When people talk about "Les Calanques" it actually covers an area that is almost 20 kms long with several climbing sites. Between Marseille and Cassis the Mediterranean coast forms one of the finest limestone massif of the world, wild and well preserved, despite being very close to the civilization: the Calanques de Marseille. All the Calanques are truly amazing, a unique environment, breathtaking and world famous! A spectacular area and a magical place to practise many outdoor activities, including hiking and above all climbing. The white limestone of the Calanques overlooks narrow fjords and a blue and turquoise sea with unmatched aesthetics and offers unforgettable sensations.
Main sectors are:
- Calanque d'En-Vau
- La Guardiole
- Calanque de Sugiton / Luminy
- CALANQUE DE MORGIOU
- Calanque de Sormiou
- Calanque Les Goudes
The great thing is that you can climb almost all year long, apart from summer where it can be hot and closed for fire risks.
The landscape is stunning, as you climb right above the blue Mediterranean Sea !
The Calanques are also famous for two of its most passionated climbers :
Gaston Rebuffat and Georges Livanos (known as "Le Grec").
- HOW TO REACH CALANQUE DE MORGIOU :
From Cassis, take road D559 west towards Marseille.
After crossing a beautiful plateau, you will drive down to the East side of Marseille.
When reaching the "Mazargue" round-about, turn left and follow signs saying "Baumettes". After a couple of kilometers you will then follow signs saying "Morgiou".
Keep driving on a winding road up to the Calanque.
About 30 minutes from the camp site by car.
In Les Calanques, the entire rock is limestone.
It's not always perfect as there can be bushes and rotten rock, but usually the rock quality is very good.
Routes can be up to 150m high. A few are long horizontal traverse.
To descend, sometimes you have to abseil, sometimes you can walk down on the other side.
As there can several pitches the usual climbing gear is need :
2x 50m ropes
Quickdraws and sling
Helmet (highly recommended !!)
Sun cream and lots of water in summer (undoubtedly)
Here is a description of the climbing areas in Calanque de Morgiou :
|Vallon des Escampons
|5b to 6c
|Parc des Baumettes
|2b to 7a+
|4b to 6b
|5a to 6b+
|5a to 6c
|Crêt de St Michel
|1 to 5
|2b to 7a
|3c to 7a+
|1 to 3
|4c to 8a
|1 to 7
|3b to 6c+
|1 to 6
|2b to 6b+
|Anse du Figuier
|1 to 2
|3b to 7a
|1 to 10
|2b to 7b
|1 to 8
|3a to 8a
The area is located inside the Calanques National Park. The climate is arid and the winds may sometimes be violent; this factors, together with the closeness to the urban areas, make this environment particularly frail. Fires risk is very high; Sormiou, Morgioux and Callelongue routes are closed from 7h to 19h starting from June to the end of September. Fires, free camping and bivouac are absolutely forbidden. Check the park official website to know the prohibitions and permissions for the access during the summer months: Calanques National Park.
The Mediterranean climate – sunny and very mild – is extremely dry in this area; the precipitations are very few and centred on rare rainy days, but sometimes becoming torrential. Eastern and North Western winds – the last one is the famous “mistral” - sometimes may be extremely violent. The Calanques are almost entirely molded by the urgonian limestone, a white sedimentary and hard rock having an excellent quality.
The main place to stay is located in the small town of Cassis (20 kms East of Marseille). There you can find shops and petrol easily.
The camp site is:
Camping Les Cigales
Avenue de la Marne
Tel 04 42 01 07 34
It would be a mistake to stay in Marseille as there can be traffic jams (second biggest city in France after Paris... 1 million people),
and there is no camp site.
All year round excluding the summer really too hot and with various access restrictions as said in the Red Tape chapter. Local climbers adapt themselves to the climate, climbing all around the year and choosing the sunny sides in wintertime and North faces during the hot season. Anyhow my advice for planning a climbing trip is to choose the period from October to May.
“Escalade Les Calanques” by Andrè Bernard - Gilles Bernard - Pierre Clarac – Hervè Guigliarelli – Bernard Privat Ed. Nota Bene
"Alpes du Sud - Provence" by Hervé Galley - Editions Olizane
“Calanques Escalade” by Jean Luois Fenouil and Cèdric Tassan – Ed. VTopo
Map: "Les Calanques de Marseille a Cassis" 3615 IGN 1:15.000