The Calanques of Marseille, Between Mountains and the Mediterranean


ProvenceNature and Outdoor ActivitiesCultural HeritageCoastal

Atout France/ Phovoir
© Atout France/ Phovoir

Reading time: 0 minPublished on 31 December 2022

In 2012, the Calanques* of Marseille officially received the coveted title of Parc National de France. The sumptuous cliffs, beautiful landscapes, and heart-stopping ridges that drop onto the Mediterranean coastline sprinkle the narrow beaches. Definitely a one-of-a-kind location.

The Calanques spread out across almost 20 kilometers between Marseille and Cassis. Majestic limestone cliffs form white peaks, rolling across the edges of kilometers of pine forests; mosaic walls (Soubeyranes), archipelagoes (Frioul and Riou), and magnificent islands (Marseille, la Ciotat, the Iles Vertes) are a feast for the eyes.

A Land of Contrasts

The Calanques - a true symbol of Mediterranean Provence - are known across the world. This nature oasis is located just a stone's throw from Marseille, the exuberant second-largest city in France! The site, created over the course of 200 million years, offers an incredible view of both the sea and the landscape.

The cliffsides are also home to a wide variety of fauna (the Bonelli eagle and Ocellé lizard) and wild flora, including 900 species of plants.

The sea below is also full of rich treasures: an exceptionnal world waits just below the waves of the Mediterranean, including dolphins, whales, and porpoises. With a bit of luck, you can catch a glimpse of a fin whale, the second largest living mammal after the blue whale. Closer to the shore, it's the world of seahorses, sea urchins, or mother-of-pearls, the largest shellfish in the Mediterranean.

Environmental Protection

You're sure to enjoy this jewel of nature, which - for the past century - has been the center of widespread and passionate environmental protection efforts.

Hiking Paradise

While certainly protected, there are also well-trodden pedestrian paths that make the Calanques a hiking paradise. The area offers no less than 11 hours of hiking paths alongside the GR98 linking Marseille to Cassis from the Calanque de Callelongue.

*Calanque (from the Provençal word calanco) means a valley dug out by a river, then filled in by the sea.


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