Hi, I’m Jonathan – a graphic designer, content creator and owner of a decoration shop in Paris (as well as an online shop). I was born in Marseille, by Calanques National Park, but I have lived in Paris for nearly 10 years. My passion for traveling started when I was young, as I took trips with my parents. That kicked off my love affair with travel. I have visited Calanques a few times now, and would love to share my experiences and tips with you.
Calanques National Park is located a few kilometers from my hometown. It’s a great place because you can walk there from a nearby town and still feel lost. June and September are, in my opinion, the best months to go. There are less people then, and the weather isn’t sweltering hot like in July and August. The various viewpoints on offer, for instance the one at Calanque d’En-vau, are incredible. Paradise is the only way to describe it!
My Favorite Place in Calanques National Park
There is nowhere else like Calanques National Park. This destination deserves to be explored by everyone who visits France. You can easily base yourself in Marseille and take day trips to the park. “Calanques” means creeks and they are filled with turquoise water that pairs perfectly with the rugged cliffs. Each creek can be visited by walking on foot, across pines and rocky areas, or by taking a boat. There is no better place to spend summer.
My favorite spot is Calanque d’En-vau. Most agree that it’s the best creek. The views from the panoramic trail allow you to appreciate the raw beauty on offer. Some pine trees are dotted along the cliffs that all flow down into turquoise waters. Every time I go there I’m amazed. It reminds me of the unbelievable landscapes I have been lucky enough to see in other countries, but this place is conveniently located a few steps from home.
Top Spots to Visit in Calanques National Park
If you plan on visiting, I suggest starting in Marseille – the second biggest city in France. Marseille has a rich history. Then head to Calanque d’En-vau. Afterwards, soak up the views at Calanque de Sormiou. This is the only creek accessible by car (not in summer). Here you will find a big beach and a small port. While in Marseille, be sure to venture out to the islands that make up the Frioul archipelago. These islands have deserted landscapes.
Cassis is a required visit on any trip to Calanques, where the park ends. Other destinations in the area include Provence with its colorful streets, the Les Goudes neighborhood of Marseille which is like the end of the earth, Cap Croisette is worth discovering and so too Calanque de Callelongue. And finally, Calanque de Sugiton – it’s accessible from Marseille, and the landscape is quite different to the others creeks and it’s more intimate.
Where to Stay in Calanques National Park
The two best cities/villages to base yourself at for a good few days while exploring the park are Cassis and Marseille. Depending on the creeks you want to visit (especially if you go by foot), you should know that the starting point is different. Some must be made from Cassis while others naturally begin in Marseille. If you have a car, you can also stay in Aix-en-Provence.
Creeks are only accessed on foot or by boat (except Calanque de Sormiou). So I recommend renting a car to move between Cassis and Marseilles. Having a car also gives you the chance to locate hidden gems between the drives. Cap Canaille, the highest sea cliffs in France at 394 meters, is just one example. Simply follow your nose and see where the road takes you!
Is Summer the Best Time to Visit the Park?
Summer is best at Calanques National Park if you want to swim in warm water. That being said, there are many visitors during this period. So I would say that either June or September (like I mentioned before) are ideal. Other seasons, especially spring and early fall, still offer beautiful views and luminous landscapes – but with no crowds. Both times would be superb alternatives to summer. The only downside is that the water is fresher.
One key thing to keep in mind is that since the summer of 2022, there is now a visitor regulation system in place at Calanques National Park for the summers. Calanque de Sugiton was the first creek to test the program and it now requires a reservation for visits. This system was set up to protect the creeks from over-tourism and to make each visit more special, rather than being just one of many thousands of people jostling for a beach spot.
More Travel Tips for Visiting the National Park
If you wish to discover the entire park by foot, then several days will need to be planned as the walking distances are far. Seeing it all over a weekend is probably pushing it, so I recommend at least three days. Three nights spent in Cassis or Marseilles and then you will be able to enjoy four full days at the park. Always leave a little room in your itinerary for unexpected places.
When you are out on the trails of Calanques National Park, the number one rule is bring water! Hiking can be tough when the temperatures are high. Pack at least two liters of water per person into your bag during the summer period. Also, wear comfortable walking shoes as most of the paths are rocky. Last but not least – no smoking and no lighting fires. Calanques is a preserved area that needs to be looked after. Please follow the rules.