Calanques National Park with a dog: Hiking through France's fjords
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Dramatic fjords, crystal clear, turquoise water, gnarled pines and muggy air: the Calanques National Park between Cassis and Marseille is definitely one of the most beautiful spots on earth that we have visited so far. Together with our dog Frieda, we went on a wonderful hike through the nature park - including a long break at a dream beach. In this article, I will explain how you too can make the perfect trip to the national park. First of all - the national park is not open all year round and a visit should be well prepared.
Interesting facts about the Calanques National Park
The Calanques National Park is located between Marseille and Cassis in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region. Not only is the landscape of white limestone cliffs, evergreen pine trees and rosemary beautiful to behold, the park also protects 140 species of terrestrial plants and animals and 60 species of marine animals, including eagles, dolphins and turtles. By the way: There are even wild boars living in the park, which are anything but shy, but harmless.
You can probably already imagine that it can get really hot and humid in the national park. This also means that there is a particularly high risk of forest fires here, so that the Calanques National Park is closed from the beginning of July to mid-September. Only individual, fortified sections are open to visitors depending on the weather.
It is therefore advisable to visit the park in spring or autumn. We were there in October and it was still really hot. My tip: Start hiking early in the morning. Because not only the heat can make hiking at noon exhausting, but also the high number of visitors. While we had the paths from eight to ten to ourselves, the park filled up significantly at lunchtime.
The most beautiful places in the Calanques National Park
- Port-Miou (Cassis)
- Calanque de Sormiou
- Calanque de Morgiou
- Calanque de Sugiton
- Calanque de Port-Miou
- Calanque d'En-Vau
Attention: While the bays mentioned above can be reached via paved paths, only a climbing passage leads to the Calanque d'En-Vau.
How to get to the Calanques National Park: arrival and parking
You can start trips to the park from both Cassis and Marseille. I would recommend a visit from Cassis, as from here you can easily reach one of the most beautiful beaches with a great hike with great views. You can also combine a visit to the national park with a short stroll through pretty Cassis. The best located car park is the Presqu'île, which is already on an arm of the Calanques, Port Miou. And even if the hike takes a little longer, you can also start hiking from the center of the small town of Cassis.
By the way: If you are in Marseille and want to visit the park without a car, you can reach the Calanque de Sugiton by bus. At the Prado in front of the Castellane, get on the number 21 bus towards Luminy and get off at the last stop. You are already at the starting point of the signposted hike.
Are dogs allowed in the Calanques National Park?
You can easily visit the Calanques National Park with your dog. You should only know that a leash is mandatory to protect wildlife and there are sections of the route that you could not walk with every dog. In particular, the hike to the beach (or the bay) of Calanque d'En-Vau involves a dangerous climbing passage that is only possible for dogs with climbing experience. Or you carry your dog down. But don't worry, the particularly beautiful hike to the beautiful bay of Calanque de Port Pin can really be mastered safely by any dog.
By the way, there are no water points, so make sure you take enough with you. There is enough shade, especially in the bays, only individual sections of the route are exposed to the sun.
Hike through the Calanques National Park with a dog
We started our hike at the edge of Cassis. Through a nice residential area it goes steadily uphill to the picturesque marina Port-Miou. The path now leads directly above the harbor. The view of the fjord and the harbor is beautiful, but not yet comparable to the nature experience that awaits you. Because soon it will be uphill again and you have a clear view of the park, the individual bays and fjords. The harbor is now behind you and the first feeling of nature arises. The path now meanders along the fjords. Then it leads down to a dreamy little bay, the Calanque d'En-Vau. The bay reminded us of the beaches of Mallorca. We were all alone early in the morning and enjoyed the wonderful peace and quiet. The first rays of sun have already hit the water, which is really incredibly turquoise. Then we walked a little further. It went steeply uphill to the so-called Plateua de Cadeiron. Again and again you have new perspectives over the park and the fjords. Now there are several ways to continue the hike. If you follow the Plateau de Cadeiron path, you can risk the (dangerous) descent to the Calanque d'En-Vau. We decided against it. Alternatively, a path leads away from the water to the right, so that you can make a circular hike back to the first bay. So we did it and took a second break on the beach. This time there was a little bit more going on and there was a happy, relaxed atmosphere. We lay down on the warm rocks on the left and enjoyed the autumn sun before heading back. We were glad to have started so early, because there were so many people coming towards us that the relaxed mood would surely be over soon.
- Length: 8 kilometers from Cassis
- Parking: car park on the Presqu'île at Port Miou (Cassis)
- Tips: Take enough water with you, bathing suit and towel an advantage, visit early in the morning
- Special features: no water points, closed in summer due to the risk of forest fires, busy at lunchtime
- Highlight: the beautiful bay of Calanque d'En-Vau
- Difficulty level: medium
Tip: visit a restaurant in Cassis with a dog
After the hike we still had some time left to visit Cassis. We had a little trouble choosing a restaurant, which was due to the high prices and the small selection of vegetarian options, but we found a great pizzeria with a dream view over the harbor, where our dog was also welcome. You will find the restaurant Le Bistro if you follow the harbor promenade on the right to the end. But a walk through the pretty old town of Cassis is also recommended.
Long-distance hike in the Calanques National Park
On the GR 98 long-distance hiking trail, starting at Calanque de Callelongue, you can hike through the entire park from Marseille to Cassis in 11 hours. Camping is not officially allowed, but is tolerated if you behave accordingly.