Petit port de la Calanque de Sormiou, barque et eau turquoise à Marseille en Provence
DiscoverA natural wonderThe Calanques National Park

The Calanques of Marseille

The cliffs of the Calanques are a natural wonder nestled between Marseille and Cassis. This unique and breathtaking scenery is an absolute must-see in Marseille! With pebble and fine sandy beaches, and miniature fjords with turquoise waters, this biodiverse jewel looks just like a postcard! It is the perfect location to sunbathe, explore the seabed, or try yourself at some water sports such as kayaking.

Whether you are planning a hike or merely enjoying the water and nature around you, this magnificent place will fulfill your every desire. Some Calanques are more accessible than others and are better suited for families. Other Calanques which are harder to reach will be perfect for hiking-lovers, and their efforts will be well worth it. This one-of-a-kind location must not be missed when visiting Marseille!

What are the Calanques?

A Calanque is a unique kind of geological formation made of limestone.  They are big rocky coves forming a steep and narrow valley inland and are mostly found around the Mediterranean sea. Here, the Calanques National Park is a protected and highly regulated area, stretching over 20 km from Marseille to Cassis, with 26 Calanques of various sizes (25 in Marseille and 1 in Cassis). Some are easily accessible and others are a lot less, but regardless, the Calanques are an absolute must-see when you visit Marseille!

Extraordinary underwater flora

Fauna and flora are everywhere in the Calanques National Park. We often forget to mention underwater vegetation. However, it is so diverse that it can be compared to an underwater garden with octopuses, anemones, urchins, seabreams, mullets but also pointed-snout wrasses, saddled seabreams, and groupers. The turquoise waters reveal a sandy seabed that stands out against the indigo of the Posidonia, an aquatic flowering plant sheltering many species. The National Park regulations allow limited access for boats and forbid any type of fishing.

Did you know?

Near Cap Morgiou, roughly 37 meters underwater, a unique submarine cave ‘La Grotte Cosquer’ has more than 200 rupestrian paintings (with penguins, seals, buffaloes, horses, men, and hands) as well as carvings. The paintings are more than 25,000 years old. This cave was discovered in 1992 by Henri Cosquer. A replica is open since June 2022 in the ‘Villa Méditerranée’ front of The Mucem.

Which Calanques shall I explore?

Even if they are all different, each Calanque of Marseille is more beautiful than the last. Some of them are harder to access and require more effort but they are well worth it! With crystal-clear waters, sheer cliffs, and fine sandy beaches, there is something for everyone. Whether you decide to hike in the National Park or to stay near the coastline of the ‘Côte Bleue’, you will be amazed by the magnificent landscapes.

How to access the Calanques? 

You need to plan your visit to the Calanques. Whether you decide to put on your hiking shoes to enjoy a trek or you would rather explore them by the water, you need to organise your visit to enjoy it to the fullest.

The App : Mes Calanques

Published in 2019, the app is the answer to three customers’ needs:

App for visits: practical information to prepare your visit (access, transportation, accommodation, services)

App to discover: with many hikes and geolocalised points, as well as informative pages on nature, culture, and landscapes

App for citizen contribution: visitors can comment on their experience, share their own ideas, and even partake in ‘citizen’s agenda’

The strength of the app is being able to communicate a wealth of information (data on opening and closing of the massif or of the trails) in real-time and in an automated way, as well as to pass on geolocalised information: visitors enjoy an improved experience and cannot get lost on the tracks anymore!