Route des Crêtes, a Clifftop Coastal Road between La Ciotat and Cassis

Route des Crêtes, located in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region in southern France, is one of the scenic trails on the French Riveria. Being one of the steepest roads of the country, Route des Cretes has parts up to 30% and climbs up to an elevation of 380 meters above the sea level.

Calanques; Cassis; Day Trip from Marseille

Where the route starts and ends

The clifftop drive starts from La Ciotat, the place where we stayed during the two-week southern France trip, and ends in Cassis. Route des Crêtes is 13km long and is famous for its cliffs and the sheltered inlets called Calanques. This challenging road links Cassis and La Ciotat along the Mediterranean Sea south-east of Marseille.

The major viewpoints

Parking is available near each viewpoint along the Route des Cretes. Visitors can also walk along the footpath that follows the cliffs to have more views. We have stopped at four places and had remarkable views across the Bay of La Ciotat, Les Calanques de Cassis, rocks, and of course, the Mediterranean coastal view.

Cassis: Calanques: Route des Crêtes, a Clifftop Coastal Road between La Ciotat and Cassis
Route des Crêtes, Steep Rock Face

1st viewpoint – Semaphore du Bec de I’Aigle

Semaphore du Bec de I’Aigle is the viewpoint near La Ciotat. It is located at the very west of la Ciotat bay, next to Ile Verte. From la Ciotat, it looks like a round mass. However, we weren’t able to access it on that day since it was closed for an unknown reason.

2ed viewpoint – Parking Du Belvedre

From this viewpoint, I had a remarkable view across the bay of La Ciotat. Part of Calanques de Cassis is also visible. The city of Cassis was more in sight.

3rd viewpoint – Falaises Soubeyranes

At this viewpoint, the vista changes. Not far from where we stood is the Cap Canaille, the highest rock on the Route des Cretes. Visitors can walk to the highest rock Cap Canaille via a small path. The sun was so intense on the top of the cliffs in the middle of the day. And, with an air temperature of 36°C, we gave up the idea to walk up there.

4th viewpoint – Falaises de Cassis

We walked along the footpath that follows the cliffs to have more views. On both sides of the viewpoint, we could have different views of the steep rock face. From this viewpoint. it is much easy to spot the three Calanques and the Bay of Cassis.

Route des Crêtes; Day Trip from Marseille; Scenic coastal drive; Southern France
Route des Crêtes; Scenic coastal drive; Southern France
Calanques; Scenic coastal drive; Southern France
Calanques; Scenic coastal drive; Southern France

Our travel tips

We did this scenic drive on the way to Aix-en-Provence. You could also combine with other activities, such as the trip from Marseille would include such as the scenic crest road and a visit to the ancient fishing port of Cassis.

In the high summer, the sun is harsh in the middle of the day. It’s better to go along this route in the early morning or at dusk when the temperature is milder and the light softer.

The road is not so challenging but does have many sharp bends. At some places, we were driving quite close to cliffs, while some local drivers pushed us relentlessly with over speed. So be aware of the road situation.

Wear proper shoes to walk along the rugged footpath that follows the cliffs to have more views. 

There are several other routes called ‘Route des Cretes’ in France, for example, the  one on the northern rim of the Gorges du Verdon, also in Provence. Make sure you navigate to the right one referred in this article. 

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