A jewel at the gates of Marseille: The Calanques
Limestone crevices made of vertical drops and cliffs of awesome height .
Between Callelongue and Port Pin, along a coast line of 20 kilometers, magnificent white cliffs rise vertically from the sea. Nobody can resist the fascination of such harmony, made of the infinity of the sea and the divine madness of the cliffs whose sharp peaks and colossal fortresses strive towards heaven.
The Calanques, thes emerals fingers between the rocks, were created 12 000 years ago when a gradual warming after the ice ages made the sea rise to flood the valleys. In this way, the islands of the Riou Archipel were also formed.
The natural conditions sunshine, wind and dryness have given birth to a plant lif which is rich in its diversity, with some rare and fragile species. For example, the "Gouffé" grass exists nowhere else in the world. These species must be preserved. Man, in the pas centuries, let herds of goats graze here and built pens and lime kilns, of which the ruins can still be seen. Of this human settlement, only the fishermen s huts of Sormiou and Morgiou remain a living example.
Even though the hills around the calanques often have barren landscapes there are in fact approximately 900 species of plants. Fifty or so of these species are rare and fifteen are protected by law making the site of considerable interest to botanists.
Cliffs and scree slopes are not without plant life: this rocky landscape can even shelter very rare species that are protected by law. The triangular-leafed scolopendrium fern, for example, only now exists in France in the cracks and rocky cavities of Marseilleveyre and its islands
"Gouffé Grass, that only exists in the world between Marseille and Toulon, only really grows well in the scree slopes of the Calanques.
It is therefore strongly recommended to not walk on the scree slopes.
The main interest for bird watchers in the Calanques lies in the cliffs that are nesting sites for a number of rare and unusual birds such as Bonelli's Eagle, the Peregrine Falcon and the Great Horned Owl.