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Fitness
Hiking trail

Walk the Calanques de Cassis

Hiking trail · Bouches-du-Rhône
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Macs Adventure Verified partner  Explorers Choice 
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    Photo: Sarah Stone, Macs Adventure
ft 1200 1000 800 600 400 200 -200 8 6 4 2 mi

Today's walk is a real highlight and should not be missed! Walk to the crystal clear waters of the Calanques National Park, most of which is only accessible by foot or boat.
moderate
15 km
5:00 h
540 m
520 m

The area today is a highly convoluted coast line of steep fjiord-like limestone inlets. The hinterland consists of low mountains covered in low lying shrubs and trees with deeply eroded dry river valleys.

From the fishing port of Cassis you walk around the Quai des Baux, passing chic waterside cafes and a multitude of boats. As you pass by the up market Plage de Bestoun, lapped by turquoise blue water, you thread your way through the streets of Port Miou before descending to the waterside at the Calanque de Port Miou, crammed with gleaming white watercraft. After a short ascent, you descend back to sea level at the Calanque de Port Pin.  From the beach, you climb up a rocky track to the high point of Pointe d'en Vau from where you continue to walk high above the Calanque d'en Vau itself with fleeting glimpses of its calm water and island views beyond. You then plunge to the bottom of the Vallon d'en Vau which leads through a pinnacled, rocky ravine to the serene beach of the Calanque itself. Retracing your steps, the gorge threads through the Foret Domaniale de la Gardiole which climbs steadily through a landscape of rock pillars and cliff faces until you emerge into the sun at the Col de la Gardiole. The route completes the circle with a long downhill walk through low vegetation to track along the cliff tops of the quarry beside Port Miou where you finish the walk.

outdooractive.com User
Author
Sarah Stone
Updated: July 25, 2018

Difficulty
moderate
Technique
Stamina
Experience
Landscape
Highest point
258 m
Lowest point
2 m
Best time of year
Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec

Safety information

Always check the weather before setting off, and take heed of any paths that have been closed by the authorities.

Temperatures in Provence can soar, and you can't always rely on passing a water supply on your walk. Take at least 2 litres of water per person, perhaps even more on very hot days. Do not wait until you are thirsty to drink, and take regular sips as you go.

Tips, hints and links

There is no where to pick up food or drink along the way so a picnic and plenty of water is necessary. You can ask you hotel to provide this (always ask upon check-in) or you can pick up supplies from the local bakery or supermarket before setting off.

Points of Interest

1) The Calanques National Park - is France's tenth and most recent, having been opened to the public in April 2013. Remarkable for its biodiversity, including protected species of; avians-  Bonnelli's eagle, fish- brown meagre, grouper, marine- rare dolphin and turtle. The aim of the park is to preserve its wonderful environment, flora and fauna whilst opening it to the public and access is tightly regulated for boats, vehicles and hikers. The period between 1st June and 30th September has additional restrictions that either restrict or prohibit entirely access to the park due to the risk of forest fire.

2) Port Miou - The huge limestone quarry at Port Miou is a relic of the export of the famous “white stone of Cassis”, one of the most famous examples of which forms the plinth to the Statue of Liberty in New York. This material was quarried before modern records began, however the large scale extraction was carried out between 1900-1982 using dynamite and heavy machinery, for prosaic uses as toothpaste, chalk and plastic as well as a building material.

Start

Tourist Information, Cassis (1 m)
Coordinates:
DD
43.213828, 5.537151
DMS
43°12'49.8"N 5°32'13.7"E
UTM
31T 706084 4787685
w3w 
///championship.truancy.nibbles

Destination

Tourist Information, Cassis

Turn-by-turn directions

START: Stand with your back to the entrance of the Tourist Information Centre facing the harbour.

0.00km - AHEAD, walk around the harbour basin keeping the quay side immediately on your left until the terracotta tiled steps by a hotel/restaurant. Climb up the “Traverse Rompe Cuou”, turn left at the top and continue up the public road. Turn left again before the small park in the direction of Bestoun car park and “Les Calanques”. Follow the yellow painted pedestrian walkway, go through the Plage du Bestoun and follow “Av des Calanques” until the junction between “Av Notre Dame” and “Av des Calanques” at the no entry sign.

1.50km - TURN RIGHT up “Av des Calanques” past the stone gates of the house “Cassiopee”. Turn left to remain on “Av des Calanques” until the entrance to Port Miou harbour on your left hand side.

2.00km - TURN LEFT, into the National Park along the broad gravel path following the white/red flashes of the GR51/98.  Remain on the right of an ugly concrete building and continue on the gravel road up an enormous ramp, bearing left at the top junction to go down the narrower path beside a wire fence until the beach at Port Pin.

3.40km - BEAR LEFT, ignoring the white/red flashes of the GR51/98 and climb the rocky path marked with a number 4 circled in blue. Continue around the top of the cliffs, following the frequent blue flashes until a major track junction.  

5.30km - TURN LEFT, following the white/red GR signs downhill until the main track at the bottom.  (Option: turn left for a 15min round-trip visit to the beach at Calanque d'en Vau. Highly Recommended.)

5.60km - TURN RIGHT, following white/red GR flashes up the valley until a staggered cross roads. Continue ahead following the red flashes and at the next junction follow the brown flashes to “Gardiole” and “Cassis” marked on the stones on your right. Ignore the next junction on your left and continue on red/brown flashes until the junction in front of the green metal gates.

9.90km - TURN LEFT uphill following the red flashes in the direction of “Col de la Gardiole” on the concrete plinth. Bear left again uphill on the tarmac road, following red/green flashes until the low metal barrier at the public road, car park and trees.

10.80km - TURN RIGHT, and exit the car park by a second metal barrier and follow yellow/blue flashes, bearing right off the road at the yellow/blue flashes and continuing downhill to the crossroads with the rocky track lined with boulders.

11.80km - AHEAD, following yellow flashes towards “Cassis”. At the small concrete pillar with yellow/brown flashes bear right on the green flash and continue following green flashes downhill. At the next junction go straight ahead at a hairpin bend with a cluster of cairns. A little later turn sharp right at a stone information table. Look for a minor path on your left and follow the green flashes off the main path. CAUTION: Cliff edge on your left. At cistern 241, bear left onto the gravel road. On meeting the main GR path at some stone pillars turn left downhill to the park entrance of Port Miou.

15.00km - FINISH at Tourist Information Centre, Cassis.

Note


all notes on protected areas

Coordinates

DD
43.213828, 5.537151
DMS
43°12'49.8"N 5°32'13.7"E
UTM
31T 706084 4787685
w3w 
///championship.truancy.nibbles
Arrival by train, car, foot or bike

Equipment

Sturdy and comfortable walking boots or shoes are a must. You may like walking poles to assist with the descents.

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Difficulty
moderate
Distance
15 km
Duration
5:00h
Ascent
540 m
Descent
520 m

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