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, located about 45 minutes outside of Marseille. The western edge of Cassis borders the Parc National des Calanques, which makes it a great base for hiking Les Calanques. The Les Calanques trail 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.
➳ Read more: A Weekend in Cassis, France
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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.
Trail start: Port-Miou
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.
Mid-point: Port Pin
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 end: En-Vau
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.
Planning a trip to Cassis, France
Hotels and Airbnbs in Cassis – Cassis is a small town, so if you stay near the center almost everything will be within walking distance. We stayed in this cute Airbnb that was just a short walk from the port and comfortable fit our family of three. If you’re new to Airbnb, use our referral link here for $40 off your first stay or $15 off your first Airbnb Experience.
For a hotel with more amenities including an outdoor swimming pool, check out the Best Western Hôtel La Rade for a great mid-range option, or the Hotel Les Roches Blanches, a 5-star hotel right on the ocean with a stunning view of Cap Canaille.
Getting to Cassis – Cassis is a small coastal town in Southern France, located about 45 minutes outside of Marseille. After flying into Marseille, you can either drive or take the train/bus to Cassis.
Car Rental – Check RentalCars.com to compare prices of the world’s biggest car rental services, including Hertz, Avis, and Budget.
More things to do in Cassis, France – for more information, check out our post for a weekend itinerary for Cassis, France.