Hiking the Calanques: Port Pin and d’En-Vau

This hike is probably the most popular and most accessible hike in the Calanques region, visiting the two closest inlets to Cassis. I also map out a shorter easier option for small children. Both versions are very beautiful and worth the effort, even with the inevitable crowds.

This hike is probably the most popular and most accessible hike in the Calanques region, visiting the two closest inlets to Cassis. The first at Port Pin is relatively easy for non-hikers and families with small children. The second inlet at d’En-Vau is a bit more work with a slippery, rocky trail. Both very beautiful and give you a good taste of the region. This area is also very crowded, so expect full trails and lots of people crammed into the small beaches.

Note: In summer, this area is often closed to hikers for fire risk. Check the trail status here the day before your visit. Sometimes they close the trail after a certain number of guests enter the park, so best to go early or visit in early spring or late fall.

Location:   Calanques, southern France
Trail start: Calanque de Port Miou
50 Avenue des Calanques, 13260 Cassis
Parking: La Presqu’île car park
1 Avenue Plage Bleue, 13260 Cassis
More parking options here
   
Trail: 3 km to Port Pin and back or 7.7 km full loop to both inlets
Elevation: highest point 140m, total climb/descent 350m
Condition: rocky, dirt path – no strollers
Skill: moderate
Open: closed in summer (check status), best early spring and late fall
Cost 2018: free to enter park, parking for a fee
More info: www.marseille-tourisme.com

Trail Overview

This trail is located in southern France, east of Marseille and west of Cassis, visiting two inlets, Port Pin and d’En-Vau.

Here is one of the official hiking maps of the Cassis area. We followed the red and blue trails leading from Cassis to the inlets. We did not hike in the interior.

The trail starts at Port Miou on the west side of Cassis, starting on a long dirt road along Port Miou lined with boats, then turns into a short rocky trail to the first inlet at Port Pin, where you can swim and picnic. This part of the trail is 1.5 km from the start of Port Miou and is a good option for families with small children.

After this, it’s a very dusty, rocky trail often with tricky footing to the second inlet at d’En-Vau. This path is best with sturdy hiking shoes and hiking sticks. It is not suitable for small children unless you are very motivated as they will need a lot of assistance climbing over rocks. At d’En-Vau, there is another small pebble beach where you can lounge and swim. We returned on the cliff path, labeled Best Views below, which I definitely recommend.

Pics and more details below.

How to get there & parking

Cassis can be very crowded with car traffic, with narrow roads that are sometimes difficult to navigate. The closest parking lot to the hike is La Presqu’île car park at 1 Avenue Plage Bleue, 13260 Cassis, labeled Big Parking on the map above. During low season it’s free, during high season, they charge about €8 for the day (cash). There is a small parking lot closer to the trailhead but it was unclear whether we were allowed to park there. There is some street parking, but don’t count on it.

If these lots are full, use the free parking lot Gorgettes outside Cassis with a shuttle bus that will drop you off near the trailhead or in Cassis, €1.60 round trip, kids under 6 free. This website shows all the other parking areas in Cassis.

Trail Impressions

The trail starts at the north end of Calanque de Port-Miou near the parking. You start on a wide dirt path shown below. Don’t get fooled. This is easy walking only for a bit before it turns into a rocky trail.

This is a pic of Port Miou, which is a narrow inlet lined with boats, not the main attraction. About halfway down this inlet, the trail heads up the hill and gets very rocky. Notice the faint trail markers painted on the rock: green, red/white, and yellow. We don’t know what they mean.

After about 1.5 km, you reach the Calanque Port Pin, which has a small rocky beach and lots of shallow calm water for splashing. Families with small children will probably want to make this their final destination, as the trail gets much harder after this.

There is lots of room to spread out and lots of shade under the trees surrounding this inlet. There are no services at this beach, so bring all the food and water you’ll need.

Even if you don’t hike all the way to the next Calanque, you can explore both sides of the inlet on trails, which give pretty views. Here’s a view from the footpath above Port Pin, looking back at Cassis.

Continuing to Calanque d’En-Vau

From Port Pin, we took the shorter trail through the inland leading directly to Calanque d’En-Vau. It is not a pretty trail, just climbing up about 150m in elevation through scrubby forest, no views. When you reach the top, you get a nice view across the Calanque park.

Then the trail immediately goes straight back down on a very difficult steep path on slippery rocks. The trail is marked, but not well-defined built, more just scrambling over rocks, picking your way slowly and carefully. We slipped a lot on the loose rock as well. We saw lots of groups turn back (mostly those with small children, inappropriate footwear, carrying too much stuff not in backpacks) after trying this section for a bit or even just looking at it. I was glad to have my sticks on this part.

When you reach the valley, it’s a flat path, winding through the cliffs to reach the beach shown below. Again, no services at this beach. There’s not as much shade here because the cliffs are very steep on both sides, no trail on the sides near the water.

In April, the water was icy cold, probably 16C. The air was hot enough to justify a short swim, but it was seriously freezing!!!

We saw lots of kayaks coming into the inlets.

On our way back, we took the trail that looped around the edge of the cliffs overlooking d’En-Vau. This is a much prettier trail that the on

Here’s a view of d’En-Vau from above.

Looking down the inlet toward the sea.

Lots of cliff edges to explore up here, be careful.

The trail along the cliff edge is through lots of scrub brush.

Eventually the path loops around the Port Pin, then you retrace your steps to Port Miou.

Hope you like it. See more of our Calanques posts here.

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Hi! I’m Tanya and our family has been living & hiking in Switzerland since 2005, collecting dozens of fun hikes and activities for all ages and abilities. More about us…

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