Les calanques de Marseilles, Cassis and La Ciotat: one of France’s natural wonders

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In the last days of May we went on a road trip down to the south of France. It was the beginning of summer and we wanted to enjoy it.

Marseilles

The beautiful old port of Marseilles.

The beautiful old port of Marseilles.

The second biggest city in France and the capital of Pétanque and Pastis, Marseilles is a beautiful city located a bit more than 300 km south of Lyon. It was historically the most important trade center in the region and functioned as the main trade port of the French Empire. Nowadays it seems to have a bad reputation (that’s what I heard from French people) regarding safety. We spent the day going around there and frankly I saw nothing bad. I guess like in all cities, you just have to be street aware and no need to paranoia. We visited the old port, the MuCEM (an impressive Museum that’s worth checking. Free entrance.), Marseilles’ Cathedral and went up to the beautiful Basilica Notre-Dame of the Garde.

Les calanques

The first open view of calanque de sugiton and its short beach.

The first open view of calanque de sugiton and its short beach.

After a good night sleep we went exploring the beautiful calanques along Marseilles’s coast. Starting in Marseilles its range extends 20 km in length going through Cassis until La Ciotat.

Map of the Calanques between Marseilles and La Ciotat.

Map of the Calanques between Marseilles and La Ciotat.

We started with the calanque de Sugiton that can be reached from Luminy University Campus. It’s a fairly easy hike and it won’t take you more than 1 hour to reach the small beach between the mountains. Parts of the way is paved so you’ll find lots of families hiking with their kids.

Going back to the trail you will find another path heading to the calanque de Morgiou. Hiking along the path you’ll find signs for a belvedere in the top of the mountain. We stopped there to take a look and it’s impressive.

After this belvedere you can go back on the trail and go all the way down to find a little beach. It’s a long walk and as we were a bit tired and still had to go all the way back to where our car was parked (near the University), we decided to skip that. However I think it’s totally worth it if you got time.

We took the road again heading to the calanque de Sormiou. You will reach a parking lot where you can start your hike. It’s a long paved way down to a beach and we decided to stop in a place where we had an amazing view and enjoyed the sunset, rather than go all the way down.

A beautiful view of the calanque de Sormiou.

A beautiful view of the calanque de Sormiou.

La ciotat, Cassis and Route des Crêtes

We had the small village of Ceyreste as our base, as we were staying at the Camping de Ceyreste. Village is pretty small and we were very glad that the only restaurant opened by the time we went back to spend the night was a pizzeria (yes, I love pizza :P).

Some mushroom, ham and cheese. It was delicious!

Some mushroom, ham and cheese. It was delicious!

Next day we took to visit the small cities of La Ciotat and Cassis. They’re both nice cities by the sea. Where we chilled out and relaxed after a busy day going all over the calanques. The best thing about those cities is the road between them. The route des crêtes has some scenic views and passes through the beautiful Parc Naturel Régional des Ballons des Vosges.

Once in Cassis, we skipped the touristy restaurants in front of the old port and walked around some narrow streets away from the port to find the Le Bonapart restaurant, where we had some fresh fish. Delicious meal and least expensive than the touristy restaurants. 

Once in the south of France do as the southern people and have some pastis (an anise-flavored liqueur and apéritif from France, typically containing 40–45% ABV (alcohol by volume)).

Once in the south of France do as the southern people and have some pastis (an anise-flavored liqueur and apéritif from France, typically containing 40–45% ABV (alcohol by volume)).

After lunch we enjoyed the afternoon by The beach of the Cassis’ bay

That’s it. Time to take the road again and go back home.

On our way back to Lyon.

On our way back to Lyon.

Hope it was useful in case you’re planning on spending some time on the south of France.

Click in this picture for more pictures of this area :D

Click in this picture for more pictures of this area 😀

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