Hiking the Cassis Calanques is a must-do activity if you enjoy spending time in nature. The hike takes you through the rugged coastal terrain between Cassis and Marseille and offers some spectacular views of the Mediterranean Sea and the rocky Mediterranean “fjords”.
The Cassis Calanques are a series of about 20 inlets, but the most famous ones are Calanque de Port Miou, Calanque de Port Pin and Calanque d’En-Vau. All three of them can be accessed by foot from Cassis and are part of the Calanques National Park.
A few facts about Calanques National Park
– The Calanques were formed 120 million years ago
– To the west of Cassis, the Massif des Calanques consists of white limestone going done more than 400 meters.
– The parks heartland covers 8,500 hectares and three districts (Marseille, Cassis and La Ciotat).
– The park is visited by 2 million people every year.
– It is the only National Park in Europe that is terrestrial, marine and peri-urban.
The starting point: Port Miou
Port Miou is the closest to Cassis and can be reached without breaking too much of a sweat. If you bring kids, we recommend you park where we did – at a car park close to Port Miou – it’s located at the end of Avenue Notre Dame and costs 8 Euros for a full day.
Before you go:
- The best time to do the hike is early in the day. It’s easier to find a parking space and the heat won’t discourage you before you even get started
- Bring snacks and lots of water. There is a small shop at Port Miou where the hike starts, but that’s it.
- Remember sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses. The sun takes no prisoners.
- I did the hike from Port Miou to Port Pin in flipflops, but I won’t recommend it. The steps can be really slippery. And if you want to continue on to Calanque d’En-Vau you need some sturdy shoes or hiking boots.
- THIS IS IMPORTANT: From 1st June to 30th access to the massifs is regulated according to the weather conditions. This means you have to check this website: Access to the Cassis Calanques, to see if there are any restrictions before you head out. You can also call 0811 20 13 13 – the information is in both French and English.
The actual hike starts at Port Miou, but it’ll take you about 15 minutes to walk from the car park to Port Miou. On the way to the starting point, you have a great view of Port Miou and the many sailboats bobbing up and down in the turquoise water. It’s beautiful, but nothing compared to Port Pin.
The trail to Port Pin
The trail to Calanque Port Pin is wide and even at first, but it gets more and more difficult the closer you get to the inlet. The hike is about 2 km. and at the end of it, a beautiful beach hidden behind pine trees awaits you.
The very last part of the trail is pretty steep, but it’s manageable – even in flipflops. The beach is made of pebbles/semi-big rocks so you want to keep your shoes on or walk very slowly when you want to go for a swim. Once you’re in the water, the stones are replaced by soft sand.
Our children (aged 8 and 10) had no problem doing the hike from Port Miou to Port Pin, but we started out around 11:00, which is just too late. The sun was already high in the sky and beating down on us with full force, so we decided to spend some time at the beach before heading back to the car. Soooo – no Calanque d’En-Vau for us this time around. I guess that just means we’ll have to come back.