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Hiking in Calanques National Park in Provence, France

Hiking in Calanques National Park along the Mediterranean Coast of Southern France thrills and rewards with every step. 

Between Marseille and Cassis, trails twist down to idyllic coves, run across dizzying cliffs, and follow rugged crests that rise between deep, fjord-shaped inlets. 

This is a limestone paradise, where white mountains, spangled with green, collide with a cerulean sea. The Calanques massif is grandiose and seems like a feat of the imagination, forged by magic. 

Hiking in Calanques National Park is nothing short of spectacular, but it’s also a difficult undertaking. Though trails are in excellent condition and generously marked, the terrain is rugged and unrelenting. It’s like hiking in the Limestone Alps.

The best time to hike in the Calanques of Marseille and Cassis is spring and autumn, and even winter, weather permitting. Blistering heat, fire risk, and access restrictions make summer the worst time to visit. 

Kati and I traveled to Marseille with the sole intention of exploring this stretch of Mediterranean coast in Provence. We hiked from Cassis to Marseille on a series of day hikes, using public transit to access trailheads. There is absolutely no need to rent a car to experience the best hikes in Calanques National Park.

In this Calanques National Park hiking guide, we’ve summarized the best hikes in the Marseille and Cassis calanques. For further information about transit logistics, trail difficulty, and complete descriptions, read the relevant trail guides (all linked below). Use this Marseille itinerary to find out how to structure a hiking-themed trip to Marseille.

Calanque de Morgiou, Calanques National Park, France

Calanques National Park Hiking 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.

1. Devenson Cliffs Hike: Cassis to Luminy 

Grande Candelle, Devenson Cliffs hike, Marseille, France

This extraordinary point-to-point hike leads from the fishing village of Cassis across the Devenson Cliffs to Luminy University Campus. 

The highlight of this calanques day hike is following Sentier des Falaises du Devenson, the cliffside trail that traverses the Devenson Cliffs from Col de l’Eissadon (100 m) to Col de la Candelle (430 m). 

Though this coastal hike begins and ends in busy, easy-to-access areas, the vast majority of the trail passes through peaceful, untouched landscapes. 

Along the way, there are numerous opportunities to detour to scenic lookouts and beaches, including Calanque d’En-vau Beach, Belvédère d’En-Vau, and Belvédère de Sugiton. 

Trail Stats

Starting Point | Cassis Gendarmerie 78 Bus Stop (le car)

Ending Point | Luminy B1 Bus Stop

Distance | 15.6 km point-to-point

Time Needed | 6:30 hours

Elevation Gain | 1056 meters

Elevation Loss | 938 meters

Difficulty | Difficult

Learn More: Devenson Cliffs Hike

2. Calanque de Sugiton and Calanque de Morgiou

Calanque de Morgiou, Calanques National Park, France

Calanque de Sugtion and Calanque de Morgiou lie halfway between Marseille and Cassis. 

Starting at the Luminy University Campus, easily reached with the direct B1 bus from Marseille (Castellane), an easy path leads to the coast and slopes down to the pine-fringed, pebbly beaches of Sugiton Calanque.

This dreamy Mediterranean cove suffers from overcrowding, due to its accessibility. However, if you get an early start on the trail, you’ll avoid the masses. In high season (June – September), access to Sugiton is only permitted with a prior booking

While most visitors will return to Luminy along the same path, experienced hikers, who are comfortable with unaided scrambling descents, can carry on to Cap Sugiton and Calanque de Morgiou. 

Hugging the coast, the trail wraps around the headland that separates the calanques to reach the pretty harbor of Morgiou. Eat lunch at Bar Nautic (cash only), before pressing on to Col du Renard. 

The trail ascends to the panoramic crest of Morgiou, which it follows to Col du Carrefour and onwards to Col des Escourtines, before making a final descent to Les Baumettes. 

Trail Stats

Starting Point | Luminy B1 Bus Stop

Ending Point | Les Baumettes 22 Bus Stop

Distance | 11.7 km point-to-point

Time Needed | 4:30 hours

Elevation Gain | 467 meters

Elevation Loss | 509 meters

Difficulty | Difficult

Learn More: Calanque de Sugtion and Calanque de Morgiou Hike

3. Les Baumettes – Calanque de Sormiou – Les Goudes 

Calanque de Sormiou beach, Marseille, France

The point-to-point hike from Les Baumeettes to Les Goudes runs along the Mediterranean coast, contouring around numerous calanques along the way. 

Before joining the GR 98-51, the trail runs along the Morgiou crest to Le Carrefour (aka Col du Carrefour). From this high point, the path turns west and descends to Sormiou Calanque (some scrambling needed). With unrivaled views of the largest calanque in Marseille, the trail curves beneath cliffs and twists down the the pretty port of Sormiou, ringed with cabanons.

From the picture-perfect Sormiou Calanque, the trail ascends to Col des Baumettes, where it joins the GR 98-51 and proceeds to Col de Sormiou and Col de Cortiou.

The Les Goudes-bound trail hugs the coast, at varying elevations, winding around various calanques. 

With time, the GR98-51 loses elevation, bringing you closer to sea level. You’ll hike by Calanque de Marseilleveyre and Calanque de la Mounine on your way to Callelongue, where the road to Les Goudes is a welcome sight. 

Detour to Cap Croisette to see the craggy île Maïre island up close, before completing the final stretch to the darling fishing village of Les Goudes. 

Trail Stats

Starting Point | Les Baumettes 22 Bus Stop

Ending Point | Les Goudes 20 Bus Stop

Distance | 15.4 km

Time Needed | 6:30 hours

Elevation Gain | 601 m

Elevation Loss | 692 m

Difficulty | Moderately Difficult

Learn More: Les Baumettes to Les Goudes Hike

4. Calanque d’En Vau and the Cassis Calanques 

Calanque d'en vau beach, Cassis, Calanques National Park, France

The limestone coast between Marseille and Cassis is breathtaking, because of its vertiginous sea cliffs and numerous calanques, or steep-walled inlets. Some of these calanques with their mighty limestone flanks are remarkably narrow, shaped like fjords. Others are crescent-shaped coves with pebbly beaches, fringed with Aleppo pine and rosemary. 

Of the 26 Marseille and Cassis calanques, Calanque d’En Vau is crowned the most beautiful.

The hike to Calanque d’en Vau beach starts in Cassis. The way to En Vau hugs the coast, first wrapping around Calanque de Port-Miou and Calanque de Port Pin. 

From the Port Pin Beach, take the slightly longer panoramic trail to Calanque d’en Vau for the best views. The panoramic trail and direct trail merge at Le Portalet d’en Vau, before plunging down a steep and rugged slope to reach the Vallon d’en Vau valley. On level ground, the path leads to the En Vau beach with no difficulty. 

Trail Stats

Trailhead | Port de Cassis

Distance | 11.1 km lollipop-circuit

Time Needed | 3:15 hours

Elevation Gain/Loss | 500 meters

Difficulty | Moderate-Moderately Difficult

Learn More: Calanque d’En Vau and Cassis Calanque Hike

5. GR 98-51: Cassis to Marseille Hike

Calanque de Podestat to Calanque de Marseilleveyre hiking trail, Calanques, France

The Calanques of Marseille and Cassis are crossed by a number of trails, the most significant being the GR 98 and the GR 51, which overlap in the park.

Some people, mostly trail runners, can hike the entire Cassis-Marseille route in a single day. However, we don’t recommend attempting it. 

If you want to hike from Cassis to Marseille, it’s best to break up the journey in the Luminy University Campus, which offers a direct transit connection to Marseille (Bus line B1). 

Wild camping is not allowed in Calanques National Park and there are no accommodations along the trail. So, we suggest staying in Marseille and hiking the GR 98-51 route in 2-3 stages as day trips, using transit to navigate to the various trailheads. 

Based in Marseille, we divided the Cassis to Marseille trail in 3 stages so that we could savor the route and follow scenic, circuitous paths that branch off of the direct GR 98-51. 

The GR 98-51 is a practical route for accomplishing long distances. By maintaining elevation and following the most straightforward route, it sadly bypasses much of the coast along with its most grandiose inlets. The GR 98-51 sacrifices beauty for efficiency. 

Though the GR 98-51 formed the backbone of our hiking adventures in the Calanques, we happily drifted off the route in order to experience the splendor of the Devenson Cliffs, Calanque d’En-vau Beach, Calanque de Sugiton, Calanque de Sormiou, and Calanque de Sormiou. 

Here’s an inspired way to hike the GR 98-51 from Cassis to Marseille: 

Stage 1 | Cassis – Luminy

Stage 2 | Luminy – Les Baumettes

Stage 3 | Les Baumettes  – Les Goudes 

Best Base for Hiking in Calanques National Park


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. 

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 (10 minute-walk to Castellane) and Le Pythéas apartment (Vieux Port). 

Best Marseille Accommodations

Maisons du Monde Hôtel Suites, Marseille, France
Maisons du Monde Hôtel & Suites

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.


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. 

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. 

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.

Getting Around Calanques National Park with Public Transit

Belvédère de Sugiton, Calanques National Park, Marseille, France

The best way to navigate Calanques National Park is with public transit. Marseille’s excellent transit system is punctual and reliable. We used it multiple times a day to travel to and from trailheads and to navigate the city.

All timetables are synced with Google Maps. 

If you’re planning on exploring Calanques National Park for several days, it’s worth getting a RTM 7-Day Pass (Pass 7 jours Pour tous).

This 7-day pass grants you unlimited access to RTM (Régie des Transports Métropolitains) 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. 

We did this on our day of arrival at the RTM reception desk in Marseille Saint-Charles, located at the entrance to the Metro entrance. It was easy and worth the extra effort. 

Trail Signage and Waymarking in Calanques National Park

Trail signage and waymarking in Calanques National Park, France

Trail signage isn’t consistent throughout Calanques National Park. Some junctions are signed with yellow trail signs, many of which are broken due to the heavy winds.

Other junctions are signed with “rock signs,” where directions are painted onto the rock. In the end, the rock signs are more effective, since they can’t break. 

Relying on trail signs alone will not be an effective way to navigate the park. 

Hiking Trails are abundantly waymarked with different colors. By following the waymarks, you’ll never stray off path. 

The colors signify routes, not difficulty.

For example, the GR 98-51 is always waymarked with red-white stripes. 

In the end, we thought the colors were confusing. It’s rare for a hike to exclusively follow one color waymark. In fact, it’s more likely that a day hike follows several different colors. 

The only way to understand the color waymarking system is to purchase a IGN Les Calanques trail map.

Southern France Travel Guides


Calanques National Park:

Calanques National Park Hiking Trails, 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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