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How to Visit Calanques National Park in Marseille and Cassis, France

Calanques National Park is a protected area along the Mediterranean coast in the Bouches-du-Rhône department of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur in Southern France

Stretching between Marseille and La Ciotat, west of the French Riviera, Parc national des Calanques is the recreational backyard of France’s second largest city. 

This spectacular stretch of French coastline is defined by soaring, bone-white limestone cliffs, deeply-carved inlets known as Calanques, and unique flora and fauna. There are 26 calanques in the national park, most of which are only accessible by foot, or by boat.

To say this corner of France is beautiful is a gross understatement. It is miraculous: a natural wonder that hypnotizes and demands adoration. 

Calanques National Park is etched with excellent, albeit rugged, hiking trails that are well-marked and well-kept. Those that don’t want to hike, can explore the park by boat from Marseille, or from Cassis. 

We visited Marseille in May with the sole intention of hiking in Calanques National Park. We used public transit to get around and navigate to and from the park. Here’s everything we learned. 

Calanque de Morgiou beach, Calanques National Park, France

Calanques National Park Map

How to use this map | Click on the trails and icons to display further information. The green line signifies the Calanques National Park boundary.

When to Visit Calanques National Park

Calanque de Morgiou, Calanques National Park, France

Calanques National Park is best explored between October and May, when temperatures are mild.

Between June 1st and September 30th, access to the Calanques National Park is highly regulated due to high risk of fire. 

During this timeframe, all car traffic is closed and pedestrian traffic may be restricted depending on fire risk, wind, and other weather conditions. 

Every day, authorities assess fire risk and determine whether the park will be open the following day. 

To find out if Calanques National Park is open, download the official Calanques National Park mobile app (Apple / Google Play) for live updates and alerts.

You can also consult this map. Red signifies that vehicle and pedestrian access by land is unauthorized. Boat tours are permitted, but landing is strictly forbidden. 

Calanques National Park Entrance Fees and Reservations

Calanque de Sugiton, Calanques, France

There is no entrance fee to visit Calanques National Park. 

In high season (June – September), access to Calanques de Sugiton and Pierres Tombées is only permitted by making a free reservation in advance

How to Get to Calanques National Park

Public Transit 

Bus 22 to Les Baumettes, Marseille, France

The best hikes in Calanques National Park are point-to-point, which means that it’s ideal to travel to and from the park with public transit. 

A car will only hinder your exploration. 

We stayed in Marseille 7 nights and traveled with transit to and from all the major trailheads in Calanques National Park, including Cassis, Luminy PN des Calanques, Les Baumettes, and Les Goudes. 

Marseille public transit is easy-to-navigate, reliable, economical, and synced with Google Maps. We were exceedingly happy to travel without a car for this particular trip. 

Here are the main Marseille bus lines leading to Calanques National Park. 

Bus B1 | Castellane to Luminy PN des Calanques. Take B1 to Luminy in order to hike to Belvédère de Sugiton, Calanque de Sugiton, and Calanque de Morgiou

M2/B1 + Bus 22 | Castellane – Rond Point du Prado – Les Baumettes. Take Bus 22 to hike to Calanque de Sormiou and onwards to Les Goudes

Bus 19 + Bus 20 | Castellane – Madrague de Montredon – Les Goudes. Take Bus 19, followed by the shuttle Bus 20, to travel to Les Goudes.

Bus 78 | Castellane to Cassis (Bus stop Gendarmerie). Cassis is the starting point for hikes to Calanque de Port-Pin and Calanque d’en Vau. We also hiked from Cassis to the Devenson Cliffs and Luminy, largely following the GR 98. 

Note | In Marseille, most transit journeys to Calanques National Park start in Castellane. When we stayed in Vieux-Port, we took the Metro (M1) to Castellane. When we stayed in Le M Hôtel in the Quartier des Antiquaires, we walked to Castellane. 

RTM 7-Day Transit Pass

If you’re staying in Marseille for several days, we recommend getting a RTM 7-Day Pass (Pass 7 jours Pour tous), which only costs 15.50 EUR per person, and gives you unlimited access to RTM transit in the blue zone. It also includes bus 78 to/from Cassis.

In order to purchase this transit pass, you must first obtain a La Carte RTM card at a RTM reception desk. 

You need a passport photo and proof of identity (passport) to create this transit card. After procuring the card, you can load it with the 7-day pass. 

Kayak / SUP 

Starting in Marseille, this small group (up to 10 people) guided sea kayaking tour leads kayakers to the Calanques. 

Starting in Callelongue near Les Goudes, this guided Calanques National Park SUP Tour explores the area around île Maïre island.

Starting in Cassis, ExpéNATURE offers a sea kayaking tour to explore the seascapes of the Cassis Calanques and MARSEILLE CALANQUES PASSION offers a Cassis: Calanques National Park Standup Paddleboarding Tour.

Sail / Cruise Boats

Starting in Marseille, you can sail to the Calanques National Park aboard the Alliance Schooner, built in 1949, or join this Calanques: Full-Day Sailing Tour

Starting in the Old Port of Marseille, this Calanques National Park Eco Boat Cruise with lunch included explores the coast of Calanques National Park.

The Most Beautiful Calanques in Calanques National Park 

A calanque is a narrow, steep-walled inlet along the Mediterranean coast. These fjord-shaped coves are flanked by limestone cliffs, bearing Aleppo pines, kermes oak, rosemary, myrtle, and sandwort. 

Visitors can access the calanques by foot, or by boat. Some calanques are reachable by car at certain times of the year. In total, there are 26 calanques between Marseille and Cassis. 

The most beautiful calanques in Calanques National Park are Calanque d’En-vau, Calanque de Sugiton, Calanque de Morgiou, and Calanque de Sormiou.

Calanque d’En-Vau

Calanque d'En-Vau, Calanques National Park, Marseille, France

The fjord-shaped Calanque d’En-vau is the most dramatic inlet in Calanque National Park. Bordered by high, vertical cliffs, chiseled by the elements, the sparkling Calanque d’En-vau best showcases the natural wonder of the Massif des Calanques.

The best way to take in the splendor of Calanque d’En-vau is by following the panoramic trail from the Calanque de Port-Pin beach, reachable from Cassis. This scenic trail affords a bird’s-eye view of Calanque d’En-vau and its perfect cliff-framed beach. 

The descent to Calanque d’En-vau beach is rugged and steep, but worth the effort. There are no facilities, so bring everything you need with you (water, food, garbage bag, etc…). 

It’s also possible to hike to En Vau from Col de la Gardiole, off of Route de la Gineste.

Facilities | None 

Road Access | None

Calanque de Sugiton

Calanque de Sugiton and Devenson Cliffs, Marseille, France

Calanque de Sugiton is the most popular calanque due to its proximity to the Luminy University Campus, which is served by the direct B1 bus from Castellane. 

Calanque de Sugiton is distinct, because it’s punctuated by rock islets. There are two small beaches at the end of the Calanque, the “western beach” being the larger. 

The hike from Luminy to Calanque de Sugiton is moderate, chiefly following groomed paths. Most visitors will return to Luminy along the same track. 

However, you can continue along the coast to Calanque de Morgiou and onwards to Les Baumettes. Note: this path requires unaided scrambling. Read our Calanque de Sugiton – Calanque de Morgiou trail guide more more information.

Facilities | None

Seasonal Permits | Because of erosion issues caused by overcrowding, Calanque de Sugiton is restricted in summer. Only those that book a free reservation in advance are permitted to visit Calanque de Sugiton. 

Road Access | None

Calanque de Morgiou

Calanque de Morgiou port, Marseille, France

The narrow and deep Calanque de Morgiou is located between Calanque de Sormiou and Calanque de Sugiton. 

Home to 40 permanent residents, 120 Provençal cottages (cabanons), and a number of boats, Calanque Morgiou is both charming and picturesque. A small beach is located to the east of the port. 

We hiked to Calanque de Morgiou from Calanque de Sugiton and enjoyed a satisfying lunch at Bar Nautic, overlooking the cove. You can also hike to Morgiou directly from Luminy.

Morgiou Calanque’s claim to fame is the Cosquer Cave, an underwater cave containing prehistoric rock art engravings. To see a replica of the Cosquer Cave, visit Villa Méditerranée in Marseille. 

Facilities | Bar Nautic restaurant (cash only)

Road Access | Rte du Feu de la Calanque de Morgiou road connects Les Baumettes district to the Morgiou Calanque. To find out when this road is open, consult the Calanques National Park mobile app. 

Calanque de Sormiou

Calanque de Sormiou, Morgiou Crest, Calanques, Marseille, France

Calanque de Sormiou is located to the west of Calanque de Morgiou. 

Marseille’s largest calanque is flanked by rolling limestone walls and home to a port, sandy beach, restaurant, and car park (access authorized in low season only).  

The best views of Calanque de Morgiou are from the Morgiou crest trail and the path that links Col du Carrefour to Port de Sormiou, starting at Les Baumettes. Read our Calanque de Sormiou hiking guide to find out how to hike this scenic trail.

Facilities | Le Château Sormiou. Check the website for opening times. 

Road Access | Rte du Feu de la Calanque de Sormiou connects Sormiou with Calanque de Sormiou. Consult the Calanques National Park mobile app to find out if this road is open. 

Hiking in Calanques National Park

Col de Cortiou to Podestat, Maresille, France

The Massif des Calanques is a rugged limestone mountain range.

Hiking across the Calanques Massif feels akin to hiking in the Southern Limestone Alps (Dolomites and Slovenian Alps).

All hikes require navigating uneven, sometimes polished limestone terrain. Many hikes traverse loose rocky paths and require some scrambling. 

It’s essential to be surefooted, well-prepared, and properly geared up for hiking in Calanques National Park. Bring 2 liters of water per person, wear sun protection, and wear sturdy hiking boots. Start hikes as early as possible to avoid the midday heat. 

Trail Waymarking | Trails are waymarked with different colors (red/white, red, blue, yellow, green). Colors signify different routes, not difficulty. 

Trail Signage | Trail signage varies. The most effective trail signs are painted on rocks. Many of the woodens signs are broken, due to heavy winds. It’s vital to reference this paper trail map and use a mobile trail map like Komoot (download the route for offline use) to navigate. Though trails are well-marked, junctions can be confusing, unless you have a point of reference. 

Trail Conditions | Trails are in excellent condition. However, some trails are slippery, because the limestone is so heavily polished from so much foot traffic. Also, there are some steep scrambling sections on various trails that are not aided and can prove difficult, when descending. 

Safety | Hiking in Calanques National Park is safe, so long as you’re adequately prepared. 

Trail Closures | Authorities can close the park to hikers for a number of reasons: fire risk, mistral wind, etc… Always check the Calanques National Park mobile app to find out if the park is indeed open. 

Calanques National Park Viewpoints 

Belvédère de Sugiton

Belvédère de Sugiton Viewpoint, Calanques, France

The Sugiton viewpoint offers sweeping views of the coastline, including the impressive Grande Candelle and Devenson Cliffs to the east and Calanque Morgiou to the west. 

The lookout point is located on the site of a former military watchtower built by the Germans during the Second World War. 

Belvédère de Sugiton is a short walk away from Luminy University Campus. We recommend detouring to this viewpoint from Col de Sugiton, before/after visiting Calanque de Sugiton. You can also detour here, if you’re hiking from Cassis to Luminy. 

Belvédère d’En-Vau

Belvédère d’En-Vau offers a breathtaking vantage point of Calanque En-Vau and the ocher-colored cliffs of Cap Canaille beyond. 

The hike to Belvédère d’En-Vau starts in Cassis. Follow the GR 98 (red-white waymarks) to Col de l’Oule, where the viewpoint trail branches off. 

Best Base for Exploring Calanques National Park: Marseille, or Cassis


Cassis, France

Cassis is a pretty, quintessential seaside destination, with several beaches, a delightful Provençal market, a cliffside 5-star hotel, and an attractive pedestrian area. 

This fishing village is concentrated around a pretty harbor, bobbing with boasts and rimmed with cafés and restaurants. 

Although Cassis is easy on the eyes and absolutely lovely in the morning, it’s swarming with tourists in the afternoon.

Cassis has the great advantage of being walking distance to Calanque de Port-Pin and Calanque d’en Vau. However, to reach the central and western area of the park requires multiple connections. 

Cassis is the best base for travelers who want to combine boating and hiking adventures with beach time. 

If you’re visiting the Calanques in the context of a longer Southern France, or Provence road trip, stay in Cassis. Cassis accommodations provide parking and it will be far more relaxing to park and stay here, compared to big and busy Marseille. 

Best Cassis Accommodations

Hôtel Les Roches Blanches, Cassis, France
Hôtel Les Roches Blanches

Top Choice – Midrange | Managed by caring hosts, Chambre d’hôtes Clos du Petit Jésus is a quiet and comfortable B&B with an outdoor swimming pool, terrace, and generous breakfast. Parking is included. The guesthouse is a short 10-minute walk to the port of Cassis.  

Luxury | HPC Suites offers well-kept, self-catering apartments in an idyllic and central location in Cassis, walking distance to the port (10 minutes). Free parking is available. 

Luxury | Hotel De La Plage – Mahogany is situated along Avenue de l’Amiral Ganteaume across from Plage du Bestouan beach, a 5-minute walk from the Port of Cassis. This beachfront hotel offers 28 comfortable, air-conditioned rooms, many of which have sea views. Extra perks: sunny sea-facing terrace, bar, restaurant (summer only), spa and pool (seasonal / extra charge). Parking is available for an extra fee (reserve in advance). 

Top Choice – Luxury | Hôtel Les Roches Blanches occupies a privileged cliffside position in Cassis, overlooking the sea and Cap canaille. Stay here for the dreamy setting and excellent breakfast. Restaurants and pools are open seasonally. Book a sea-view room. On-site parking is available for an extra fee. 

Look for accommodation in Cassis.


Old Port of Marseille, France

Marseille is the ideal base for rigorously exploring Calanques National Park, as it’s directly connected to the Luminy, Les Baumettes, and Les Goudes trailheads with transit.

Marseille is the second largest city in France. It’s a huge, sprawling metropolis with vibrant neighborhoods, a booming food scene, and lots of commotion. Certain areas are gritty and vigilance is imperative.

Marseille is not a cute, picture-perfect, seaside “resort” destination. It’s a multicultural and multifaceted city filled with warm, genuine, and open-minded people, hailing from all across France and the Mediterranean. 

Needless to say, we loved Marseille. It’s a city that’s alive and sticks to your heart. And, the food is sensational!

Read our Marseille Travel Guide for essential travel tips, including where to eat and what to see. 

We recommend staying at Vieux Port, or in the neighborhoods between Vieux Port and Castellane (6th arrondissement). Castellane is the main transit hub, from which Calanques National Park-bound buses depart. 

We split our time between Hôtel Le M (near Castellane) and Le Pythéas apartment (Vieux Port). 

Best Marseille Accommodations

Hôtel Le M, Marseille, France
Hôtel Le M

Midrange | Hôtel Le M is a comfortable 3-star hotel located on Rue Paradis, a safe commercial street, near the Estrangin metro station and walking distance to both Vieux Port and Castellane. All rooms have air-conditioning and are equipped with a coffee machine and tea kettle. Staying here is very relaxing and uncomplicated: luggage storage is provided, breakfast is available (you can decide each morning whether you’d like breakfast), check-in and check-out is efficient. 

Midrange | Le Pythéas – Vue Vieux-Port avec terrasse et clim is a light-filled spacious apartment in Vieux Port. We loved the location and layout of the apartment. However, it would need a few upgrades (more towels, towel racks, more efficient self-check-in). Also check out this similar apartment: Le Pythéas Vieux Port Marseille

Budget-Midrange | Top-rated Les Appartements du Vieux Port offers a wide array of clean, modern, air-conditioned apartments in a central location in Vieux Port. 

Luxury | Maisons du Monde Hôtel & Suites – Marseille Vieux Port stands prominently across the ferry terminal of Vieux Port. This chic portside hotel offers air-conditioned rooms, lovingly furnished with Maisons du Monde decor. Book a room with a harbor view. Breakfast is available. 

Top Choice – Luxury | Housed in a 19th century private mansion, the stylish boutique Hôtel C2 stands out with its bright contemporary rooms, spa, fabulous breakfast, and phenomenal service. 

More accommodations in Marseille: Maison Juste (midrange-luxury), Boutique Hôtel Provencia (midrange), and Hotel Sofitel Marseille Vieux Port (luxury). 

Look for accommodation in Marseille.

Southern France Travel Guides


Calanques National Park:

Calanques National Park, Marseille, France

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Moon & Honey Travel is an independent blog created by two passionate hikers. We are able to provide free content to you, because of ads and affiliate links. When you make a purchase using one of these links, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Happy travels and happy trails, Sabrina and Kati

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