Lonely Planet Writer

You will soon be able to hike along a stunning 60 km route from Marseille to Martigues

If you’re looking for a fresh hiking challenge on holidays, a new 62km coastal hiking route that will operate between Marseille and Martigues in France from May has just been unveiled. Called the Grand Sentier de la Côte Bleue, or the Big Blue Coast Trail, it’s going to be very picturesque as it takes in little French villages, seaside coves, cliffsides and hills along the way.

The Vesse cove beside the Niolon Viaduct on the Côte Bleue line. Image: Chris Hellier

The starting point of the trail is at Le Rove in Marseille, and the big bonus is that it will offer almost constant sea views as it continues to Martigues. One advantage is that the new route will connect with around 17 hikes of between 6km and 24km in length that are already in existence. This makes it suitable for a wide range of people, as hikers can choose shorter or longer routes, depending on what suits them. It will also appeal to holidaymakers as each loop will be accessible by train, as the trail has been designed to link in with existing railway tracks and stations.

A new 62km coastal hiking route between Marseille and Martigues has been unveiled Image: nontoxic66/Budget Travel

Two years of work went into planning the route, which will be signposted with blue arrows. New challenges include the 6.5km-long ‘La Boucle des Calanques’ or ‘Cove Loop,’ which includes a 350m climb. One attraction for nature and botany-lovers is that more than 600 species of plants have been identified along the way, 59 of which are protected and 16 that are under threat of dying out.

Niolon Viaduct on the Côte Bleue Line that runs from Marseille to Martigues. Image: Chris Hellier.

A map of the new  Grand Sentier de la Côte Bleue route will be available to print from the Bouches-du-Rhône tourist information website here from the beginning of May.