A nice daytrip from Aix en Provence is a trip to the Calanques de Cassis. The Calanques is a piece of coast some 25 kilometres long between Marseille and the village of Cassis. The coast is consists mostly of white-grey rocks dotted with trees and filled with so-called "calanques" - small yet deep rocky bays mostly ending at a nice small beach that can often only be reached from the sea or by means of foothpaths. In general it is not possible to enter this area by car.
The easiest way to get an idea of this area is to book a boattrip from the village of Cassis. Many touroperators offer (not extremely expensive, but not cheap either) trips all day long. The length of the trips varies from 3 Calanques (the 3 best-known, closest to Cassis, tours takes 3/4 hours) to 8 Calanques 1 1/2 hours and even longer trips are possible.
Another idea is to take one of the foothpaths and walk in 1 or more hours to one or more of the Calanques, spend some time on one of the beaches and walk back at the end of the afternoon.
For more information (in French) and a clear map of the Calanques click here.
Cassis is the main point of departure for a visit to the Calanques. Although the Calanques are located in between Marseille and Cassis, the latter is the more logical for a visit to the Calanques.
In Cassis you can easily book a boattrip to the adjacent Calanques. Many touroperators offer (not extremely expensive, but not cheap either) trips all day long. The length of the trips varies from 3 Calanques (the 3 best-known, closest to Cassis, tours take 3/4 hours) to 8 Calanques 1 1/2 hours and even longer trips are possible.
Apart from this, the village itself is very nice as well, albeit somewhat touristy. Lots of souvenirshops and "traditional" markets. Take an hour to wander through the village, have lunch at one of the terraces and book a boattrip in the afternoon.
Two things are important to know when visiting the Calanques.
If you want to hike in this area, please remember that during the summer months, due to firehazard, you are not allowed to enter the footpaths during the heat of the day (I believe from 11AM till 4 PM). So what many people do is walk to one of the beaches early in the morning, spend the day on the beach and walk back at the end of the afternoon.
Because this area draws a lot of tourists, it also attracts its fair share of criminals. So if you pay a visit by car you best park in the village of Cassis instead of driving to one of the somewhat deserted trailheads in the middle of nowhere. Lots of cars are broken into in these deserted places.
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