Marseille Durable
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Hiking to Sormiou from Les Baumettes

Sport, Hiking itinerary, Pedestrian sports in Marseille 9ème
5.7 km
  • The itinerary is a loop hike, offering access to the fascinating Calanque de Sormiou and its beach. Bear in mind that it is sublime from above. Today, the Calanque's coastline is mostly a victim of its own success.

  • The best time to enjoy the Calanques coastline is early in the morning. Sormiou is no exception to this golden rule. Especially if you're looking for a little taste of the tranquillity of "cabanon" life, and a chance to catch a glimpse of underwater fauna as you take a refreshing dip after a strenuous hike.

    If you leave early in the morning, the hike will be cooler and you'll enjoy the shade offered by the vegetation, spared from the fires. At least as far as the Col des Escourtines,...
    The best time to enjoy the Calanques coastline is early in the morning. Sormiou is no exception to this golden rule. Especially if you're looking for a little taste of the tranquillity of "cabanon" life, and a chance to catch a glimpse of underwater fauna as you take a refreshing dip after a strenuous hike.

    If you leave early in the morning, the hike will be cooler and you'll enjoy the shade offered by the vegetation, spared from the fires. At least as far as the Col des Escourtines, then once you've reached the bottom of the eponymous valley.

    The return journey, on the other hand, is bound to be in full sunshine. You'll need a hat and plenty of water to complete the loop in good conditions.
  • Difference in height
    285 m
  • Environment
    • Close to a public transportation
    • Sea view
    • Panoramic view
    • Coastal
  • Spoken languages
    • French
  • Documentation
    GPX / KML files allow you to export the trail of your hike to your GPS (or other navigation tool)
Points of interest
1 Starting point for the walk
The RTM line 22 bus will drop you off at the "Les Baumettes" stop. When you leave the bus, take a few steps forward, then turn right onto the Chemin de Morgiou. Walk past the Chez Zé restaurant and you will come to a car park. At the entrance, on a concrete ledge, there is the first red mark, which you should follow.
2 Restaurant chez Zé
3 Start of the red trail
This is where the walk really begins, and you need to follow the red markings. Walk along the right-hand side of the car park towards the pine-filled meadow.
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4 Stele in honour of the three members of the Resistance who died on 4 July 1944
Jacques Baby, one of the three young Resistance fighters shot here, was born in 1921. In January 1944, he formed a maquis of francs-tireurs et partisans, an internal French resistance movement founded by the French Communist Party. His actions were based in the Gard département. In April 1944, he was wounded and hospitalised in Alès and then Nîmes. A Vichy court martial sentenced him to death, along with two other Cevennes maquisards, Serge Loiseau and Jean Odelin. Thirty gendarmes were mobilised to carry out the execution. None of them, individually or in groups, agreed to carry out the order. The gendarmes were in turn arrested and imprisoned. A firing squad of thirty policemen from a mobile reserve group was responsible for shooting the three resistance fighters, who were tied to pine trees in the valley. Jacques Baby was posthumously appointed FFI lieutenant. A street in Nîmes bears his name. Let us never forget.
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5 Arch-shaped remains
During the 19th century, numerous factories and plants were set up in this isolated valley. It was common practice at the time to install polluting factories that used soda ash all around the Calanques, which were virtually uninhabited. Here we can see a small section of a factory wall, which was probably part of a lime kiln.
6 Evidence of an old quarry
This straight trace in the rock is a vestige of an old stone extraction activity in a quarry that was used between the 1st and 2nd World Wars. The workers dug a hole into which they poured black powder to explode the rock and cause a piece to break off.
7 At the fork, take the path on the left
From here, follow the blue dotted tracks 1b to the left to reach the Col des Escourtines.
8 The beehives of the Abiho Calanques association
Watch out for the active foragers. These are the bees of the Calanques, and here at the foot of the Lun hill, the hives are ideally located. Positioned on the east-south-east facing slope, they enjoy the first rays of the morning sun.

Since 2014, the association has been educating hikers and school groups about the benefits of bees in nature. Even if they scare some people, who are afraid of being stung, bees play a vital role. They contribute to the pollination of 80% of flowering and cultivated plants, thanks to the pollen that bees collect and transport when they gather pollen from flowers. Like the wind, they play a very active role in fertilising plants, because pollen itself is not mobile. Not to mention all the benefits of the honey they produce: high sweetening power, source of antioxidants and antibacterial properties.

Albert Einstein is quoted as saying: "If the bee were to disappear from the face of the earth, mankind would only have a few years to live".
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9 Viewpoint over Sormiou
The Calanque de Sormiou is wide open towards the sea, gradually narrowing to end in a small port and a pretty sandy beach. Pine trees, saved from various fires, still cover the bottom of the cove. Sormiou has been occupied by people since the end of the 19th century: Sunday fishermen, day-trippers, hikers and climbers.
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10 Col des Escourtines
Escourtines or formerly courtines/ corts. A bastide in Provence is a country residence, and when it was isolated or very far from its neighbour, it was called Corts.
But the name may also come from the Provençal escourtin, which is a bag used to press olive paste.

Here, you leave the heights and descend into a shady valley that leads to the heart of the Calanque de Sormiou hamlet.
11 Sarsaparilla
Sarsaparilla, also known as prickly bindweed, is one of the plants that can always be found along the paths in the Calanques, and is perfectly suited to dry land. Sarsaparilla is an excellent natural barrier to encourage walkers to stay on the paths. Its liana is very strong and cannot be broken by hand. The sharp, aggressive thorns that form the edge of its leaves help to make the scrubland-like vegetation difficult to penetrate.

The very young parts of the branches are edible, raw or cooked. They should be picked in spring, reddish and very tender. They can be prepared in the same way as wild asparagus. The flavour is slightly bitter. Alternatively, they can be infused in brandy with sugar cane syrup to make a liqueur. If you come across a herd of goats, or even Smurfs, you should know that they love to eat this plant!

On a more serious note, the name sarsaparilla is borrowed from the Portuguese and Spanish "salsa/zarza" - "parrilla", literally "bramble" and "trellis", a perfect literal description of the plant.
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12 At the end of the Escourtines valley, the pétanque pitch and the sheds
In 1876 Pascalis Buret bought the calanque of Sormiou for her daughter, Marie. Married to the Comte de Ferry, she loved writing and poetry, and her works can be found under the pen name Marie de Sormiou. With her husband, they built a large house, "le château", and a first series of cottages, "cabanons".

The former home of the Ferry couple is now the Château restaurant.

The first occupants of the cabanons were exclusively men. They used the cabanons for shelter and to store their fishing nets. This was particularly true for those who came on foot from the village of Mazargues. As the 20th century progressed, the cabanon became a leisure resort for modest Marseillais. The advent of paid holidays democratised their use, and since 1975, when a decree classified the Calanque de Sormiou, there have been a total of 127 cabanons, none of which are owned by the local residents.

To date, the cabanons have no electricity or running water.

Living in the cabanon, as a "cabanonier", is a veritable art of living, fabulously described in the Marseilles song "un petit cabanon" by Henri Alibert.

When you reach the harbour, take the wide path on your right that leads to another inhabited part of the calanque.
13 Directions to the beach
Here, turn left twice to find stairs leading down to the beach. Follow the shoreline and then turn right up another set of stairs that lead back up to the car park and the Château restaurant.
14 Restaurant le Château
Former home of Marie de Sormiou.
15 Start of the ascent of the red path
You have reached the starting point for the last major effort you will have to make, in the sunshine, to climb back up to the pass. Keep your breath and your water supply under control as you begin the ascent, which will take around forty minutes. The markings are always red.
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16 The Sormiou thumb
As you walk up the red path to the Col des Baumettes, you pass one of the many climbing spots in the heart of the Parc National des Calanques. In this case, the "pouce" (thumb), which corresponds to a needle well out of the way. The site offers nine routes, suitable for children, with equipment dating back to 1992. In 2008, the routes were refitted with stainless steel anchors by Pierre Clarac. The maximum height is 25 metres.
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285 meters of difference in height
  • Maximum altitude : 197 m
  • Total positive elevation : 285 m
  • Total negative elevation : -265 m
  • Max positive elevation : 171 m
  • Min positive elevation : -184 m
  • Services
    • Pets welcome