Can’t miss “Les Caranques”! -An adventure in southern France-

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France

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There are lots of beautiful places around the world which are not that popular among tourists yet…

May be visiting “Les Calanques” is one of those.
Today, I would like to introduce this place where I’ve been during my 9 days holiday made in early May.

I saw lots of french speaking people there so may be this place is mainly popular among french people.
However, I have to share this place ALL OVER THE WORLD since it is too beautiful to keep secret only among the nation.
I found little practical information in English online so I hope this story will be useful to plan your visit.

Cassis, a port town, is the place to start over.
Visit the information center first and get the map.
Then you will be able to get out of the town for hiking.
Les Calanques can be visited on your foot!

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Center of Cassis

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Too beautiful to leave the town…

 

Not far from the town center, another beautiful beach welcomes you.

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We found some nudist.(My first time to see those kind of people lol)

 

The map is not that needed when doing this hike but may be you will use it most when getting out of the town. Even if you are not good at directions or maps, there are lots of signs like this so don’t worry!

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The direction to “Port Miou” is shown

 

Before our journey goes far beyond, let’s check what does “Les Calanques” mean.
Calanque means cove in French. So visiting “ Les Calanques” means visiting the coves.
From Cassis, you can visit three Calanques: Port Miou, Port Pin and En Vau.

The beginning of the hiking, you only walk a road covered with asphalt and it is not that steep so you will not get tired. As you go along, the road will change from asphalt to sand, from sand to rocks.

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There is a sign on the rock

There are mainly three hiking routes.
The routes are colored differently by red, green and blue on the map and so the signs on the street.
You don’t have to mind which color you would like to follow in the beginning because not till the middle of the way, all the routes will follow the same path.

You will arrive at the first Calanque not more than one hour walk from the town.

埋もれるPort Miouの看板

Half-hidden sign of Port Miou

Port Miou

Port Miou

Leaving the first Calanque, Port Miou, you will find the road getting steep and not plain anymore.

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And now…Second Calanque, Port Pin!

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I think this is the picture of Port Pin.

For me, the most tiring part came after leaving the Port Pin.
Narrow way, steep path and rocky roads…
You need to give your way ocasionally to the oncoming hikers and so you will be given to.
Exchanging small conversations like ”Merci” or “ Bonjour” may lessen your tiredness a little.

Keep tolerating you way…

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I asked my friend to go closer to the cliff even though she was scared of it.

 

Finally we arrived the peak of this whole tour.
There were no fences to protect us from the cliff.

To reach the last Calanques, En Vau, you have to go down this cliff but we chose not to go further.
It is because…

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Look at the girl on the right end. She is putting her hand of the ground…

Too scary for us!
I looked in the cliff.
I found some people in distant down the cliff as small as one grain of rice.
“No I can’t go that far away from here!”
Moreover, the cliff was steep and I could not find our way down, it was pretty scary.
I was getting exhausted, too.

When I found that my friend had the same feeling with me, I felt really relieved.

No regrets because we hiked all the way till there and we saw wonderful views already.
We decided to go back and try another route we found during our way.

You will find this sign.

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We named this “Route blue”

 

I recommend this route to people who don’t want to do serious hiking or don’t have good shoes.
Route blue is the way to reach the cape of a small land.

Take the left when you find the fork on your way to Port Miou.
(I hope the map on the foot of this page will help you)
Plain road and you will find almost no rocks…
The round trip to the cape will take only 1-1h30.
It is not a hiking but just a stroll but a beautiful sight is promised.

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My friend reached the cape

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Somewhere of Mediterranean sea

Reaching here, all you have to do is to go back to the town center.
If you are too tired to go on your foot, there is a train like this.
Please remember, it is not cheap!

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The fee was…15Euros or something like that

 

No toilets will be found from the town center till you come back.
(There was one near this train station but the use was limited for the customers of the restaurant)
No Kiosks as well. Please bring enough water with you. I shall say you need at least 1 litter bottle of water.

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The best Orangina I’ve ever had.

Our whole journey took 4-5 hours.
Maybe it won’t take this much since we were having “picture time” and havong short breaks on our way.

It was great to have this kind of adventurous activity during our trip.
It is always nice to visit touristical buildings or museums but moving your body and feeling the nature gives you a spice to your trip.
Talking of visiting Calanques, I cannot forget the color of the blue blue sea.

I’m not a hiking lover at all but with a bit of challenging spirit, “lets’s give it a try”, I was able to come back to the town center.

 

Access to Cassis
Cassis is the start for the hiking to Calanques.
To get into Cassis, Marseille is the nearset biggest city.
We chose by bus to reach Cassis sice there was railway construction from 9:00-11:00 on the day we left Marseille.

By train to Cassis
Marseille station→Cassis station→<by bus or taxi>Casino station(center of Cassis)
Time table of the bus from Cassis station to Casino station is here

By bus to Cassis
Marseille station→<by Metro>Castellane station→Gendarmerie station by bus(Most of the people get off here)
Timetable of the bus from Castellane station to Gendarmerie station is here

Aren’t there any other way to visit Calanques except hiking?
Yes, there are. There is a boat tour.
However, I personally consider that you can enjoy more the beautifull sea if you take the hiking and look the sea from a hight. As long as we came down from the mountains, we saw less layers of the color of the sea.
Another reason to recommend hiking is that we found long lines for boat tickets at the town center.
I met many kids and elderlies during our hike so I suppose you don’t have to worry too much about the route.

What you need

  • Treking shoes:I was with my shoes for running. It was nice because it was light but I often felt the rock through the sole. I recommend shoes for trekking to avoid slipping as well.
  • Backpack:Messenger bags are not recommended. Backpack is the best!
  • Water:I wrote above already but at least you need one liter.
  • Sunglasses

Can you make a day trip from Marseille?

It should not be impossible but I suggest to stay over a night after the hiking at Cassis.
You can hike without any rush then.
We had Buillabaise for dinner at the town center and it was nice having dinner as well as feeling the breeze.

What you have to know

Some of the routes are closed from Jul 1 to Sep 30 due to possibility of fires.
Not only during this period but anytime, the routes will be closed according to strong winds or other bad weather conditions.
Concerning “Route blue” which I introduced above can be enjoyed throughout the year.
I would like to give you some link of webpages as your reference but I could not found easy-to-understand pages.
This is the link to Cassis’s official website.

Lastly, this is the link to my google map which shows access to Cassis and locations of Calanques. I also marked “route blue” as well.
I hope this will be useful to you to plan your visit to Calanques!

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A photo&travel lover, based in Tokyo. Work as media relations coordinator full-time. Loves to capture a broad landscape of town or nature and a scenery with something old and classic. Started using a film SLR from winter 2016.

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