Calanque D'en Vau

The En Vau calanque

and its high limestone cliffs

If there is one cove that you absolutely must see, it is this one: the cove of En-Vau. It is the most grandiose with its high cliffs and its beautiful pebble beach. It is the most often represented, the most photographed: it is emblematic of the massif. Its pure lines, the contrast of its white-grey cliffs, which fall into the purple and turquoise waters, are spectacular. There are no cabins here: it is a wild and unspoiled nature, animated only by its visitors.

Its geological formation

It is an estuary cove which ends a 2.5km valley. It is 700m deep in an urgonian limestone, homogeneous in the whole massif, in the northwest and southeast directions. Its valley becomes more and more incised as it approaches the sea, becoming a veritable canyon between two steep walls. It is the result of slow and very ancient erosion due to rainwater runoff and a river, accentuated by the folding of the rocks following tectonic movements, and the rise of sea water, which has flooded it.

What to do in the calanque of En-Vau

A renowned climbing area

Climbers come from all over France and abroad to discover the magical setting of En-Vau. The routes are mainly to be found before reaching the beach, on either side of the defile which leads to the sea, and on the right bank (west), above the sea, on the side of Castelviel and Eissadon.

But whether for climbers or walkers, camping overnight is forbidden: you will have to book at the La Fontasse youth hostel in La Gardiole to stay there, or find accommodation in Marseille or Cassis.

The beach of En-Vau

It is the reward, after the hike or the ascent of a route, to rest, picnic or swim. It is like being at the end of the world! But it is also very popular with families and groups, and depending on the time of arrival, it will be difficult to put your towel down.

It is covered with pebbles: beware of sensitive feet! Its cool water, like everywhere else in the calanques, can be surprising. It makes you want to swim above the clear sea bed and the posidonia meadows, flowering aquatic plants which shelter fish and give the water its beautiful indigo colour.

There is no shade in the calanque when the sun is at its zenith: from spring to autumn it is advisable to protect yourself from the sun with a hat, sunglasses and sun cream. There are no water points on the way: you should bring enough water.

Did you know ?

The Calanque of En-Vau was the setting for a scene in the 1964 film Fantômas, starring Louis de Funès and Jean Marais. Thanks to the beauty and incredible landscapes of the National Park, the Calanques have been used in many film sets.

How to get to the En-Vau cove on foot?

It is possible to go on various hikes in the En-Vau calanque. Whether you come by the valley path or the upper path from Cassis, you are always struck by its beauty!

Access to the En-Vau cove from Cassis

This is certainly the hike to do at least once in your life! Passing through the Port Miou cove, the Port Pin cove and, at the end, the En-Vau cove, it gives you a magical view of the coves in all their splendour. The path is a little steep and requires good walking shoes (especially to cross the scree), but it is well worth the diversions.

Access to the En-Vau cove from the Col de la Gardiole

This access, although more direct, does not offer as exceptional a view as the path from the Presqu’île de Cassis. However, we like to sit in the shade of the pine trees along the way when the sun is at its zenith. It is also easier than the one from Cassis, but just as long!  In any case you will need enough water and something to protect you from the sun, but the spectacle is striking when you arrive on the beach with these cliffs which rise on both sides of the shore.

Discover the calanque of En-Vau by sea

As you walk along the high cliffs of En-Vau you will be impressed by their verticality and attracted by the beach where it is easy to pull your boat in for a snack. At the level of the water, sometimes dark, sometimes clear, you can see fish and octopus.

It is possible to discover it by boat, notably with the company Croisières Marseille Calanques which offers mini-cruises departing from the Vieux-Port of 2h15 or 3h15 (there is no drop-off, you stay on board). But many companies also organise boat trips in the creeks for a day or half day.

For those who wish, it is also possible to rent a canoe to be closer to nature and to be able to make a swimming stop once you arrive on the shore.

Practicle informations 

The En-Vau calanque is at the heart of the Calanques National park : access is therefore regulated. Indeed, the high risk of fires during the summer due to the heat and wind can lead to the closure of the Calanques National Park. Don’t forget to consult the website of the Bouches-du-Rhône (southern french region where marseille is located) which updates the accessibility of the different forest areas of the department every evening, or the app Mes Calanques.