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The Calanques

Calanque Samena Marseille


(Bus n° 19, Rond Point du Prado/n° 20, in the Madrague/ a shuttle goes from Goudes to Callelongue)

Callelongue is the first calanque of the « Parc des Calanques » which strectches on 20 km, from Marseille to Cassis (Callelongue, Marseilleveyre, Sormiou, Morgiou, Sugiton, En-Vau, Port Pin, Port Miou). It is the extremity of the southern coast of Marseille, at the bottom of a long wide road bordering the Massif de Marseilleveyre (in Porvençal language « Marsilho veïré » = Marseille-the-old/ name given by the tribe of the Ségobriges who settled at the summits of the massif, around 600 AD/ in opposition with Massalia= Marseille-the-new, built by the Greeks, in the calanque of the Lacydon ). Fishing is forbidden in some zones of the park for the underwater fauna to re-repopulate.

It is a small port with fishermen rowboats and a few barracks protected of the dazzling white of limestone under the limestone, which becomes pink on sunsets, under the watchful eye of the ancient Semaphore. Divers and kayak fans can start from there.

The calanque attracts many hikers, trollers and sportsmen (GR on the site/ GR 98, GR 51 on the seaside/). Walking in the garrigue, some trails will lead you to the heights of Marseilleveyre. From its highest point (433 m.), your eyes are free to watch the Phocean City on one side (irresistible and unforgettable view on the Blue Coast, the Southern beaches, the Bonne Mère, the Corniche, the îles du Frioul and If, Planier, Maïre and Tiboulin, Riou, Plane, Jarre, les Goudes) and on the Parc des Calanques on the other side. The invasive blue of the sea enveloppes you without ever getting weary. Some paths will lead you to the caves Saint Michel, de l’Ours and de l’Ermite. The most famous one is the Baume de Sourme one of its room emerges from a small lake. The rock called « Le pas de la demi-lune » is very coveted because of its shape (cliffs which look like V-shaped open blades which seem very thin and fragile).

A panoramic viewpoint has been set up on one of the culminating points on the road accessing the calanque (next to the port/ below the path of the customs which goes from Callelongue to Morgiou). From there, after admiring the panorama, if you look down you will see four wheels, vestiges of a « téléscaphe » which had worked for 2 years (1967- 1968) thanks to the engineer, Denis Creissels and Olympic skiing champion, James Couttet. The system was composed of a machinery and yellow glazed cabins for 6 persons which allowed the brave volunteers to cross from Callelongue to the île Maïre, 10m belong to sea level under the surveillance of a professional diver (500 m. round trip/ 10 minutes/ 12 francs). It stopped because of a shortage of capitals… What a pity that no sign or plaque marks the site, as it was the first world submersible of that kind. It was famous at that time.

In that wild and dry place, there is only one restaurant : « la Grotte », particularly friendly and welcoming, full of tourists and sportsmen : outdoor terraces, large room inside decorated in a Louis XVI- style, a courtyard with 2 levels, washrooms which look like a boudoir for ladies, Outstanding cuisine and service. Advance booking is recommended.



9th district

From Callelongue, you will easily get to the calanque de Marseilleveyre, after a 50 mn walk on the GR 98 along the sea (you can also access by boat or kayak). Your efforts will be rewarded as a paradise awaits you : a beach of gravels and sand at the feet of the Southern side of the « Saint Michel d’Eau Douce” rock. The dry land is dotted with succulent plants, aloe or prickly pears. The view on the se ais fascinating with the îles de Riou, Jarre and Plane which seem to be floating on water. In the distance, you start to see the Cap Canaille overlooking Cassis.

You can eat at the restaurant « Chez le Belge ». The cuisine is very simple, but the real show here is the sea, the bathing and the quietness (even if it a a bit more crowded on summers).

Go to the East, you will find the calanques des Queyrons and then Podestat (respectively 1h and 1h15 away from Callelongue), less accessible from bathing as the water is rocky, but beautiful to see from above. As you return, look at the calanque de la Mounine, narrow and rocky ; it is best to avoid bathing if the sea is rough.



9th district

From l’Escale Borély, take l’avenue de Hambourg, then le chemin du Roy d’Espagne, to get to the Sormiou district. Following the sign of the Calanque, you will find a car park where it is recommended to leave your vehicule, because of deliquency in the low-costing housin of la Cayolle.

From above, la calanque is an unforgettable sight : the squared bay with turquoise water provides a constrast with the blue immensity. It is a welcoming and family environment with the barracks and the tiny port. Far away the îles de Riou, Plane, Jarre. On your right, le Cap Sormiou ; On your left, la Crête de Morgiou (and the Grotte Cosquer)

The sandy beach invites to rest and bath. On the water, there are a few boats and kayaks. The path on your left will lead you to the tiny port and to the happy “cabanoniers” (people who live in the barracks) wouldn’t live in any other way. They even have a beach at their disposal… The big beach is monitored in Summer, which is a privilege in the Parc des Calanques.

The other wonder in Sormiou, is the cave of the Capelan which should be visited before 1 pm, to enjoy the orange color of the rocks lit by the sun through the narrow hole. You can access it with the « le sentier noir », on the edge of the Cap Sormiou, or by the sea, with a mask and a tuba or as a diver, or with ropes and spikes from the Bec de Sormiou.

You cane at at the « Lunch » (right side) or at the « Château » (dominant position on the bay/panoramic terrace… a breathtaking experience…). Advance booking is recommended…



9th district/ bus 22, starting point : Rond Point du Prado, direction ; Baumettes Terminus.

If you come with a camper, go to the Park4night, n°120 Chemin de Morgiou (area with all amenities and wifi/ well-noted/ secured /bus stop 22 at the entrance, 900m from the shops). You will be able to visit both the town and the calanques (one hour walk). By Luminy, a path will lead you there.

If you go by car, follow the le chemin de Morgiou up to the sea. Take account of the opening hours and the seasons, like in Sormiou, or get a laissez- passer, if you book at the restaurant « le Nautic Bar ». Beautiful panorama on the bay.

The calanque of Morgiou looks like a small fishing port in operation, very protected by two embankments, with barracks and houses. There is a small beach behind the port. From the semaphore in Luminy, you will have a plunging view of the calanque where the bright white limestone under the sun provides a striking contrast with the dark blue of the sea. The Cap Morgiou, narrow and elongated can be accessed by the GR. It hides the famous Grotte Cosquer, in the calanque de la Triperie.

In the opposite direction, a path goes to the calanque de Sugiton. The Cap Sugiton hosts a marvel : the Grotte Bleue (blue cave), very easy to access either on foot or by the sea. The entrance is not very big but you can swim to enter. To really enjoy, it is recommended to be visiter before 1 pm, as the sun lits in the cave.


La Grotte Cosquer

This prehistorical cave was called after the name of the professional diver form Cassis who discovered it : Henri Cosquer. He knew the place since 1985 as he visited 2 rooms in the cove of la Triperie, at the extreme south of the Cap Morgiou. But he gave the coordinates of the location to the DRASSM (direction des recherches archéologiques sous marines) only in 1991, after the accidental deaths of three divers in the access corridor.

The cave is classified as a historical monument since 1992. The entrance is forbidden and closed by concrete blocks. The scientists Jean Clottes (prehistorian and diver) and Jean Courtin (parietal specialist) identified the discovery in an important publication in 1994. In 1992, a 3D movie was shot : « Le secret de la Grotte Cosquer ».

This cave is very important to understand the beginnings of humanity. It is accessible via un 175 m tunnel, 37 m below the sea level. 20 000 years ago, during Ice Age, the sea level was 120 m lower, but as ice melted, water flooded a part of the cave : four rooms are under the water and 6 are on the surface. It has never be inhabited but one think it was a place for cults, ceremonies or drawings. Fragments of shells from sea, traces of fireplaces on the grounds and blades made of flint prove human presence.



9 th district of Marseille/ Bus n° 21, starting point : Rond Point du Prado, direction : Campus de Luminy (Faculté des Sciences /Ecole d’Architecture/Ecole supérieure d’Art et de Design…8000 students). By car, after the Rond Point du Prado, follow the bd Michelet ; before going to the Gineste, take the avenue de Luminy to the car park.

A waymarked path (GR 51/ signposted in red) will easily lead you to the calanque, through the garrigue and the pines, after 3,2km, in less than a hour. Before getting there, don’t forget to look at the belveder of the « La Tour d’Orient », 2,3 km away from Luminy. The palce looks like a boat prow thanks to the plain protection barriers. Wavering between heavens and oceans, you don’t know what to look at. At an altitude of 250 m above the sea, the calanques of Sugiton and of Morgiou are very close, the îles de Riou and Plane, the Cap Canaille which overlooks Cassis... The orientation table will help you by giving you more details…

The calanque de Sugiton’s highest point is the Mont Puget (565 m). From above, you will see the mosaic of colors of the seabed : it is a patchwork of turquoise blue, emerald and navy blue. One of the beach is sandy, the other one is rocky. A central island with an elongated shape was nicknamed « Le Torpilleur » (the destroyer) has become a symbol of the bay.

The place known as « des Pierres Tombées », was known to be a naturist area but it was closed in 2006), due to heavy land-slide.

You can also visit the calanque by boat or kayak. Shuttles go from Marseille to Cassis.



9th district.

The shuttle from Marseille to Cassis can get you there. But if you want to walk, you have to drive to le col de la Gineste (D 559) (access at the end of the bd Michelet, after the obelisk) and from there, at about 3.5 km, take route Gaston Rebuffat (Closed in Summers). When you see the sign « Maison Forestière », there are only 5km left until you get to a car park. It is also possible to access it via the calanques de Port Miou or de Port Pin, near Cassis, via the Gr 98-51 signposted in red and white, until the path coming from sentier d’En-Vau.

This calanque is a reward ; it is dedicated to good hikers (4,5 km/ 50 minutes / even longer to go up). At the beginning, a large path circumvents the Maison Forestière ; at the col de la Gardiole, you can distinguish the sea and the Cap Canaille overlooking Cassis, above a vegetation made of pine and cypresses. Further the GR signposted in red becomes narrower. It is a sudden path in a shaded and wild valley. Near the belvedere and the orientation table you will overlook the calanque, and even lower the îles de Riou, Plane, Jarre, the calanque de Sugiton, the Pierres Tombées, Cap Morgiou, and further Cassis’cliffs.

Enjoy this stunning view : a narrow, elongated and tricolored bay (turquoise, emerald blue, navy blue), bordered by very high sheer cliffs, which look like a sawtooth, and remind organ pipes. That’s probably why it is called « La Cathédrale ».

Your efforts are rewarded by a beach of sand and stones ; the water is fresh as the high cliffs stop the sun rays early in afternoons. It is recommended to go there on mornings. In this cathedral, people say you can see the « Doigt de Dieu » (God’s finger). It is a high and narrow rock which goes up to the sky.

The calanque is much loved by hang gliders. They have the choice between all these vertical walls du choix ; many tracks are equipped and classifies by difficult levels. In sich a fantastic setting, many kayaks, divers and boats come to have fun and relax.

Above the calanque, the youth hostel « la Fontasse », is a former Provençal farm managed by the town of Cassis. Opened from March to September, from 6am to 11pm. Community life, bunk beds ; entirely ecological (solar panels, rain waters in cisterns, wind turbines, selective sorting, biodegradable cleaning products). Well-exposed. Beautiful view on the sea. /12€ the night/ Tel. 04 42 01 02 72).

The refuge du Piolet, very close to the calanque, is not an accomodation, as the building is just composed of walls and a roof.

Firecamps are forbidden everywhere, as well as spending a night under the stars.


Port Pin

9th district

This calanque is easy to access. It is situated at the east limit of Marseille ; district Vaufrège. Access by the sea (shuttles from Marseille, Cassis, la Ciotat, Bandol, Sanary /mer) of via the path of Port Miou. In Cassis, follow the avenue des Calanques; you will get to a big car park. Then you will walk (for about 25 mn), along a quarry, on the east shore of the long, narrow and tortuous calanque de Port Miou, which is also the town’s marina.

On your way to the calanque de Port Pin, go and see the pointe de Cacau. You will see the vestiges of the hoppers which were used to discharge the stone block extracted from the quarry into the ships.

20 m below these hoppers (facing the cap Canaille overlooking Cassis), below water, there is a cave; between 1968 and 1972, excavations have been undertaken. Objects found revealed a human presence : sharpened flints, elephants, deer, rodents, birds and horses bones. Scientific studies have revealesd this cave is 200 000 years old.

If you turn back to take the GR 98-51 singposted in red and white. At the beginning of the presqu’île de Cacau, you may be lucky enough to hear the breath of « La Narine de Neptune » (Neptune’s nostril), also called « Le Trou du souffleur » (the blower hole), if the sea is rough and enters it with strength.

The arrival in the calanque de Port Pin, long and tortuous, is very appreciated ; it is a small family beach, easy to access, made of sand and stones. Water is bordered by rocks which touch it in a gentle slope. That offers even more place to relax, eat or admire this setting which provides a striking contrast between the turquoise and navy blue and the white limestone. Alep pine have grown between the cracks (they have given this heaven place its name), protected by the Mistral. This calanque seems to be big enough to host everyone.

There are boats, kayaks and paddle-boards nearly every day. Underwater flora and fauna offer the divers incredible marvels.


Port Miou

To access it, take the avenue des Calanques, in Cassis. A big car park is available.

It is the only calanque of the « Parc des Calanques » which is in Cassis. Its name means « port meilleur »(better port) as it is protected from eastern winds and from the mistral and it is as deep as a fjord ; the most beautiful one before it was damaged by the hammer drills and explosives from 1907, in the former quarry of Solvay (closed in 1982, a few years after it was classified/1975). It is situated along the path which follows the deep calanque and leads to Port Pin. In the quarry, rocks were carried out by boats to the Salins de Giraud, to extract lye. It gave rise to controversy from the very beginning, because of the disastrous effects of the exploitation on this jewel of the Mediterranean Sea. Its flanks are deeply scarred.

The stacking of successive layers gave Cassis’ rock an extreme resistance and a beige and orange color. It is easy to extract.

In other quarries of the town, this rock was transformed for an utilitarian purpose : sinks (the Provençal « pile »), fountains, pavements, funerary scuptures… In architecture, these stones were used to build great monuments in Marseille such as the Phare de Planier, le Palais de la Bourse or the Digue du Large…

12 000 years ago, sea levels worldwide have risen as the ice melted. The calanques were born in the Urgonian layer. It is not unusual to find fresh water sources emerging deeply. The most important one was discovered in 1964, in the Port Miou (100 m3 per second).
Today, the calanque has lost its ancient charm and has become a huge marina where boats are meandering in this narrow and winding fjord. There are gastronomic restaurants, beach restaurants or snackbars, a tennis-club. Canoes can be rented.

Bathing and fishing are forbidden, but you can go to the beautiful plage du Bestouan or to the Roches Plates which view on the Cap Canaille is a real delight. This Cape was carved in the « couche du Turonien » (91 millions d’années). This cliff is one of the highest overlooking the sea. The ochre color of the sandstone and the white of the limestone put on the finest shades as the sun sets.
Cassis, flooded by sea water for centuries, offers today prestigious wines, presents of the ocean floor…