Hiking the Calanques de Cassis the Easy Way

Hiking the Calanques de Cassis proves to be a joyful family activity. These narrow, steep-walled inlets, formed in limestone or dolomite, grace the Mediterranean coast southeast of Marseille. Witness the natural beauty as steep rocks rise from the azure sea, shaped over a million years by wind and rain, creating unique white cliffs that seamlessly blend into the coastal scenery.

Our chosen hiking trail focuses on the Calanque de Port-Miou and the picturesque Calanque de Port Pin, as they are the closest inlets to Cassis and offer the most popular and accessible hikes in the Calanques region.

Hiking the Calanques de Cassis

Arrival at the parking place

Just a short drive from our La Ciotat apartment, we reached the Calanques area effortlessly. Opting for convenience, we parked at the shaded Parking de la Presqu’île on Avenue Notre Dame, securing a whole day’s parking for a fixed fee.

From there, we strolled along Avenue Notre Dame for a few hundred metres before turning into a quaint small street that intersects with Avenue des Calanques. As we reached the end of Avenue des Calanques, we found ourselves at the entrance of the picturesque Calanque de Port-Miou.

At the entrance, a helpful board displayed all the hiking routes and relevant information. Additionally, locals from the tourist office had set up a temporary stall, offering assistance and information to both hikers and visitors alike.

Hiking the Calanques de Cassis

Calanque de Port-Miou

The journey into the Calanque de Port Miou begins at the information board. Renowned as a natural haven for ships, it stands out as the sole Calanque accessible by car and serves as the starting point for the hiking trail leading to the three Calanques.

The setting is truly magnificent! Embraced by a lush pine forest, this area, once a limestone quarry, boasts remarkable length and narrowness, making it an ideal spot for a marina. Today, it thrives as a bustling port for marine transportation.

Navigating the walkway is pleasantly easy. The stark white limestone of the peninsula juxtaposed with the turquoise waters creates a striking contrast. The inlet buzzes with activity, graced by numerous yachts along both edges, infusing the area with a lively atmosphere.

The walk from the parking area to Port-Miou takes a mere 20 minutes. While Calanque de Port-Miou lacks a beach, the nearby Calanque de Port-Pin provides a sandy haven for those seeking a beach experience.

Hiking the Calanques from Cassis

Calanque de Port-Pin

The path becomes notably rocky at this juncture, with certain areas posing a slippery challenge. Nestled amidst pine trees, the Calanque de Port-Pin is the most intimate of the three Calanques in Cassis.

As we approached the small beach, the rocky trail seamlessly transformed into stone stairs leading down to the shore. Although a trail to the Calanque de Port Pin peninsular existed, it was unfortunately closed to the public. Therefore, we continued our descent towards the sea, and after a 30-minute walk, we reached the idyllic Calanque de Port-Pin.

This charming inlet boasts a miniature sandy beach, and depending on the daylight, the water exhibits hues ranging from emerald to turquoise. It proved to be an ideal spot for a refreshing swim, especially in the height of summer, and also offers fantastic opportunities for water sports. Visitors can rent a kayak or boat to explore the Calanques National Park.

After a brief relaxation on the small beach, we tried walking back to Calanque de Port Miou via an alternative trail at a lower level along the inlet. However, a warning sign about the path prompted caution, leading us to retrace our steps along the same track back to Calanque de Port Miou.

Calanque view
Calanque Port Pin

Calanque de En-Vau

Continuing from Calanque de Port-Pin, the trail extends further to Calanque de En-Vau. In conditions less intense than the scorching air at 37 degrees, we might have ventured to reach En-Vau as well.

As indicated by the information board, Calanque de En Vau is touted as the most spectacular and beautiful among the three Calanques. Allocating about 90 minutes for this segment of the trail is recommended.

An easier way to visit the Calanques

In addition to the usual trails, consider alternative ways, especially in the summer. Joining cruise tours offered by various companies is a convenient option. Below, I’ve highlighted some popular choices to enhance your exploration.

Our travel tips

Always ensure you have the latest updates from the local tourist information centre. Weather conditions and other unforeseen situations may lead to the temporary closure of trails.

During scorching summer days, bring an ample supply of water and perhaps a small snack, as there are no facilities to purchase drinks or food along the trail. Additionally, safeguard yourself against sunburn.

Wear suitable shoes and clothing that accommodate various weather conditions, as the path can be rocky and slippery when wet.

Stay vigilant and heed warning signs, as paths may occasionally pose risks or be in precarious situations.

Consider combining your adventure with one of the stunning coastal trails for an enriching day trip.

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