The calanques are narrow and steep inlets along the limestone coast of southern France, the most impressive ones being located along the little stretch of coastline between Marseilles and Cassis. They are romantic, wild and, being surrounded by huge cliffs, often protrude fjord-like into the landscape. While many calanques require hours of hiking or kayaking to reach, the Calanque de Sormiou is more easily accessible and still provides a true visual spectacle for visitors.
After a 15 minute drive or 45 minute walk from the main road down the hills, a sandy beach awaits next to the bright blue Mediterranean water. A couple weekend homes dot the landscape and then there is Le Château, the modest but immensely popular bouillabaisse restaurant that requires a phone reservation well ahead of time to snag a seat.
As sparse as the landscape might appear, Sormiou actually serves as a habitat for a rich flora and fauna. Over 900 plants grow here and birdwatchers will find many rare birds nesting in the steep cliffs. Swimming and sunbathing is popular, but the area is also crossed by numerous hiking trails, some more demanding than others, and the little bay is also a popular destination for visitors arriving by boat.
By car, Calanque de Sormiou can be reached in about 30 minutes from Marseilles and the road is very well signposted. However, there is only a small parking area available at the bottom of the calanque and the area is closed off to cars during the busy high season and on weekends. This is why many visitors decide to arrive either by boat or by taking public transportation and hiking in. Take the metro line 2 to Rond-Pont du Prado, followed by bus number 23 to Sormiou. From there, it’s a 45 minute hike to the bottom.