Calanques National Park at dawn, view over the city of Marseille.

© Theo Giacometti/Lonely Planet

Parc National des Calanques

Top choice in Les Calanques

The calanques (coves) of the coast surrounding Marseille became France's 10th national park in 2012, preserving their astonishing beauty and harbouring an extraordinary wealth of flora and fauna: including 900 plant species, Bonelli’s eagle, Europe’s largest lizard (the 60cm eyed lizard) and its longest snake (the 2m Montpellier snake). All told the park measures around 515 sq km, 85km of which is terrestrial, while the remainder extends into the Mediterranean. Don't neglect the watery bits if you have the chance.

The park brings together imposing uplands (the Massif de Calanques, which reaches 565m at Mont Puget), coves plunging narrowly to almost-inaccessible fishing towns and swimming spots, and endless kilometres of fantastic, scenic hiking.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Les Calanques attractions

1. Calanque de Morgiou


Rocky, pine-covered Cap Morgiou plunges to meet the Med at the eponymous Calanque de Morgiou – a pretty little port bobbing with fishing boats and sheer…

2. Calanque de Sormiou

2.09 MILES

The largest calanque hit headlines in 1991 when diver Henri Cosquer from Cassis swam through a 150m-long passage 36m underwater and into a cave, only to…

3. En-Vau, Port-Pin & Port-Miou

2.72 MILES

To the east of the Parc National des Calanques, the stone-sculptured coast brings you to three remote calanques: En-Vau, Port-Pin and Port-Miou. A steep…

4. Musée d’Art Contemporain

4.15 MILES

Creations of Marseille-born sculptor César Baldaccini (1921–98) jostle for space with works by Christo, Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Nice New…

5. La Cité Radieuse

4.35 MILES

Visionary modernist architect Le Corbusier redefined urban living in 1952 with the completion of this vertical 337-apartment tower, popularly known as La…

7. Parc Borély


Five kilometres south of central Marseille, this 17th-century park encompasses a lake, a miniature of the Notre-Dame de la Garde cathedral, a botanical…

8. Cap Canaille

4.94 MILES

Looming, rock-pitted and scrubby Cap Canaille (394m) forms the natural southern border to Cassis' harbour. From the top, captivating views unfold across…