Sunday, September 19, 2010

Cassis: Les Calanques, Port Miou, Porte Pin et Calanque d'en Vau.

The Calanques between Marseille and Cassis is my favourite French Mediterranean coast line. It’s 30 km. of no permanent dwellings, fantastic scenery all the way and good for swimming May till October. It’s also well known for climbing for those that fancy that.

The area is normally closed to the public from 1st July till 15th September (except for morning walks till 11 am) because of the risk of forest fires. But call 0811 201313 for exact information.

Approaching Cassis by car, simply follow the well signposted route to “Les Calanques” with parking on the Presque Iles (Port Miou). On the way there, just west of the town centre, you pass a small beach with a car park on the opposite side of the road (La Plage du Bestouan). I normally take my coffee here before walks (Henry Blanc coffee from Marseille at the café along the road there!). Drive on, following signposts for Calanques and Presque Iles, and another 3 minutes you park you car along Avenue Noire Dame, or at the end of this Avenue, where there is a car park. The best place to park is around the point where this Avenue is at its highest, because here the trail out to the calanques starts.

The trail (marked 8a on the local map) starts off by crossing down to Avenue des Calanques and hen take the main trail (trail 8) out along Calanques de Port Miou. You gain a little hight and I suggest you take right and follow trail 8b all the way up to the Youth Hostel (Auberge de jeunesse) at the 192 meter     point. Here you head straight south, but only for about 150 meters, where you turn right along trail 7a, marked for Maison Forestiere. You meet the main trail 7 at the 209 meter point near the Maison Forestiere, and simply follow this all the way down to Calanque d’en Vau for lunch and a swim.


If it’s during the winter, or you simply fancy the lunch high up with a really good view of the sea and nearby islands, take trail 8 (GR51 & 98) to the right up to Col de l’Oule and follow trail 2 out to the view point (Belvedere d’en Vau).
From the beach at En Vau, return back again the same route for about 10 minutes before you turn right up trail 8 (GR51 & 98). This is a short but breathtaking climb that will take you anything from 10 to 20 minutes, depending on fitness. Once you are up on this plateau, don’t continue trail 8 straight for Calanque de Port Pin unless you are in a hurry. Use a good hour on the magic rout along the two calanques by following blue markers all the way (trail 4). The views along this route are just too good to be believed, especially late in the day when the sun is right and you have the back drop of Cassis town and the large cliffs on the eastern side (highest cliffs along the coast of France – Cap Canaille – 400 meters strait down).
Finally at the beach Calanque de Port Pin, take another swim, or follow trail 8 (GR 51 & 98) up the hill towards Cassis (30 minutes to the car). On top of this first hill, don’t follow the main trail to the left, but go slightly to the right and you see a large trail going down to the left much closer to the sea. Simply follow this trail along the water front and you eventually join up with the main trail at the large flat area (old quarries). You are now back where you started. Return to the car the same way as you came.

Shorter hike for high summer (4h)
When the weather is hot, start early in the morning. On this particular hike we started at 8.30 and stayed along the coast line almost all the time. First head for Calanque de Port Pin, but don't go down at first. Take the "tour" out to Pointe de la Cacau, following close to the sea at each side. You will be back and down on the beach at Calanque de Port Pin at around 9.30. 

Now follow the blue trail along the sea going south-west (you can start on the unmarked trail close to the sea, and climb up to the blue trail a bit later on). Walk all the way around on the blue trail. Make sure you get the nice views of Calanque d'en Vau from in front of the Refuge de Piolet (small cottage) and other places along the route. You end up on the central junction where you meet the GR51/98 trail, and you follow this trail down to the beach at Calanque d'en Vau (steep at first) where you will be around 11.45.

We left the beach at 13.00 and took the direct route back to Cassis. It takes about 30 min. back up to the central junction, another 20 min. to the beach at Calanque de Port Pin and perhaps 40 minutes from there back to the car at about 14.30. All the times given here is included plenty of breaks along the way (more than usual because of the heat).

Basic information:

Duration:        6h (including 1h for lunch)
Distance:        14 km.
Ascent:           550 m
Difficulty:      Moderate
Start/finish:    Cassis (Parking le Presque Isles)
Map:              IGN Les Calanques de Marseille a Cassis (1cm=150 m)

VisoRando Lien.
Pour le fichier GPX, vous pouvez télécharger à partir d'ici (voir ci-dessus) ou mettre à jour via ce lien VisoRando où vous pourrez également voir l'itinéraire sur une bonne carte:

For the GPX-file, you could download from here (see just above) or go to this VisoRando link where you also will see the route on a good map.

If you have problems with this VisoRando link, download the GPX-file from above and import it to VisoRando or other application.

18.06.2021, Chloe: High summer shorter walk (6h total). This walk has become more "difficult" with the years, or is it us that is getting older? 12 km, 500 m, moyen ++, passages très escarpés pour descendre dans la calanque d’En Vau.

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