Calanque Cliffs: One of Southern France’s Best Day Trips

If you like crystal clear water, private beaches, and coastal cliffs – then this is a day trip for you! Here’s our take on one of the surprising gems of Southern France.

Packing List: 

  • Camera
  • Food
  • Daypack
  • Water (no place to fill up water in the national park)
  • Swimsuit 
  • Sun protection (sunscreen, sunglasses, hat, etc.) 
  • Beach/picnic towel 
  • Climbing gear (optional- we are not climbers so we didn’t climb but we saw some people climbing) There are over 90 routes in this area. 
  • Shoes to wear in the water (I wore and hiked in Tevas) 

The Hike:

  • Distance: approximately 14 Km or 8.7 miles round trip
  • Time: 4-6 hours
  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Time of year: March – April – early May and late September – October – early November. July through mid-September some areas are closed due to fire hazard.
  • Elevation gain: 600 Feet
  • Elevation: 616 Feet

The above map shows the route that we took. Here is a link to the map:

Pointe de la Cacau: This is a fun peninsula to explore. There are few places that offer spouting or wind horns from the crashing waves underneath the cliffs.

Calanque de Port: Your first beach location in the Calangues. Port is a great beach that offers easy access – this spot will be perfect for those who do not wish to make the hike to En-Vau.

Vaufreges: This spot will offer some of the best views of the Calanques.

En-Vau: This was our favorite beach spot. If you can make it here, this is the place to be.

My husband and I took a trip to Southern France in April, 2019. We flew into Marseille, France and, regrettably, stayed there four nights. Us being the outdoorsy, adventurous couple that we are, we didn’t find the city of Marseille all that great, exciting, or interesting. We found a few things to do, but in hindsight, we wished we had stayed out in the countryside for those nights in a smaller town like Aix-en-Provence or a coastal town like Cassis. During our three full days in Marseille, we decided to take a day trip out of the city, which ended up being a pretty unexpected highlight of our trip. We took a morning bus from Marseille to Cassis (about 20 minute bus ride). 

NOTE: You can purchase bus tickets on the bus……..BUT you will need cash. Thank goodness we arrived with some time to spare because we had to run around like crazy people trying to find an ATM before the bus departed. It ends up being about $6-$7 round trip per person. 

Town of Cassis

The bus drops off above the town center so you will have to walk down 25-35 minutes to the Calanques National Park entrance, which is right at the first calanque, Calanque de Port-Miou. If you need any food or beach supplies, there are a number of small shops in the area. From there you will follow the red trail markers past Calanque de Port Pin and on to Calanque d’En-Vau. I would recommend (if you have the time) sticking to the coast where you will get some beautiful views of the coast and a beautiful aerial view of En-Vau (although this is not the most direct route so plan accordingly). 

The hike/walk itself is not particularly demanding until you start to descend to the final beach location at En-Vau. The final descent to the beach is steep, with lots of loose gravel. For those who do not wish to make this part of the trip, Calanque de Port offers a wonderful beach that is easily accessible.

While it was nice to stop and enjoy each Calanque I would recommend planning to spend most of your time at En-Vau, as this one was truly the most beautiful and remote. 

Rock walls with climbing routes.

While we enjoyed exploring the Calanques on foot, we would also recommend looking into renting kayaks or sunset cruises/catamarans and exploring them that way. Although we did not choose to do this (it was still a little chilly), the Calanques provide great opportunities to get on the water and put your paddling skills to the test! 

En-Vau beach – this place is beautiful

We hope you all found this helpful – stay safe out there!



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