Cassis & Calanques

Provence France: (ZZ-FR-Hike22)

Provence France
There are no compromises or half-measures here: the landscapes along the jagged coastline paths in the "Calanques" are as dramatic as the cities are rich in their architecture, history, and culture.
The jagged white limestone along the coast reflects the deep blues of the Mediterranean Sea, creating a symphony of turquoise inlets: the famous "Calanques". These inlets stretch from Marseille to Cassis, both of which you'll explore at length. You finish in style in Aix en Provence, atop the narrow spine of the Sainte Victoire mountain, made famous by Cezanne's paintings.

- Spectacular and dramatic coastal walking in the Calanques
- Marseille city & the lovely town of Cassis
- Walking to the summit of the Sainte Victoire mountain


This is a progressive trip, so you will be staying in different establishments along the way. 

We favour small local establishments, often family-run hotels or B&Bs, that employ local people. Selected by our track finders, our accommodations are chosen based on the friendliness of the owners, the quality of the service, the charm of the establishment and, quite often, the quirkyness (of both accommodation and owners!) that makes where you sleep an integral part of your adventure. 

Your package includes standard accommodation (with all basic comfort and services) but it is possible to upgrade to more comfortable accommodations for an extra fee.

Accommodation Itinerary - subject to changes based on availability
Night 1: Hotel Bellevue in Marseille
Night 2 & 3: Hotel Cassiden in Cassis
Night 4 & 5: Hotel Paul in Aix en Provence

Hotel Bellevue in Marseille
This eco-friendly hotel has been completely renovated in 2021. The rooms include air conditioning, free Wi-Fi access, a flat-screen TV and a private bathroom.

Hotel Cassiden in Cassis
This 2-star hotel is ideally located on the harbour front, 50m away from the beach. All rooms feature private bathroom, reversible air conditioning, flat screen TV, and free Wi-Fi access. Some rooms have a mini-fridge. They are spread over the first and second floors.

Hotel Paul in Aix en Provence
This charming hotel was partially renovated in 2021. There is a large terrace and a garden with nice views over the Saint-Sauveur bell tower. The rooms have a modern decor and include air conditioning, a TV, free Wi-Fi access and a private bathroom.

Bathroom with shower

Air conditioning



Hair dryer on demand

All breakfasts are included in your package.

Breakfast will be provided by the accommodations.


Trip Difficulty: Moderate
You enjoy regular exercise (whether walking, cycling, aerobics, etc.). You’re in good shape, used to regular and sustained exercise. You are keen to set off on all-day walks, and can handle walking uphill (slowly) for up to 2 hours at a time.Walks are generally under 5 hours, on various types of terrain -- though nothing technically difficult -- with up to 600m/2000ft of climbing per day

From Cassis to La Ciotat, there is always at least a meter between you and the cliff-edge, but please be very careful along the path. Wind gusts here can be very strong.
On the Sainte Victoire mountain walk: from the starting point, the walk looks daunting, going straight up along the spine of the mountain, with no respite until the top. But it is not as difficult as it looks. You’ll be climbing for over two hours, maybe three, but it’s all relatively steady. There are no cliff-edges, and only a very short section of scrambling to reach the cross at the pseudo-summit. You may choose to avoid that section if the weather isn’t cooperating, or if the winds are too strong.

Walking Poles
We recommend using walking poles for this holiday. Poles are helpful to increase power going uphill, but especially to relieve your knees going downhill. Walking poles take some time to get used to so we recommend that you walk with them before coming to Provence.


Sample itinerary - subject to changes

Note: this itinerary is not recommended for people afraid of heights.

Day 1: Frioul islands
Arrival on your own in Marseille. If you arrive in the morning, make sure to visit the fish market (held every morning in the old port).
Marseille city center Marseille was founded by the Greeks 2600 years ago. Marseille is the oldest city in France. A cosmopolitan pot-pourri of neighbourhoods, culture, and architecture. From the picturesque Vieux Port, your ferry takes you to "Chateau d'If" island, made famous by the novel of "Monte Cristo" (ferry tickets not included - 30min crossing). Another 15 minn ferry crossing takes you to the Frioul Islands. Other than the restaurants that you find in the port area, the islands are a protected oasis of wilderness. Rare plants are dotted about the sun-bleached walking paths that offer great viewpoints of the city. There are many swimming opportunities along the way. Return by ferry to the Old Port of Marseille.
Hiking about 9 km (2h45 to 3h) + 10m / - 10m
Meals included: none
Overnight in Marseille

Day 2: Col de la Gardiole to Cassis
A 30-min private taxi transfer takes you to the Col de la Gardiole pass, high above the Calanques of Cassis. Please note that from June 1st to September 30th, there is no car access to the Gardiole pass. You will need to walk an extra 2km (about 30 min) along the road to reach the Col de la Gardiole.
You're among a garrigue vegetation of shrubs and aromatic herbs, their perfume concentrated by the penetrating Mediterranean sun. Soon you find a shaded and deeply encased valley that descends in tight zigzags towards the sea, and here you reach the Calanque of En Vau. This is followed by a short but steep climb through the jagged limestone to reach the Calanque of Port Pin, a narrow finger-of-an-inlet complete with a sandy beach. This is the perfect stop for your picnic lunch.
The third Calanque is Port Miou, over a kilometre long but ultra-thin, lined on both sides by picturesque sailboats. At the end of the day, you walk straight into the centre of Cassis, a small village set on the Mediterranean.
Hiking about 12 km (4h) + 200m / - 460m
Meals included: Breakfast
Overnight in Cassis

Day 3: Walk to La Ciotat
You begin your walk in Cassis, on a small country lane surrounded by vines. Then, via a wide track, you climb towards Cap Canaille. At just under 400m Cap Canaille is the highest sea cliff in France, and one of the highest in Europe. Facing the vast expanse of the Mediterranean Sea the 360° view is incomparable.
From here, the walking path remains above the vertiginous cliff as you make your way along the impressive coastline. Your walk leads into the adjacent town of La Ciotat, with its stunning port, naval construction site, and its sandy beaches (you've earned a swim!).
At the end of the walk, take a taxi in La Ciotat for a transfer back to Cassis (transfer is not included - cost around 25/30 €: make sure to have cash with you).
Hiking about 12 km (4h) + 500m / - 500m
Meals included: Breakfast
Overnight in Cassis

Day 4: Sightseeing in Cassis and Aix en Provence
You start the day with a transfer from Cassis to Aix-en-Provence. A market is held every morning on the "town hall" square in Aix en Provence.
This is a day of leisure with a morning stroll around Cassis. In the early afternoon you are transferred to the beautiful city of Aix-en-Provence. Aix is a lively university city and unapologetically bourgeois: regal stone fountains line the Cours Mirabeau, behind which 17th and 18th century mansions now house chic shops and banks. A labyrinth of winding streets in the centre of town unveil a wealth of historic buildings, squares, and shops of all kinds.
Meals included: Breakfast
Overnight in Aix en Provence

Day 5: Sainte Victoire & Vauvenargues
A short morning transfer takes you to the start of the walk at the imposing foot of the Sainte Victoire mountain. It's here that the impressionist painter Cézanne tirelessly painted landscapes, immortalizing the mountain ahead. A jagged spine soars to the 1000m summit and that is your day's goal. Though it may look imposing, there is no scrambling involved.
On a clear day, from the summit, the snow-peaked Alps are visible to the north and the Mediterranean to the south. Once at the the top, you can choose to continue walking along the spine, or descend to the village of Vauvenargues, where Pablo Picasso found his eternal rest.
A local bus will take you back to Aix en Provence (bus ticket not included).
Hiking about 10 km (4h30) + 650m / - 650m
Meals included: Breakfast
Overnight in Aix en Provence

Day 6: Departure 
End of your trip in Aix en Provence after breakfast.

Access to paths in the summer
From July 1st to September 30th access may be restricted in the Calanques if the risk of forest fire is high. There is a risk that the paths may be forbidden as of noon on any given day or in exceptional circumstances the paths may be closed altogether. Information is available at 6:00pm for the following day from the local prefecture, either by telephone (automated message) or by internet on
Clients are responsible for getting this information. Any extra cost for extra transfers due to those restrictions will be at the client's charge.

Rates and Dates for Cassis & Calanques

Rates include:

Accommodations, All breakfasts, Local transfers described in the itinerary, Emergency phone number & Road Book

Packages and Options

* prices are per person based on double/twin occupancy

Transfer and Other Charges:

2023 Make your own way to Marseille on Day 1
2023 Possible accommodation upgrade - inquire for rates
2023 Half-board supplement (5 dinners included total) - please inquire

Season Seasons  Min / MaxReserve
C 2023 03/01 - 03/31 6d / 5n 6 day Self guided walking to... 2 /6 Reserve
A 2023 04/01 - 04/30 6d / 5n 6 day Self guided walking to... 2 /6 Reserve
B 2023 05/01 - 05/31 6d / 5n 6 day Self guided walking to... 2 /6 Reserve
A 2023 06/01 - 06/30 6d / 5n 6 day Self guided walking to... 2 /6 Reserve
A 2023 09/01 - 09/30 6d / 5n 6 day Self guided walking to... 2 /6 Reserve
B 2023 10/01 - 10/31 6d / 5n 6 day Self guided walking to... 2 /6 Reserve
B 2023 11/01 - 11/15 6d / 5n 6 day Self guided walking to... 2 /6 Reserve

Dates Note:

Rates do not include:

All lunches and dinners, Drinks, Transfers before and after the trip & Entrance fees

Other Info
Meeting: Marseille
Airport: Marseille

                                 Aix-en-Provence area














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Source: NOAA

The Provençal climate is characterized by the bright and ever-present Provençal sun. The winds and rains are sporadic year-round.

Winters are most often mild and sunny, with incredibly clear skies. This is a great season with incredible lighting.

Autumn & Spring, with their mild weather, can sometimes bring with them more abundant rains. 

Summer months can be very hot and dry, with occasional thunderstorms that cool the air. 

We recommend visiting between March and June or September and November, when the mild temperatures are ideal.

Mistral Wind
The mistral is a strong and turbulent wind that blows in gusts. It cools the hot summer temperatures and produces a brisk chill in the winter. 
It is always accompanied by the sun, an intense blue sky, and spectacular visibility.

What To Bring: