I probably went on this trip at least two years ago, but I still think it’s one of the easiest weekend trips to take from London. Not to mention, a crazy beautiful place worth traveling to from anywhere in the world. The Calanques de Cassis are just outside the charming town of Cassis along the Côte d’Azur in France. In French, the name means something like: the creeks, but they are basically just a series of inlets with some of the clearest, bluest water I’ve ever seen.
Flights into Marseille from London are crazy cheap. I think I paid £9 for my Easyjet flight home. Granted, I had just come from Italy, so it was only a one-way ticket. Still, Marseille is not the most desirable destination, which keeps flight costs low.
When you arrive in Marseille, the easiest way to get to Cassis is just to take the train. It takes about 15 minutes and costs a little over €6. A bus will then take you to the town center, or you can walk (it’s all downhill). Read this guide for clear instructions and photos about taking the train.
After checking into our airbnb, my friend and I promptly started talking to our host about the walk to the Calanques. She basically mapped the whole thing out for us and told us approximately how long it would take. It was really helpful, but unfortunately I was still struggling with foot pain at the time and her estimates were definitely based on someone in good physical health. So just to let you know, this is a very difficult walk and not fun to do in the heat of the day. I recommend leaving as early as possible and bringing lots of water!
Google maps will tell you the walk to Calanque d’En Vau from Cassis center is only 3 miles each way. In actuality, my friend and I tracked our walk at around 8 miles in total. I’m not sure if we veered from the path somewhere along the way, but I would say be prepared for an 8 mile roundtrip hike.
We left early the next morning and had the trail almost to ourselves! The first calanque you come to will be the one pictured above with all the boats, Calanque de Port-Miou. This was a very easy walk from the town and the beautiful blue water will make you excited for the rest of the walk. If you have a car, you can park at Port-Miou and save yourself half an hour of walking time.
After another 30 minutes, you’ll arrive at Calanque de Port Pin, the smallest of the three inlets. We decided to keep walking past this cove in order to make it to the end while it was still relatively early.
As we continued, the scenery wasn’t all that exciting except for a few interesting spots. There was a section further on that required a bit of a scramble downhill and I knew would be terrible on the way back up. By this time, I was questioning the expedition altogether. It was crazy hot and unlike the walking I was used to in England where it’s always cloudy and about 50 degrees.
But after another hour of walking, we rounded a corner to this view and I decided it was worth it. You really can’t see anything, until you arrive at the beach! Can you believe the color of that water?
We went up to check out the water and quickly realized we wouldn’t be spending too much time in there. It was freezing! But that was fine by me, because all I wanted was to find a shady spot to put my feet up.
WHEN TO GO
Having now completed the trail to the water’s edge, I can say that I would almost rather have done the hike to the viewpoint above the Calanques as I find the pictures more interesting from that vantage point. However, the trail was closed during our time there. In fact, even the trail we took is closed during the summer months due to the risk of wildfires. The best time to visit is either June or October when the trails are open.
Alternatively, if you want to see the Calanques from the water, you can take a boat tour or even kayak there any time of year when the water’s calm. But the tours don’t allow you to get off on the beach which is a bummer.
That evening when we got back to our hostel and for the entirety of the next day, I felt absolutely terrible. I attempted to go for a short walk around town in the morning and managed to take a few photos before I had to lie down again. I was so disappointed and felt really bad for my friend traveling with me. I know that she quite enjoyed her time in town, but still, it was awful for me. I’ve never been so sick while traveling.
Anyway, my point is that the town is ridiculously cute and worth at least a day or two of exploring and/or lounging in the sun.
Once again, this was a rather last minute trip and my friend and I were too late in booking our accommodation. We stayed in a hostel through airbnb that was absolutely fine and right in the center of town. The hosts were lovely and very helpful, as were all the people we met staying there. But it is still a hostel and therefore, not my fave place to be on holiday.
So I’m sorry I don’t have any food or lodging recommendations, but as it’s such a cute town, I know you’ll have no trouble finding some tasty food. And if you’re ever in doubt, just ask a local! I know I would love to come back and explore this place properly.