Questions, reports and tips on the Marseille coastal hiking trail

Have you already hiked through the Parc National des Calanques near Marseille? Or are you planning to hike along the coast there?

Then we look forward to your comments, tips, suggestions or questions!

24 Comments

  1. Hi! Attached are our comments on the hike along your description from April 10th to 14th, 2019.

    Before the hike:
    Arrival and departure with the TGV from/to Stuttgart in about 8 hours and for a total of around €100 highly recommended!
    First we spent two nights in Marseille and visited the city. The "Vieux Port", the area around the museum and the district "Le Panier" (the old town) are particularly worth seeing. Also worthwhile is the ascent to the "Notre-Dame de la Garde", from which you have a great view.

    1st stage
    We started about 6 km east of the “Key Largo” hotel described, since our Airbnb was between Bandol and Sanary-sur-Mer. We particularly liked the "Sentier du Littoral" and it was relatively flat. Therefore, the first stage was very feasible overall.

    2nd stage
    This stage leads exclusively through the hinterland, mainly on relatively wide gravel paths - less spectacular than the other stages. When descending to La Ciotat, care should be taken to leave the concrete path on a footpath to the left in good time, as this offers a nicer hiking experience (as a guide: there is a broken down car on the left-hand side in the forest about 50 m after the turn ). After most of the altitude meters have descended in the forest, you have to cross the small valley as directly as possible on one of the numerous paths. We recommend going left at the T-junction.

    3rd stage
    This stage impresses with outstanding views over the coast. The trail mostly follows the edge of the cliffs. Since the road "Route des Crêtes" also meanders along the coast, you often cross parking lots where many people rest.
    The destination of the stage - Cassis - is already very crowded and touristy in April, which is also reflected in the overnight prices.

    4th stage – our favorite
    Before the stage, we received helpful tips for the upcoming stage from the owner of the hostel where we stayed. We therefore left the GR 51 twice and instead chose paths 4 and later 8, which run directly along the coast. Both paths are color and numerically marked (also on hiking maps of the region).
    The turning to 4 is in a bay that has to be crossed, approx. 30 m to the left of the GR 51. At the end of the path, you will meet the GR again at a large crossroads (there are signs). If you choose path 8, you have to keep left for a small descent and leave the GR again. At the end of the 8 you end up directly on the GR again. The 8 was much more strenuous than the 4 and included smaller, via ferrata-like passages (head for heights! Takes strength!). After the steep ascent, a relatively flat section rewards you with a fantastic view. The path mainly leads directly along the cliff. Although both paths meant additional kilometers and meters in altitude, they were very little frequented and are therefore absolutely recommendable from our point of view.
    We can also highly recommend the described accommodation in “Les Baumettes”!

    5th stage
    The second part of this stage mainly leads through the more frequented part of the Calanques. There are numerous bays where you can swim. The easy via ferrata corresponds to the description on the site.

    In 03/2018 we already hiked the path described by Frank along the Amalfi Coast. In comparison, the hike near Marseille is less demanding, as you have to cope with noticeably fewer meters in altitude. We both liked it very much and we regularly recommend your site to friends who enjoy hiking! :)
    Thank you for setting up the website. We have great respect for the effort behind the detailed descriptions and look forward to further tours!

    Sunny greetings from Marseille
    Sandra & Levin

    • Hello Sandra & Levin!
      Thank you for your detailed report! You are the first to comment here and as far as I know you are also the first to have been inspired by us for this coastal walk. That's why I'm all the more pleased that you liked the hike and our recommendations! Especially if you are "frequent hikers" and already at the Amalfi Coast been on the road, you can judge that quite well :-)
      You are right about stage 2 - it is less spectacular than the others. The hiking experience increases enormously with stages 3, 4 and 5. That's why I would never recommend the hike in the opposite direction.
      Regarding stage 4 and the small "detours" with the coastal paths 4 and 8: I assume you mean the junctions with the dashed paths shortly after km 3 on my map (path no. 4) and just before km 6 (path no. 8). Is that correct?
      Greetings from Hamburg!
      Frank

  2. Hi!
    We are on our way home from Provence, tried the route you described last week. First of all: We really liked it, our coastal hiking fever was awakened! Thanks also for the GPS data, it's really impossible to get lost :)
    To the stages:
    Stage 1 was our favorite! The views are great, the bathing stop shortly after halfway is perfect!
    Stage 2 didn't really appeal to us from the area, but we accepted the sporting challenge;)
    Stage 3: We didn't have great weather here, but can imagine that the views are spectacular on a clear day! By the way, you can't rely on the tourist information in La Ciotat, because on arrival in Cassis, contrary to the information in La Ciotat, it turned out that the path was actually closed. In Cassis we put in a bathing day, great!
    Stage 4 is really phenomenal in terms of landscape, but quite steep for people who are a little more sensitive to height. Therefore - and because we wanted more time for swimming - we took a short shortcut on stage 5, from the last callanque a little along the road to Les Goudes, from there by ship to Marseille. The crossing costs 8€ pp and is a great conclusion, the stage with 10km on mostly easy paths really leaves time for swimming.
    Thank you again for your descriptions, without them we probably would not have discovered the path and thus missed a great experience! We have already browsed your website for what we want to do next :)
    Greetings from the train!
    Ute

    • Hello Ute,
      Thank you for your reply! We've just been hiking ourselves (I won't reveal where yet), hence my very late answer.
      I have included the reference to the alternative ferry connection on stage 5 in the description.
      Greetings from Hamburg
      Frank

  3. Hello Frank,

    First of all: Thank you for your effort in creating such a great website and sharing your experiences.

    Last year in February I hiked the loop trail in La Gomera with my friend. Due to a small injury we had to change the route a bit and partly move around with a rental car, but we were still able to enjoy the beauty of the island and are grateful to you because you brought us to this hike.

    At the end of September I want to do the coastal hiking trail in Marseille, this time alone. I will pull the GPX files both on my smartphone (in the Osmand app) and on a Garmin outdoor navigation system. However, since these two options only work via GPS, I have a few concerns about poor satellite reception.
    How is your experience with it? Did you also have a card with you? If so, could you recommend one for me?
    In La Gomera we got along well without a map. But since I'm traveling alone this time, I'm a little more worried about getting lost.

    Greetings from Hesse,
    Yasemin

    • Hello Yasemin,
      Thank you for your compliment on the website! I think with the double protection (two GPS-enabled devices) you are on the safe side as far as orientation is concerned. We hike exclusively with smartphones and don't have a printed map with us. There are also no extremely steep gorges on the Marseille Coastal Hiking Trail that would interfere with GPS navigation. And even if you did: you probably saved the map material in the app anyway, even if the GPS signal was disrupted. So why paper again?
      The only risk when hiking with a smartphone is actually an empty battery or that the cell phone falls down. But you have a second device with you for that.
      Enjoy France!
      Frank

  4. Hello Frank,

    I managed the hike in Marseille at the end of September well and wanted to give you feedback on a few comments in your description.
    For one, the shuttle bus from the airport to Marseille St. Charles still leaves from platform 6 and now costs €10. On the other hand, the Sentier du Littoral is still closed after about kilometer 10 (stage 1). But the bypass worked fine.
    On the 2nd stage I had the problem that at kilometer 7 a truck was parked at the side of the road without blocking the way. There was a sign on the truck that said "Chasse en Cours". Due to my lack of French and no internet connection, I went further without worrying about it. I had to realize that the sign draws attention to a hunting operation and I had to turn back. There is a bypass that is about 500 meters longer. I have not been able to find out if the hunt was a one off event or if it is regular in the area at this time of year. Perhaps this information will help one or the other future hiker.

    All in all I have to say about the hike: Phenomenal! I can only agree with the previous comments regarding the prioritization of the stages and would like to take this opportunity to thank you again for your very detailed travel report and especially the GPX files provided.

    Many greetings,
    Yasemin

    • Hello Yasemin,
      Thank you for your reply! I have just updated the information on the prices for the shuttle bus and the still existing closure of stage 1. Thanks for that! Exemplary :-)
      Many greetings
      Frank

  5. Hello Frank, we just got back from the tour. Unfortunately, we were pretty unlucky with the weather, but we still really enjoyed it. Thank you for your effort, you really don't need to organize much anymore. With your GPS data and the accommodation tips, it worked perfectly.
    Greetings from Munich

  6. Hello Frank,
    First of all, thank you for your hard work and preparation! We are currently sitting in the TGV back to Germany and have completed the hike from 29.10.-02.11. did. It was probably right after the rainy bad weather phase, because we really had dry and sunny weather without exception and were even able to go swimming.
    Here are our comments by stage:

    Stage 1: due to the relatively late arrival in Bandol, we spent two nights in Key Largo and can highly recommend it! We borrowed bikes and rode them to Sanary-sur-Mer, swimming extensively in the great bays on the way. On the first hiking stage, we misjudged the time a bit and therefore only arrived in Saint-Cyr-sur-Mer in the afternoon. Luckily we had some provisions with us. For people who, like us, like to sleep in and are not the fastest, it might be relevant for planning. Punctually at nightfall we arrived in La Cadiere d'Azur, where fortunately only one restaurant was still open (absolute tip at this point: La Chaise Bleue) - due to the low season and the upcoming public holiday, all other restaurants were closed despite the French school holidays .

    Stage 2: we took a short cut here and are already down from the gr51 shortly after the picnic area between km11 and km12 and have taken another hiking trail that has led us to a bus stop (Les Palmiers) in about 4.5km. There we could take the bus to the old town to La Ciotat.

    Stage 3: this was the only cloudy day, which is why we ran partly in thick clouds and with little visibility. Still a nice stage!

    Stage 4: Especially on the first km to Cassis there was a lot going on and there were sometimes traffic jams at the descent points to the Calanques. After a few km, however, this got lost and so we were able to enjoy this great stage "in peace"! Arrived in Les Baumettes, we had to realize that the only restaurant far and wide (Pizzeria Chez Zé) was closed. So we ordered pizza and rosé, which was also a very nice way to end the day in William's cozy Le Garage.

    Stage 5: we also took a shortcut here in order to be able to swim and linger longer in the beautiful bay 'Le Belge'. So we ended the hike at km8.5 and took the bus to Marseille.

    All in all a really great hike and a final city stay in Marseille is perfect. We are totally hooked and will definitely hike more of your hiking trails!
    Greetings from Katja and Bob

    • Hello Katja and Bob,
      great that you enjoyed the hike and that you had better weather than Ingrid had a few days before! Thank you also for the detailed report with the many tips and ideas for shortcuts - you will definitely find one or the other imitator :-)
      Greetings from Hamburg
      Frank

      • Dear Frank, thank you very much for your great directions! I did the hikes on the Amalfi Coast and Malta last year and in a week I'll start with a friend in the direction of Marseille! I read in Katja's comment that stage 2 can be shortened. Do you happen to have more information about this, for example the name of the other hiking trail? :) I've searched the internet for a while now, but I couldn't find the bus stop "Les Palmiers"..
        Warm greetings
        barbara

  7. Hello Frank,
    a friend and I would like to do the hike in August. Is camping allowed on the trail or off the trail? How often do you pass through villages/towns? Are there public toilets or cafes to charge cell phones?
    We would be very happy about an answer! :)

    Warm greetings
    ann

  8. Hello,
    we went on the beautiful and varied coastal tour in mid-October 2019 and would like to thank you very much for the great planning here. We had really pleasant weather and can only recommend October as a suitable hiking time.
    We followed your suggestion as much as possible. We combined the last two tours.

  9. Dear Frank, thank you again for your great directions! We're on the train back to Germany, we really enjoyed the tour. Here are our comments on the individual stages:
    Stage 1: The closure between km 10 and 11 was still in place, but the fence had been moved and several people walked through. The supermarket in Saint-Cyr-sur-Mer was closed for lunch, so next time we would take more water with us. Overall, we found the stage quite exhausting due to the length and the relatively high temperatures on the day. We really liked La Cadiere d'Azur. We stayed at B&B Les Oliviers and highly recommend this accommodation.
    Stage 2: Here we "shortcut" by first hiking back to Saint-Cyr-sur-Mer, spending a few hours on the beach and then walking along the coast to La Ciotat. However, the path from Saint-Cyr-sur-Mer to La Ciotat is not highly recommended, since most of it is along the road.
    Stage 3: Very nice and much less strenuous than the other stages.
    Stage 4: Beautiful stage, but from our point of view not to be underestimated because of the length - we stayed in the "Ginkgo" and therefore had a nearly 3 km longer way.
    Stage 5: Unfortunately, we couldn't complete it because one of us was not in good health. But then we took bus 20 to its terminus on the coast and hiked a bit along the Calanques. The landscape is super beautiful, from our point of view the last two days are clearly the highlight of this hike.
    Warm greetings
    barbara

    • Dear Barbara!
      Thank you for your great feedback! I agree with you on stage 4 and 5. When planning a route, I always try to put the highlights at the end of the tour. Like in a good play that increases from act to act :-)
      Unfortunately, you always have to take the landscape conditions into account when planning the tour - stage 2 is therefore noted to some extent that it mainly represents the connection between stages 1 and 3 and is less suitable as an independent hike.
      I puzzled for a long time whether there was a better way, but apparently the way you described also has some disadvantages.
      Maybe someone has an even better idea?
      Many greetings
      Frank

  10. Bonsoir,

    J'ai longtemps cherché à randonner dans ce coin mais le GR ne passait pas assez sur la côte pour moi et le CP pas assez sur les hauteurs.

    Votre itinéraire mélange les deux et est génial sur ce point. J'ai fait Toulon-Marseille du 10 au 14 octobre dernier, c'était formidable. J'ai tordu 2-3 fois vos itinéraires mais j'ai globalement suivi, la balance est idéale entre mer et montagnes.

    Comme relevé plus haut, le sentier côtier est coupé par endroits, et visiblement pour longtemps, ce qui implique des détours, parfois long en raison des lotissements privés qu'on ne peut même pas "traverser" - très désagréable d'ailleurs.

    J'ai dormi majoritairement dans des chambres Airbnb et des auberges - ce que j'ai vu des hotels est ridiculement cher pour pas grand chose, partout. Je conseille totalement l'auberge de La Fontasse, au-dessus de Cassis. Je me suis perdu en y montant depuis Cassis, le chemin rocailleux est par endroits costaud et invisible, mais ça valait le détour. De nombreux sentiers y mènent, on ne peut y aller qu'à pied de toutes façons. Il y a des perdrix et des sangliers qui rôdent, c'est superbe.

    Le cap Canaille est incroyablement beau mais assez dur, foudroyant de lumière et de pierre.

    Je ne détaille pas tout mais je vous remercie pour cet itinéraire qui m'a décidé à partir.

    Toma.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *