Whether you are a hiking aficionado, an avid swimmer, an amateur of underwater diving or simply a fan of breathtaking scenery, treat yourself with a relaxing getaway in the breathtaking Calanques (coves) of Cassis!
Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur is undoubtedly one of France’s most beautiful regions. Blessed with breathtaking natural surroundings and exuding an authentic atmosphere, it stretches out in the sun, gently rocked by the Mediterranean Sea. If you’re in the area, discover the world-famous Calanques of Cassis, one of Provence’s most beautiful scenery. What locals refer to as “Calanques” are inlets surrounded by steep rocky promontories. Treat yourself to gentle hours of idleness or swim in on
e of many idyllic hidden coves, at the world’s end. Before you make your way amongst the singing cicadas towards the Calanques of Cassis, read this essential guide!
Calanques National Park
Opened in 2012, Calanques National Park is one of France’s ten national parks, welcoming almost 2 million visitors per year. Located in the heart of Aix-Marseille Provence Metropolis, the Park has the particularity of extending over both land and sea territory. Visit this world-famous national Park, and discover its exceptional natural scenery, its towering limestone cliffs, its sea as far as the eye can see, and its unique fauna and flora.
There are no less than 26 Calanques in the National Park of the same name, which extends over 20 km, between Marseille and Cassis. Boasting a rich plant and animal life, whether underwater or on the rocky coast itself, the Calanques invite you to explore and discover.
The creeks of Cassis
“QU’A VIST PARIS E NOUN CASSIS A REN VIST.” (“Whoever saw Paris but not Cassis, didn’t see anything”) said the French writer Frédéric Mistral.
Located about 20 km from Marseille, Cassis is a pretty and very touristy town with about 8,000 inhabitants. Nestled between two amazing natural sites, Cap Canaille, and the famous Calanques massif, this small provençal fishing port is a definite must-see.
Arguably the most impressive coves in the region, the Calanques of Cassis are also, surprisingly, the most accessible! The famous three Calanques of Cassis are Port Miou, Port Pin, and En-Vau.
The Calanque of Port Miou
A former limestone quarry, the Calanque of Port Miou is now a natural marina hosting more than 600 boats: an excellent spot for sailboat fans. It is the most accessible of the three. However, due to the high number of boats and the absence of a beach, this cove is not an ideal place for swimming.
The Calanque of Port Pin
Located 2 kilometers from Port Miou, the Calanque of Port Pin is just a short walk away (35-minute walk). This idyllic cove, blessed with a beautiful sandy beach and turquoise waters, is an ideal place to swim and relax!
The Calanque of En-Vau
From Port-Miou, allow a good hour’s walk to reach the Calanque d’En-Vau, which is probably the most beautiful of the three. Once there, you won’t want to leave this breathtaking landscape!
Visit the Calanques of Cassis by foot
The Calanques National Park links Marseille to Cassis across nearly 20 km of marked trails. It is, therefore, a privileged place for hiking enthusiasts or visitors who want to enjoy a walk with family or friends.
The famous three Calanques of Cassis are accessible by foot: it will take you about an hour and a half to walk from Port Miou to En-Vau (approximately 12 km).
From Cassis, you can easily access the Calanque of Port-Miou in about 35 minutes. The path is simple and marked out. You can’t miss it! From Port Miou, hike your way along the GR 98 trail. You will first reach the Calanques of Port-pin (2km – 30/40 min) before ending the hike at En-vau (3.5km – 1h30). Be aware that the path between Port Pin and En Vau is steep, stony and sometimes slippery and therefore recommended for experienced hikers.
Visit the Calanques of Cassis by boat
Why not visit the Calanques of Cassis by boat? An opportunity to discover the beautiful coves from a whole new perspective. From the sea, it is a different sight than from the cliffs, but just as magnificent.
From the port of Cassis, visiting boats can help you discover the three creeks mentioned above. You can buy your tickets directly at the port, 1/2 hour before the indicated departures, at the boarding (yellow kiosk) or from the captains out of season.
A boat ride to visit the three coves (Port Miou > Port Pin > En Vau) lasts around 45 minutes. The trip costs €16 per adult, €9,50 per child (4 to 10 years old) and €1 for babies (0 to 3 years old).
Note that there are guided tours of Cassis that include a mini cruise along the coves. More information about these guided tours.
You also have the option of renting a boat to explore the coves at your own pace! Many agencies and websites offer motorboat or sailboat rentals from Cassis.
The Calanques of Cassis: tips and practical information
Before you visit the Calanques of Cassis, here are a few tips and things you should know about this unique place:
- Calanques National Park is sometimes closed during the summer due to the high risk of fire. Check with the Cassis Tourism Office to find out if the Park is accessible or not.
- Some parts of the trails can be slippery, difficult, and even dangerous! Remember to wear suitable shoes and be sure you find out before you leave about the difficulty of the itinerary you have chosen.
- Also, remember to bring water and to protect yourself from the sun (hat, sunglasses, sunscreen), as there is very little shade on the trails.
- Finally, bring a mask and snorkel if you can; the perfect companion to enjoy the Calanques’ azure waters and observe the magnificent sea bed!
Visit the Calanques of Cassis to enjoy a breath of fresh air in the sunshine, and discover the breathtaking beauty of these convoluted, pine-strewn promontories jutting out into pristine, turquoise waters.
Where to stay in Cassis and its surroundings?
Though Cassis is a relatively small town (7,500 inhabitants all year round), it attracts many tourists in the summer season, with its population rising to about 40,000 inhabitants. During this time of the year, accommodation offers are difficult to find. However, finding a place to stay in or around Cassis is relatively easy if you take the time to book in advance.
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