.
The natural inlets are surrounded by steep rocks rising out of the sea. Shaped by wind and rain over a million years, the white cliffs have become a unique part of the coastal scenery.
Three Calanques near Cassis are Calanque de Port-Miou, Calanque de Port Pin, and Calanque de En-Vau. Our hiking trail includes the Calanque de Port-Miou and Calanque de Port Pin, because they are the two closest inlets to Cassis and are the most popular accessible hikes in the Calanques region.
Arrival at the parking place
It was only a short drive from our apartment in La Ciotat the Calanques area. The easiest way is to park at the Parking de la Presqu’île at Avenue Notre Dame, a parking place sheltered by trees. We paid a fixed amount for the whole day.
Then, following the Avenue Notre Dame and walked a few hundred metres, and we turned into a small street. The street hits the Avenue des Calanques. At the end of the Avenue des Calanques, it is the entrance of the Calanque de Port-Miou.
At the entrance, there is also a board showing all hiking routes and related information. Some people from the local tourist office had set up a temporary stall to provide helps to hikers and visitors.
Calanque de Port-Miou
The Calanque de Port Miou starts from the information board. It is a natural shelter for ships. It is the only Calanque accessible by car and is the starting point for the hiking trail of the three Calanques.
The place is magnificent! Surrounded by a magnificent pine forest, this place was a former limestone quarry. It is very long and narrow. Therefore, the port was suitable to become a marina. Now, it serves as a port for marine transportation.
The walkway is quite easy. The white limestone of the peninsula and turquoise waters form a stunning contrast. Many yachts were along both fringes of the inlet, making the area very lively.
It only takes 20 minutes from the parking place to the Port-Miou. Calanque de Port-Miou does not have a beach, but Calanque de Port-Pin has.
Calanque de Port-Pin
The path gets very rocky at this part. Some places were very slippery. The Calanque de Port-Pin is the most intimate of the three Calanques of Cassis, surrounded by the pine trees.
Shortly before we reached the small beach, the rocky trail turns to be stone stairs that go down to the beach. There was a trail to the Calanque de Port Pin peninsular. However, the area was closed to the public. So, we followed the path descending toward the sea. After a 30-minute walk, we finally arrived at the Calanque de Port-Pin.
The small inlet boasts a mini sand beach. Depending on the daylight, the water here has emerald or turquoise colour. It was a perfect place for swimming after hiking in the high summer. This area is also super for water sports. Visitors can rent a kayak or boat to discover the Calanques National Park.
After short relaxation at the small beach, we tried to walk back to the Calanque de Port Miou via another trail at a lower level along the inlet. But there was warning information about the path. So, we walked the same track back to the Calanque de Port Miou.
Calanque de En-Vau
From Calanque de Port-Pin, the trail continues to Calanque de En-Vau. Without the intensive heat and an air temperature of 37 degrees, we would have reached En-Vau as well.
According to the information board, Calanque de En Vau is the most spectacular and beautiful of the three Calanques. It takes up to 90 minutes to complete this part of the trail. There is also a little beach at the end to reward you for your efforts.
A much easier way to visit the Calanques
There are alternative ways to visit the Calanques, especially during the summer months, you can join cruise tours operated by some companies. I have picked some popular choices below.
Our travel tips
Always check the updated information from the local tourist information centre. Due to the weather condition and other harmful situations, the trail could be close to the public.
On the hot summer days, bring enough water and maybe a small snack with you. There is no place to buy any drinks or food. You should protect yourself from sunburn.
Wear proper shoes and cloths for all weather conditions. The path is rocky and could be slippery when it is wet.
Be aware of the warning signs. Sometimes paths could be in dangerous situations.