An Oasis in the Mediterranean
Calanques are a geologic formation usually consisting of limestone and form a deep valley with steep sides that are in part submerged under water. Soil on these huge formations is almost non-existent and plants basically anchor themselves in the crevices and cracks in the rock. A rather impressive tenacity to life when one thinks about it.
The Calanques between Marseille and Cassis are popular amongst tourists and locals alike, for the spectacular views they offer from the several vantage points available. Many hikers roam the area and the cliffs are often used as training for rock climbers. A word of caution, if you plan on indulging in any such activity (which sounds a bit too strenuous and healthy for someone of my ilk), make sure to carry plenty of water, as fresh water sources are practically non-existent and the hot sun (though great for toasting your muscles to a honey colour) will cause dehydration.
The best time to visit Calanques is probably March through May, when temperatures are still quite cool and precipitation is rare. And if you simply want to take it easy and relax while taking in the wondrous natural beauty of the area, boat tours are available from Marseille or Cassis.
Photo credits: Abdul Sami Haqqani.
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