Best time to travel to Provence & French Riviera

Exploring the Calanques in Provence & French Riviera

This natural treasure of Provence and cousin to the Scandinavian fjords is an essential highlight of any trip to the region

Best time: October–May

Exploring the Calanques
Exploring the Calanques
Exploring the Calanques

Along the coast from Marseille to Cassis, there are some truly remarkable landscapes. Almost 20 kilometres of white limestone rocks, bright and clear azure water, small bays, and deep valleys make up Calanques or the French fjords. As a result of the soil and dry weather, the microclimate in the calanques is really unique. The highly porous and dry limestone is almost uninhabitable for plants -- only the toughest can survive in these conditions. Instead, lots of animals like rabbits, foxes, wild boars, lizards, and other reptiles inhabit the valleys. Temperatures are higher than in the surrounding areas in winter which make the calanques a perfect​ home for these animals. Even though access to the calanques is limited from the ground and is restricted in summer because of the high fire risk, you can easily get there by boat. Exploring this natural wonder is certainly worth the effort.

Practical info

When is the best time to visit the Calanques in Provence & French Riviera?

It is recommended to visit Calanques in Provence and French Riviera between October to May for pleasant weather. In summer, access is limited due to the high risk of fires and crowds which might be less enjoyable. Show more

Where can I access the Calanques?

Calanques can be reached by boats from the ports of La Ciotat, Cassis, and Marseille. Some of it can also be accessed on foot from nearby areas. During the summers, access may be restricted due to the high risks of fire. Show more

What kind of wildlife can be found in the Calanques?

Wildlife in Calanques includes wild boars, foxes, rabbits, and lizards. Due to the harsh climate and porous limestone, vegetation has not thrived, making it a fairly undisturbed area. Visitors can take a boat tour to have a closer look at the ecosystem and wildlife around the area. Show more

Can visitors access the Calanques on foot during summer?

During the summers, visitors are advised to avoid accessing the Calanques on foot due to the high fire hazards. Boats are highly recommended during this period. Although access might still be possible on foot from distant areas, it is important to check the latest restrictions before visiting. Show more

How is the microclimate in the Calanques unique?

The Calanques have a unique microclimate due to the properties of limestone and intense dry temperatures. In winter, when the sun's radiation is absorbed by the limestone cliffs, the region may be up to 3°C hotter than the surrounding areas. The limestone is highly porous mean that this area has a unique microclimate and supports various species of plants and animals not found in surrounding areas. Show more

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Last updated: by Eleonora Provozin