During the summer months, the roads and sometimes even the hiking trails are closed due to the risk of forest fires, leaving only the sea route. Dozens of boats depart daily from the two cities mentioned above for sightseeing or bathing in the bays. The park covers 8,500 hectares of land and 43,500 hectares of sea, located in the communes of Marseille, Cassis and Ciotat. It is visited by 2 million guests every year. It is the only national park that includes suburbs, sea and land.
The park was established on 18 April 2012.
The park has a rich variety with rice fields, salt marshes, swamps and sand dunes.
Flora and fauna
The park has 140 protected species that live here.
The park has a very warm-hot climate in July and August (with an average temperature of around 30°C), signs warn hikers to carry at least 1 liter of water per hour. If you want to get to the coast, you usually have to calculate two hours in each direction.
The park can be visited from Marseille, Cassis or Arles on foot, by bike or by boat. From the 8th arrondissement in Marseille, take Avenue de Hambourg down south.
Fees and permits
Permits can be found at the park administration website.
- 1 Salin-de-Giraud. A village with a viewing platform over the salt mountains
- 2 Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer. A bird park along with a town, beaches, and a sanctuary.
- 3 Cosquer Cave (Grotte Cosquer). Contains several prehistoric cave paintings which date back to at least 19,000 caves with some dating back to as early as 27,000 BCE. Entry is prohibited.
The massif attracts many visitors, hikers and climbers all year round thanks to the wide choice of paths suspended between the sea and the tortuous reliefs. The GR 51-98 crosses the Calanques massif from west to east. This preserved space near major cities crystallises the problems of overcrowding in a fragile natural environment. The paths are steep, some passages are risky for an inexperienced walker, others are dizzying and dangerous due to the risk of imbalance on the ridges due to the wind. There are no water points inside the massif and shade is rare.
The creeks of Callellongue, Sormiou, Morgiou are inhabited and accessible by road. It is possible from Callellongue and Luminy to reach public transport, operated by the Régie des transports métropolitains . Cassis is also an important starting point for visiting the creeks from Port-Miou.
From 1 June to 30 September, due to the risk of fire, access to sensitive massifs throughout the Bouches-du-Rhône department is regulated. Information on access to the massifs, updated daily, is available on the Bouches-du-Rhône Prefecture website, or by calling: ☏ (at €0.06/min).
The coast of the Calanques is a famous place for scuba diving.
The Cosquer cave is above sea level, under Morgiou point, but its entrance is 37 m deep, a long hose going up towards the cave. Following a fatal diving accident, this entry is now prohibited. Its walls are decorated with paintings and engravings dating from 27,000 to 19,000 BCE. which represent terrestrial animals (bison, ibexes, horses) as well as marine ones. The entrance today submerged was nearly 100 m above the level of the sea at the time when the drawings and prints were executed, during the marine regression caused by the last glaciation.
In front of the Calanques massif in Marseille, two Roman shipwrecks were excavated during one of the first major campaigns of Commander Cousteau's Calypso, at the foot of the islet of Grand-Congloué. At the foot of Jarre Island, the wreck of the ship which brought Marseilles the plague of 1720 was found in 1996.
Half a mile east of the island of Riou, in front of the massif, the Aéro-Relic association and the Marseille-based company Comex in 2003 brought to the surface the wreckage of the Lockheed P type military aircraft. Lightning of the famous writer-aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, who disappeared on 31 July 1944 during a reconnaissance mission preparing for the Allied landings (August 15) on the coast of Provence.
Diving enthusiasts can go down to visit the wreck of the liner Liban, stranded against the drop off of Île Maïre, at the western end of the massif.
- There is a restaurant at Sormiou
- 1 Restaurant La Baie des Singes. 12:00–15:00, 19:00–21:00. A restaurant specialising in fish and seafood from the region.
- Back to Marseille