After I spent some time in the mountains of the Jura Region and the Gorges du Verdon, it was time for some beach! After spending some time with friends in Toulon, I took off to Cassis. I spent one night in a lovely camper spot in Cuges Les Pins, before arriving in the town of La Ciotat. This is were I parked my campervan two nights while I was exploring the area and went hiking in the Calanques area.
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Overnight in La Ciotat
La Ciotat has a lovely beachfront on the opposite site of the bay of the city centre. Parking overnight is allowed here as long as you don’t show “camping behaviour”. There were many more camper vans there so I felt totally safe. Waking up to the sounds of the ocean and going for a quick swim was really great! I met some Dutch people on the beach and met some cool people travelling around in a converted schoolbus. A great overnight spot in La Ciotat 🙂
One of my favourite ways to travel and work as a digital nomad is to use Couchsurfing. This is a platform where people can meet other people while travelling, or even crash at each other’s places. This time, I used couchsurfing to meet up with some locals.
I met up with a local French guy (Jessy) and he connected me with an American guy (David) who was also in the area. Jessy works in Cassis and offered me a ride there, so I could the leave the van at the awesome overnight spot. I met up with David in Cassis and we got a sandwhich, visited the Tourist Information Center and walked around the town a bit. Cassis is truly a lovely town, even though it is a bit touristy! But it is so cute and filled with great bakeries, awesome terraces overlooking the water and cute shops that I would definitely put it on my go-to or even potential honeymoon destination list!
Cassis is one of the most beautiful villages of the Provence. It is easily reached as a daytrip from Marseille or even from Avignon or Montpellier. The vibe of Cassis reminded me a bit of Hyeres, a lovely town near Toulon (if you are heading that way, you can also visit the Port Cros National Park for snorkeling and hiking). Both towns are located at the sea side and seem to be eternally sunny 🙂
At about 10am, the centre of Cassis floods with tourists and we got out of there to start our hiking trip in the Calanques. I was very excited for this after seeing pictures online!
Hiking in the Calanques – Getting there
To get to the Calanques National Park you exit the city centre. You will pass some lovely beaches (but busy in summer!) untill you get to the edges of the city.
From that point on, you will see signs displaying the way to the park. From Cassis, it’s about a 20-30 min walk to the starting point of the hikes. There is also parking lot, but very busy. You can also buy some drinks and snacks – and get a map of the area (what we should have done – keep reading).
Entering the Calanques
The first part of the hike leads by the first Calanque – Calanque de Port-Miou. There are lots of cute sailing boats laying in the bay but you cannot swim there. Then you pass by Calanque de Port-Pin. This Calanque is still a bit accessible and therefore extremely busy with elderly people and kids.
So we quickly moved on and hiked up. It’s quite a way up, especially in the hot weather. But it was worth it! There is a great viewpoint to have lunch – From this point, you have a beautiful view over the Calanque d’En Veau – arguably the most beautiful Calanque.
Because it was such a beautiful day and therefore super crowded, we decided to move on the next Calanque and see if we could find it. We were not afraid of a good hike so took a chance! We followed the paths and the crowds got thinner as we went on.
This was a big mistake haha! We walked around for hours, not really finding the way. The scenery was very pretty, but we got so lost haha! And when we finally got close to the Calanque, we found out that in this Calanque you could not swim! There was no way to reach the beach, just cliffs!! By that time, we were quite exhausted and slowly running out of water. We decided to take the quickest way out and found our way to the Auberge de Jeunesse in Cassis. It looked pretty deserted and was in the middle of nowhere, but there were some people who could give us water. YAY 🙂 From there on, it was an easy downhill hike to La Ciotat and we went straight to the beach for a swim!
Sunsets over Le Route Des Cretes – From Cassis to La Ciotat
After we recovered a little on the beach, Jessy called to go for a drive. We were taking the Route des Cretes which connects Cassis with La Ciotat and is super pretty! We parked the car along the route, hiked a bit and found a lovely hidden spot. We poured ourselves a drink and some snacks and enjoyed the sunset.
I was happy enough not driving, the roads were well maintained but so many bends and curves and steep cliffs! So I was happy to be a passenger 😉 After we got back to the La Ciotat, I ate my leftovers from the pizza from the night before and prepared for leaving the next day 🙂
It was a great end to a stunning day of Hiking in the Calanques. Although I would definitely prepare better next time, it became a truly beautiful day.
Don’t forget to bring:
- a map with the walking routes / calanques – so you don’t get lost like I did haha
- a hat against the sun – there is not that much shade once you start hiking uphill
- sunscreen – obviously 🙂
- mosquito repellent – at some pionts there were SO MANY mosquitos, incredible!
- water – lots of water – we hiked when it was 35 degrees and 1,5 liters of water was gone before we knew it.
Hiking in the Calanques was an amazing experience and exploring Cassis and La Ciotat was great! But now it was time to cross something off my bucketlist – On to the Camargue!