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Les Calanques

By: Nicholas Hobley
Country: France, Region: Provence, Town: Marseille (Provence)

Les Calanques, located on the outskirts of Marseilles and spanning all the way to Cassis 20km to the east, is one France's most famous natural beauties. The limestone massif is marked by an impressive, jagged Mediterranean coastline with deep green bays and forging promontories which offer not only breathtaking views and swims but also some of the best and most varied sports climbing in France - technical slabs, steep overhangs, single pitch extremes, multi-pitch delights, north, south, east or west facing... Les Calanques have it all.

The Massif is divided into 6 main areas: Marseilleveyre, Les Goudes, Sormiou, Morgiou, Luminy and Gardiole. Put together these host a myriad of different crags and a total of circa 2500 bolted routes and more than 1000 trad routes.

Apart from the Tiragne and Lui d'ai mentioned here, we highly recommend Cret-Saint-Michel (located above Morgiou, 70 routes from 4c to 7a), the aptly named Oasis (15 routes from 6c to 8a), Paroi Jaune (high above Marseille, long technical face climbing 6c - 7c) and the famous south facing Paroi des Toits (60 routes from 5c - 8b, SW facing), both sheltered from the Mistral and ideal for winter climbing. En Vau is a must for its sheer beauty and its multi-pitches high above the sea. And then there’s Grotte de l'ours or Nid d'aigle! Our list of exceptional crags is endless… perhaps the best thing is for you to go there and discover them for yourselves!

GETTING THERE

Drive or fly to Marseille. From Marseille take the D559 east towards Cassis and then bear off this main road to the single crags.

THE CLIMBING

The climbing style varies considerably, depending on the sectors, from steep and pumpy to vertical and highly technical.

FOOD AND ACCOMODATION

There are plenty of Gites d'etapes in the Maresille region. Wild camping is strictly forbidden in the Calanques.

NOTES

The entire Calanques are extremely fragile. Please respect the flora and fauna, stay on the marked paths, take away all litter. Respect local bans: check out www.topo-calanques.com for updated information

Petty crime and car theft are extremely common in Marseille. Do not leave anything whatsoever in your car and leave the windows open slightly to avoid them from being broken into.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

"Escalade, Les Calanques" by Gilles Bernard, Daniel Gorgeon, Christophe Kern, Bernard Privat

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SECTORS AND ROUTES
BEAUTY

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BEST TIME OF YEAR

Spring and autumn. Summer tends to be very hot in the South of France, but this makes climbing + swimming ideal. In winter the Mistral can render climbing impossibly cold.

ROPE

70m rope

GRADES

4a - 9a

ROCK

Limestone

ORIENTATION

N, S, E, W

NUMBER OF ROUTES

3500

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