Since moving to Cambridge, England this last year, we’ve missed the mountains of Southern California. We’ve been using our travel to fill our hiking void, and there seemed no better place to go than Southern France in the spring. We planned a trip to the tiny port town of Cassis, a great base for hiking Les Calanques. This hike in Parc National des Calanques starts from the western edge of Cassis, and takes you up and down through limestone cliffs to the first three of the nine inlets of Massif des Calanques: Port-Miou, Port Pin, and En-Vau.
This is more than a walk in the park, but we saw plenty of kids on the trail. You’ll want to make sure you have comfortable shoes and enough water as it’s about 1.5 hours each way at a moderate pace.
Getting to the trail
Starting from the port in Cassis, walk north west along the promenade, and then up a set of stairs that pops you up onto Avenue de l’Amiral Ganteaume. You’ll pass Plage du Bestouan and eventually take Avenue des Calanques to the start of the hike, right before Port-Miou.
Here’s a link to Google Maps.
As we entered the trail for Les Calanques, we immediately passed Port-Miou, a small harbor filled with over 600 boats. Fun fact, this area is an old limestone quarry used for the Suez Canal.
The trail is well marked with red and white stripes as part of the GR 98. You’ll soon get to Port Pin, with a small sandy beach and shallow waters great for swimming. If you already need a break, this is a great stop for a swim.
The third calanque, En-Vau, takes the most effort to get to, but pays off in both the views before you descend into the rocky valley and the beautiful beach below. Once you reach the highest point, the trail looks very steep and there’s no water in sight, which made me wonder how much further we had to go. Never fear, crystal clear, bright green waters are less than a half hour away.
Even though En-Vau was the furthest away, it was by far the busiest of the three when we did the hike on a Friday in late April. I can imagine it gets much busier on the weekends and as the weather gets warmer in the summer. These bright green waters are an incredible ending to hiking Les Calanques. We enjoyed some sandwiches on the rocky beach along with the rest of the crowd. If it’s a Friday, stop by the farmer’s market in Cassis before heading out for the hike and assemble your sandwich with ingredients from local vendors. Most food is sold by the kilogram, so we bought just enough bread, tomato tapenade, and salami for two delicious sandwiches. There were plenty of people who braved the chill of these colder waters and dove in. If the weather had been any warmer, I might not have been so chicken and jumped in too.
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