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The Sormiou calanque

a corner of paradise

The Calanque de Sormiou is one of the most famous creeks in Marseille. Located in the 9th district of Marseille, it offers a breathtaking landscape and a large sandy beach!

An attractive cove

A postcard setting

To get there, you have to cross the Baumettes district (the word “baumettes” means small caves in Provençal), to reach the narrow and winding road in the hill, which goes up to the eponymous pass. Once you reach the pass, a hike path allows you to go down to the calanque (about 45 mn walk) … and a magnificent panorama is offered to you.

In the distant indentation of the hills, the sea shines, an azure blue that blends with the horizon. The white limestone of the massif is stained with the green of the garrigue and the pine trees, a real palette of three colours. Almost hidden, the small road zigzags down. Watch out for other cars coming up, as there is little space to pass each other!

After a long descent, you will finally see the cove. A paying car park awaits you if you come by car. This was a private property which belonged to the Countess Marie de Buret, known as Marie de Sormiou at the end of the 19th century, a woman of letters who took part in the work of the Félibrige.

/During the summer season, the car park is only accessible to customers of the calanque’s restaurant*! 

The cabanons, emblem of a Marseilles tradition

Sormiou is home to a few small houses that appeared at the beginning of the 20th century to store fishermen’s boats: cabanons. Over time, these cabanons have become very popular and sought-after holiday resorts for the people of Marseille, despite their rudimentary comfort (no electricity). The cabanonniers, aware of this privilege, passed them on from generation to generation. It has become a real “art of living”, between swimming and aperitif their happy owners take full advantage of this peaceful and convivial life.

The beach of the Calanque de Sormiou

60 metres long, made up of pebbles and sand, it is one of the rare large beaches in the calanques. It welcomes a varied public, both families and sportsmen. It differs from the other creeks and small coves that the Marseillais call “plagettes”. The crystal-clear waters of the calanques are generally colder than those of the large sandy beaches found in the city: the coolness is often due to an underground freshwater spring that flows into it.

The UCPA centre at the end of the beach contributes to its animation with various sports activities (kayaks, hiking, climbing). On the opposite side of the beach, you will find the small marina of the Calanque de Sormiou.

Activities and infrastructures of the calanque

Nature trails and climbing routes

Sormiou is crossed by the GR98 hiking trail, which starts in the Calanque of Callelongue and ends in the village of Cassis. It is the first large, deep calanque of the massif that one meets just after Callelongue. It is followed by the Calanque de Morgiou.

There are numerous climbing areas for all levels: either on the Morgiou side or towards the Sormiou beak.

*Restaurant Le Château

Originally the restaurant was the house of the Countess Marie de Sormiou: the only “real” house of good proportions, it was nicknamed “the castle”. It became a restaurant in 1948 and has been run by the Rambaldy family for over 50 years. Open from April to October, it is very popular with the people of Marseilles for its exceptional location and its Provencal and seasonal cuisine (reservations are required on the phone on 04.91.25.08.69, credit cards not accepted).

Learn more

Did you know?

Near the bec of Sormiou is a geological curiosity: the Capelan cave, semi-submerged, which can be reached by swimming or roped up in an “adventure course”.

How to get to the Sormiou calanque

From the city centre you can get there by public transport:

  • Metro line 2 towards “Sainte Marguerite – Dromel” stop “Rond-Point du Prado”, then bus 23 towards “Baumettes” stop “la Cayolle” – then allow between 45 min and 1 h walk to reach the Calanque.
  • Access by car is possible but regulated during school holidays, bank holidays and weekends (between March and October). It is important to find out about the access  conditions before going there. Beware, the massif is arid and stony, impracticable with wheelchairs and bicycles. Bring 2 litres of water per person, hiking shoes, hat, sun cream and sunglasses if necessary.
  • Mini cruises departing from the Vieux Port with the company Marseille Croisières Calanques, which offers 2h15 or 3h15 trips. There is no drop-off, you stay on board except for some tours with a 30-minute swim stop off Sugiton, in July and August.
  • Other companies departing from the Pointe Rouge or other ports organise half-day or full-day boat trips, with a swimming stop in season, for individuals or groups (information at the reception of the Marseille Metropolitan Tourist and Convention Office).  

Reminder: Sormiou is located in the Calanques National Park. Respecting its rules means acting for its preservation, so that everyone can enjoy this jewel for a long time. The high risk of fire during the summer months due to the heat and wind may lead to the closure of the Calanques National Park.

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