If you are tired of the traditional urban tourism trip and fancy a relaxed and unusual getaway, we present the gem of Marseille: les Calanques. Known for their amazing landscapes, the twenty kilometres of small coves are the perfect destination for mountaineering or enjoying a relaxed swim in an idyllic setting. Hop on one of our AVE (high-speed) International trains travelling to France and discover the secrets of this natural park, which is less than 5 hours away from Barcelona.
Rising on the coast between Cassis and Marseille, these small coves form a succession of white limestone cliffs that plunge into the turquoise water, one of the steepest natural landscapes in the Mediterranean.
It can be accessed in different ways, either by car or on the bus from the city centre, as well as by taking a guided tour on foot, by canoe or by boat. However, keep in mind that there are certain restrictions on access by private vehicle and traffic is highly regulated.
Here is our proposal for this unforgettable getaway from east to west of the Côte d'Azur.
The route starts at Cassis, a picturesque fishing port on the Côte d'Azur, which stands out for the colour of its houses and boats, its landscapes full of vineyards and its coastal gastronomy. This village, at the foot of Cap Canaille, the highest cliff in Europe, is one of the best kept secrets of the Mediterranean, known for its wine and the best views of the Côte d'Azur.
Port of Cassis
While heading to Marseille, the first calanque you will find is the one in Port Miou, the best known and largest, with steep walls that go a kilometre and a half towards the coast. Further on, you will cross Port Pin, known for the emerald-like waters and behind which the wild calanques extend in their greatest splendour.
One of the best known and valued by climbers is the sublime calanque d'En-Vau, with white sand beaches and crystal clear water, leading to Cave du Diable, an impressive cave carved by the waves. Not far away is Castelviel, a plateau of limestone ridges that offers spectacular views from the sea, behind which the 460 metre high cliffs of Grande Candelle emerge.
The dizzying Calanque du Devenson will soon be within sight. The route ends at the Glass Eye, a powerful rock excavated at the top of the wall that has become an impetuous natural lighthouse for its limestone reflections.
Guided by the sea breeze and the perfume of the pine forest, you will reach the calanques of Morgiou, Sormiou and les Goudes; inhabited by small cabins where Marseille fishermen live and work and which often become improvised restaurants where you can taste a good dish of sardines; which makes this last stop of the wild Calanques massif ideal before you reach Marseille's first port.
Despite their incredible views, you must bear in mind that this wonderful route of Calanques has trails and stone paths and a very changing weather. That is why we recommend you bring the right equipment – rucksack, footwear, water and protection against wind, sun, rain and cold – so as not to suffer any unforeseen events.
We recommend you go during the spring-summer season, especially in the late afternoon – from 5 to 8 – when the almost empty beaches are quite a site to see.
If after this unprecedented excursion you have become even more eager to discover what the second largest city in France has to offer, you can check Marseille's 10 must-see places.
And if you want to continue surrounding yourself in the purest French style, you can visit many other cities connected by our AVE (high-speed) International trains travelling between Spain and France, which take you from city centre to city centre: Perpignan, Narbonne, Béziers, Montpellier, Nimes, Avignon, Aix-en-Provence, Valence or Lyon. Choose how you want to travel, we will provide you with the destinations and means of transport.
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