Between Marseille and Cassis the Mediterranean coast forms one of the finest limestone massif of the world, wild and well preserved despite being close to civilization: the Calanques of Marseille. A truly magical place for many outdoor activities, including hiking and climbing. The white limestone of the Calanques overlooks narrow sea coves and blue and turquoise sea with unmatched aesthetics and offers unforgettable sensations.
When people talk about "Les Calanques" it actually covers an area that is almost 20 kms long with several climbing sites:
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 the Calanque de Sormiou
From Cassis, take the road D559 west direction 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 the signpost to "Sormiou" for a few kilometers. You will end up on a on a winding road up to a small pass, then down 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.
Here is a description of the climbing areas in Calanque de Sormiou :
|L'Arenas||11||1 to 3||4c to 6c|
|Colline de Lun||65||1||4a to 7c+|
|Col de Sormiou||18||1||4a to 5b+|
|La Pinède||23||1||2b to 6c+|
|Le Pouce||25||1||2b to 6b+|
|Dalle Tarzan||4||2||4a to 3c|
|Aiguille de Sormiou||10||1 to 2||3b to 6b / A1|
|Le Baou Rond||36||1||4a to 8a+|
|L'Arche Perdue||21||1||3b to 6c|
|Pyromaniaque||17||1 to 5||3b to 6b|
|Lou Spigaou||29||1 to 2||3c to 6c|
|Petit Saussois / Oasis||17||1 to 3||2c to 6a|
|Rumpe Cuou||13||1 to 5||3b to 6b+|
|Dièdre Guem||8||1 to 7||3c to 6b+|
|L'ouro||5||1||3a to 4b|
|Le Conglue||6||1 to 2||5a to 5c|
|Lui d'Aï||14||1 to 2||4c to 7a+|
|Archipel||7||1 to 4||4c to 6b|
|L'Apanaù||12||1||3c to 6a|
|Ali Baba||5||1||3b to 4c|
|Falaise de la Tiragne||53||1 to 2||5a to 7b+|
|Le Bec de Sormiou||27||1 to 10||2b to 7b|
|Cap Redon||8||1||4c to 6a|
The climbing area is situated inside the Calanques National Park; the climate is dry and the winds may sometimes be violent, with a high risk of fires. Starting from June to the end of September the roads leading to the bays of Sormiou, Morgioux and Callelongue are closed from 7h to 19h. Check the park official website to know the prohibitions and permissions for the access during the summer months: Calanques National Park.
There are several multipitches routes where the usual climbing gear is needed:
2x 50m ropes
Quickdraws and sling
Helmet (highly recommended !!)
Lots of water in summer
All year round excluding the summer really too hot and with various access restrictions. An excellent advice for planning a climbing trip: the best season goes from October to May.
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 and a good campsite:
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. However the good thing about is that it is only 3 hours away from Paris by train.
“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