Calanques photo calanques103.jpg (7 k) The calanques are deep narrow inlets, sort of Provencal fiords, in the rocky cliffs along the coast between Cassis and Marseilles.

 | Aubagne 12 km | Bandol 25 km | Cassis | La Ciotat 9 km | Marseille 22 km | Toulon 42 km |

The calanques were formed by rivers flowing into the sea, submerged aeons ago by the rising level of the Mediterranean. The long narrow inlets in the high white rocks are truly impressive, some with tiny harbors or beaches at the ends, and rock climbers scaling the walls along the sides. They've provided safe haven for sailors during storms for millennia, and today the clear blue-green waters are even more popular in good weather.

Boat trips

Boat trips to the calanques are fun to arrange. Walk along the line of boats at the Cassis harbor and see which ones are filling up for which trips. They'll be going to a set of 3, 5, or 8 calanques. When you find a boat going to the set you want, that still has good seats available, pay and get in and wait for the departure.

3 Calanques; 0h45 (about 10 €)
Port Miou, Port Pin, En Vau
5 Calanques; 1h (about 12 €)
Port Miou, Port Pin, En Vau
Loule, Devenson
8 Calanques; 1h30 (about 15 €)
Port Miou, Port Pin, En Vau
Loule, Devenson
Oeil de Verre, Sugiton, Morgiou

Cassis Stone

photo Quarries along the calanques have provided a dense white limestone for centuries. One of the first "modern" ones was the Cacau quarry in 1720. Cassis stone has been used around the world, for things as divers as the base of the Statue of Liberty, the Suez canal and the quays of Alexandria. Its durability makes it excellent for lighthouses, and it was used to build the Cassis lighthouse and the 60-meter high Marseilles lighthouse. You can still see ancient stone structures [photo-4] that were once used to load the tartins, sailing ships that transported the stone.

Nature

The white stones growing up out of the sea are partially forested with Pin d'Alep and the scrubby kermes oak. The area is also rich in our regional staple of scented herbs: rosemary and thyme. Prickly yellow sow thistles grow sturdily in the rocky ground, and cistus is found just about everywhere.

Calanques National Park

The Calanques are destined to become the Parc National des Calanques in 2011. It will be France's 8th national park, and the first national park of Europe in a pre-urban zone — at the edge of Marseille.

The Calanques National Park will be created in two zones: an internal zone that's closely protected and a surrounding zone with somewhat looser rules and the involvement of local communes and groups.

The internal core zone will include such outstanding sites as the Frioul Islands, the Riou Islands, the Ile Verte and the Cap Canaille.

The entire park area will encompass 2200 ha of marine area and 6500 ha of land area, include the communes of Aubagne, Camoux-en-Provence, Cassis , Ceyreste, La Ciotat, Cuges-les-Pins, exterior Marseille (outside the central area), La Penne-sur-Huveaune, roquefort-la-Bédoule, Bandol, Saint Cyr-sur-Mer, La Cadière-d'Azur, Le Castellet.

History

The chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours at the head of the inlet was built in honor of Avignon's Pope Gregory XI's refuge here during a storm in 1376.

Hiking

Refer to the Cassis page for information about maps and hiking in the Massif des Calanques.

Lodging - Hotels