As Europe's only protected park to contain land, water, and semi-urban areas, Calanques National Park (Parc National des Calanques) is a mecca for outdoor adventurers. Whether you want to snorkel and sail, kayak and climb, or hike and watch out for wildlife, France's answer to the Garden of Eden has it all.The Basics
The Calanques — known separately as Calanque de Sormiou, Calanque de Morgiou, Calanque d'En-Vau, Calanque de Port-Pin, and Calanque de Sugiton — are the park's main attraction. These brilliant rocky promontories are best discovered on a long hike or by kayak — you might even spot daredevils abseiling or cliff diving from the colossal cliffs. Snorkelers and scuba divers are rewarded with a kaleidoscope of marine life during underwater excursions to Monte Cristo, home of the prison that inspired Alexander Dumas' work of classic literature. Travelers without the desire to go underwater can explore the park with ease on an electric bike tour or fishing trip.
If you're short on time in the treasured French Riviera, consider combining sightseeing tours of Marseille and Cassis with a visit to Calanques National Park. Alternatively, opt to spend more time in the park's crystal-clear waters with a two-day scuba diving course.
How To Get to Calanques National Park
- Most tours provide round-trip transport from your accommodation in Marseille, Cassis, or the Aix-en-Provence area.
- Be sure to bring plenty of water and sunscreen to the park.
- It's best to wear comfortable shoes fit for outdoor exploration.
- Note that camping and motorized water sports are not allowed in the protected area.
Although nestled between popular Marseille and Cassis, Calanques National Park is not easy to access by public transport or without a guide. The best way to visit the national park is by boat from Port de Cassis (cruises depart every 90 minutes daily) or on a day trip from central Marseille. If arriving by car, be aware that the closest beach is about a one-hour hike from available parking lots.When To Get There
The most popular time to visit the French Riviera is during the summer months of June to September, when temperatures sit comfortably in the 70s F (20s C) and rain is nowhere to be found. However, if you prefer cooler climates and want to miss the crowds, May and June are the ideal months to head to the park.