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Kayak or hike the Calanques? Cassis itinerary ?

Would love any opinions here. I know the hike is long but also know the kayaking could be tough if the Mistral kicks up. We are a family of five with a fair amount of experience in both hiking and kayaking, though ocean kayaking can be a bit tougher than river Kayaking.

Any other advice for the Cassis area would be great. We have two days there coming up in a few weeks.

Posted by
8502 posts

In a few weeks, it won't be Mistral season yet, so that shouldn't be a consideration. This is a sea, not an ocean, so it doesn't have the same size waves. The difference is approaching the Calanques from the top when hiking or the bottom in a boat. It's less crowded by sea, as there are a lot of people on the trails in summer.
Cassis itself is quick to visit. However, you may want to hike to the top of Cap Canaille your second day if you spend the first day kayaking. It took us a couple of hours to hike up starting from near the Calanques and it's worth the effort.

Posted by
2845 posts

It doesn't take a mistral-level wind to kick up unpleasant waves on a large body of water, whether ocean, sea, or lake. I've been blown off the water kayaking in a sheltered bay off Puget Sound (Sequim Bay). I was with a group of very experienced kayakers and a few beginners like me. The wind came up suddenly and the swells reached two feet. The leader said we needed to head for shore---fortunately there was a good landing spot!

But you shouldn't let that keep you from kayaking. Just pay attention to the forecast and have a back-up plan. In the heat, as noted above, you are much better off on the water than hiking in the sun. Not to sound like an alarmist but at least three hikers have died in Arizona in the past week or two. If you do hike, remember to carry lots of water and salty snacks.

Posted by
8502 posts

Let me reassure that the company won't allow the kayaks out if it is windy, though Sasha's right about weather changes. I was once on a tour boat to the calanques that turned around and went back into Cassis on a windy day--but that was an April. OTOH, there is more likelihood of fire danger on the scrub-covered plateau (La garrigue) on top of the Calanques at this time of year. The danger level will be posted.

Posted by
44 posts

The information given about the Mistral is incorrect. There is no "season" for the Mistral. It can and does blow any time of the year. As I type there is quite a strong one blowing outside my window, cooling things down quite nicely ! I'm quite sure you wouldn't even be allowed out on a kayak with this strong a wind and even if you were, it wouldn't be fun. It might be a sea, but the waves can get quite ferocious.

Another issue for you concerning hiking the Calanques will be the fact that due to the dryness and heat, the trails are often closed to hikers in the summer (fear of forest fires getting started).

Best bet by far is to contact the tourist office in Cassis for info on both kayaking and hiking on the day you want to go.

  • Kevin
Posted by
16 posts

You can rent an unsinkable hard plastic zodiac type power boat from a company on the Cassis pier called CPF (that may not be the exact right initials -can't remember. Google cassis boat rentals and it will come up. The type of boat is called a sans permis - without permit. Might be a better alternative to kayaking. It's a pretty good distance from the harbor to the calanques.