Self Guided Walking Holidays & Cycling Holidays


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The Colourful Port de Cassis
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Highlights

  • Walk from the holy Sainte Baume mountains to the French Riviera
  • Enjoy beautiful views from the Cap Canaille; the highest sea-cliff in Europe
  • Relax by the azure blue waters of the Calanques National Park
  • Feast on freshly caught seafood and 'Boullabaisse', a rich fish stew
  • Soak up the Mediterranean atmosphere with an apéritif by the port of Cassis

This inn to inn walking holiday takes you from the tranquil Sainte Baume mountains to the unique landscapes of the Calanques de Cassis on the glamorous French Riviera.

Your adventure starts in the quaint provençal town of Pont d’Etoile. Follow peaceful mountain trails to the Roman village of Plan d’Aups, passing pre-historic caves and pilgrimage sites before descending to the glistening waters of the Mediterranean.

Immerse yourself in the real French Riviera with three nights in the authentic port town of Cassis. Explore the Calanques; a national park filled with dramatic cliffs, clear blue waters and coves; some only accessible on foot or by boat. After a day on the trails, relax in one of the many port-side restaurants with a pastis or a refreshing white wine de Cassis.

Read an in depth blog of this trip here, for more information on the sensory delights of Provence.

Day 1 Arrive Marseille and transfer to Pont d’Etoile

Marseille is easily accessible, located in the South of France it is about 3.5 hours from Paris by TGV, the city also has its own airport, just 25 minutes from the city centre by bus.



A transfer from Marseille train station to your hotel in Pont d’Etoile (20 mins) is included in your tour. Pont d’Etoile is located 2km from the town of Aubagne, just north of Marseille and at the foot of the Sainte Baume Mountains. Enjoy the views from your tranquil hotel, relax by the pool or on the terrace with a drink.


Overnight: Pont de l’Etoile


Day 2 Walk to Plan d’Aups

Leaving Aubagne behind, you are immediately immersed in the Provencal hinterland of small hamlets as you climb toward the ridge above Vallon St Clair. Panoramic views of Marseille and the coast start to open up. You soon come to the interesting village of Plan d’Aups, perched at 682m, where remains hint at a Roman past. Spend the next two nights here.


Walking:  16 km, ascent: 800m, descent: 280m


Overnight and dinner: Plan d’Aups


Day 3 Loop Walk in the Saint Baume Mountains

On leaving the village you are immediately immersed in the colours and smells of the alpine meadows of the L'Ubac estate. Soon the path zig-zags and ascends steadily through the wooded Vallon de Betton. Work your way up to the Marie-Madeleine Cave, a popular pilgrimage site. She is said to have retired to this holy cave where she gave herself up to a life of penance for thirty years. Return through the shaded forest.


Walking: 14km, ascent: 570m, descent: 570m


Overnight and dinner: Plan d’Aups


Day 4 Walk to Gemenos

Follow the bed of the ancient Chemin de Fer railway which leads you directly up to the Peace Monument at Col de Bertagne. Above you towers the massive stone face of Pic de Bertagne, descend  through the herbs and shrubs.  Pass the ruins of the Cistercian Abbey and watch the source of its water bubble out from the rocks.



Walk through the park and picnic areas of the town of Gemenos before arriving at the Church of St Martin. Take a bus to Cassis, where you will spend the next three nights.



Cassis is a small picturesque port town and located just East of Marseille, it’s a firm favourite with the locals as a weekend getaway. Enjoy the relaxed, authentic atmosphere of this part of the Côte d’Azur, without the pomp and crowds of some more well-known towns on the Riviera. 


Walking: 11 km, ascent: 200m, descent: 700m


Overnight: Cassis


Day 5 Cassis Loop Walk

A taxi transfer (15 mins and payable locally) takes you to the town of La Ciotat where you start today’s walk. Look backwards for a view of Les Trois Secs, Le Bec de l'Aigle and the Isle Verte.Turning inland, you can review your routes of the previous three days as the path snakes along the Cliffs of Soubeyranes, passing Grande Tete and Cap Canaille. On reaching the Belvedere des Calanques, you descend through the quiet valley beneath La Route des Cretes before finally joining the quiet back road alongside the vineyards of Cassis.


Walking: 12 km, ascent: 800m, descent: 800m


Overnight: Cassis


Day 6 Walk the Calanques de Cassis

Start today’s walk around the Quai des Baux, passing chic waterside cafés. Pass by the up market Plage de Bestoun, lapped by turquoise blue water and make your way through the streets of Port Miou. Descend to the waterside at the Calanque de Port Miou, crammed with gleaming white boats. After a short ascent, descend back to sea level at the Calanque de Port Pin. Ascend to the Calanque d'en Vau with views of its calm water. You then descend to the Vallon d'en Vau which leads through a pinnacled, rocky ravine to the beach of the Calanque itself.


Walking: 15 km, ascent: 540m, descent: 540m


Overnight: Cassis


Day 7 Onward Travel

After breakfast check out of your hotel. From Cassis train station, take a train back to Marseille (20 mins) for your onward travel. If you have more time to explore Provence, why not consider our Classic Provence trip? Just ask your Destination specialist for more information.






Accommodation

You will be staying in comfortable  3* hotels. They all offer a warm welcome to walkers and traditional hospitality. Please see below for an example of the accommodation used on this tour.


Alternate accommodation

During the high season you might be booked into alternative accommodations which are not listed in the main daily description. If those listed here are unavailable the alternative accommodation will be of the same or better standard than those described.


Single Rooms & Solo Walkers

If you require single rooms within your party we would be happy to accommodate you although there is a single room supplement payable. This trip is available to solo walkers but a supplement is payable to cover the extra costs that are not shared.


Meals

Breakfasts are included each day and tend to be a buffet selection with lots of sweet treats like home made jams and pastries. Savoury tastes are also catered for with cheeses, ham, eggs and bread available.


Packed lunch items can be bought locally from supermarkets or the local boulangerie (bakery). In France,  boulangeries are still an important part of everyday life and can be found on most streets.  In Pont d’Etoile and Plan d’Aups, you can also ask your accommodation to prepare a packed lunch for you (payable locally).


2 dinners are included in Plan d’Aups. Other dinners can be purchased in each town, with several options available in Cassis, you will be spoilt for choice! Provençal specialities that shouldn’t be missed include, Bouillabaisse, a rich fish stew made up of a minimum of three different kinds of fish, Soupe au Pistou, a summer vegetable soup, typically served with a dollop of tasty pesto sauce, and Moules Marinière, ’sailor mussels’ served with lots of garlic, onion and herbes de Provence.  Wash it all down with a glass of pastis de Marseille or a glass of refreshing vin blanc de Cassis.


 

 


 

 

 



Le Mas de l'Etoile - Pont d'Etoile

Situated about 2 kms from Aubagne this hotel is set in the countryside and in the heart of the Saint Baume Mountain range. It offers glorious views of the Garlaban Mountains and you can enjoy relaxing on their shaded terrace or by the outdoor pool. Rooms are generously-sized and with a modern décor.



 

 

 



Hotel Lou Pebre d'Ai - Plan d'Aups

Offering just 13 rooms, this hotel has a heated swimming pool, perfect for relaxing those muscles after a day on the trails. Well located in the heart of the village, it also has an excellent restaurant producing typical cuisine in a relaxed environment (dinner included on both nights here)




 

 

 



Hotel Royal Cottage - Cassis

Located away from the hustle and bustle of the harbour area yet only a 5-10 minute walk from it, experience the best of both worlds at this peaceful hotel. A real highlight is the extensive outdoor pool, flanked by palm trees and with a convenient poolside bar. Rooms are clean and comfortable and each come with a private terrace or balcony with views to the garden, village or sea.


 

 

Time of Year

This trip is available to start any day of the week between March to May and between October to November. Any time within these dates are ideal for walking, with March, April & November being the cooler of the available months with average temperatures being around 15 degrees Celsius. May and October are warmer with temperatures between 15- 25 degrees. 


We do not offer this tour in June, July, August or September due to high temperatures and many trails are closed due to a high risk of wild fires. Even outside of these dates there may be closures due to unusually high temperatures. Please take advice of local authorities and do not walk on closed trails, contact us if you are ever in doubt.


Single Rooms & Solo Walkers

If you require single rooms within your party we would be happy to accommodate you although there is a single room supplement payable. This trip is available to solo walkers but a supplement is payable to cover the extra costs that are not shared.


Grade & Terrain

This trip is graded ‘moderate’ with average daily distance being  14km. Ascent and descent can be significant on this trip, so you should have a good level of fitness and be used to walking in hilly terrain to really get the most of this trip. You will be on a mixture of mountain trails and coastal paths. Provence can be rugged underfoot, so you need to be sure footed.


Navigation, Route Notes & Maps

Some trails are waymarked and you will be provided with maps and route notes. You will also have access to the Macs Adventure Smartphone App enabling you to follow the route using your phone's GPS so you will have no problems finding the way


Baggage Transfers

All your belongings will be transferred between accommodations. We do ask you keep your baggage to one bag per person (maximum weight 20kg).


Travel Insurance

It is a requirement of booking this tour with Macs Adventure that you have suitable travel insurance which covers you for the activity and emergency evacuation and hospital care


General Information

The distances and ascents/decents are approximations of the recommended routes.

Please be prepared by packing all nessersary items, for example. proper rain gear, sun hat, sunscreen. Your information pack has detailed advice and a kit list on what to take. This includes good waterproof gear, walking shoes/boots, and lots of other useful bits and bobs.

Getting to Marseille

For general travel planning, we recommend the helpful site www.rome2rio.com




Fly: into Marseille-Provence airport. From here there is a shuttle bus approximately every 20 minutes to the SNCF Marseille Saint-Charles train station which takes about 25 minutes. Details of the shuttle bus can be found here.  A transfer from the train station to your first hotel is included.  You may prefer to fly into one of the Paris airports, from where you can make your way into the city centre (Paris Gare de Lyon) to take a direct TGV to Marseille (3.5 hours). For train details please check www.sncf.com 




Train: Eurostar from London St-Pancras International to Paris (Gard du Nord). Change here and travel to Paris Gare de Lyon, from here take a direct TGV train to Marseille. The whole trip takes about 8 hours and can be booked at www.eurostar.com.


Getting from Cassis

From Cassis train station you can take a train back to Marseille (about 20 mins). Train details can be found at www.sncf.com. From Marseille you can take a TGV train to many locations in France and Europe, or continue home via one of the methods mentioned in the ‘Getting to’ section. 




Included

  • 6 Nights accommodation in 3* hotels
  • 6 Breakfasts
  • 2 Dinners (in Plan d'Aups)
  • Transfer from Marseille Saint Charles train station to first hotel
  • Luggage transfers
  • Maps, route notes, pre-departure information pack
  • GPS tracks and access to the Macs Adventure smartphone navigation app
  • 24 hour emergency telephone support

Excluded

  • Travel to Marseille
  • Travel from Cassis
  • Lunches & 4 Dinners
  • Drinks and snacks
  • Bus transportation on Day 4
  • Taxi transfer to beginning of walk on Day 5
  • Travel insurance
  • Personal expenses or equipment

Extras

  • Single room & solo walkers supplement(s) if applicable
  • Additional nights

How far in advance do I need to book?

We suggest you book as soon as your plans are finalised as Provence is an extremely popular destination.

How fit do I need to be?

This trip is graded ‘moderate’ with average daily distance being  14km. Ascent and descent can be significant on this trip, so you should have a good level of fitness and be used to walking in hilly terrain to really get the most of this trip. You will be on a mixture of mountain trails and coastal paths. Provence can be rugged underfoot, so you need to be sure footed.

How do the baggage transfers work?

All your belongings will be transferred between accommodations. We do ask you keep your baggage to one bag per person (maximum weight 20kg).

What equipment do I need?

Our pre-departure information pack has detailed advice and a kit list on what to take. This includes good waterproof gear, walking shoes/boots, and lots of other useful bits and bobs.

What happens if I can't walk a stage?

You can use public transport or local taxis to continue to your next overnight stop.

 

REVIEW SNAPSHOT®

by PowerReviews
macs adventureProvence: Mountains to the Mediterranean
 
4.8

(based on 5 reviews)

Ratings Distribution

  • 5 Stars

     

    (4)

  • 4 Stars

     

    (1)

  • 3 Stars

     

    (0)

  • 2 Stars

     

    (0)

  • 1 Stars

     

    (0)

100%

of respondents would recommend this to a friend.

Pros

  • Well organised (5)
  • Fun (4)
  • Great accommodations (3)

Cons

No Cons

Best Uses

  • Holiday (5)
  • Relaxation (3)
  • Trying something new (3)
    • Reviewer Profile:
    • World traveller (4)

Reviewed by 5 customers

Displaying reviews 1-5

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5.0

From the Mountains to the Mediterranean

By The gang from Canada

from Canada

About Me World Traveller

Verified Buyer

Pros

  • Fun
  • Great Accommodations
  • Well Organised

Cons

    Best Uses

    • Holiday

    Comments about macs adventure Provence: Mountains to the Mediterranean:

    We loved our experience in the Calanques. It was great . The hikes were great, especially the views . The accommodations were very good with good breakfasts and dinners when available. We had great weather, a bit hotter than expected but it was fine, no rain. The only issue was the map provided was too big and very hard to read . We ended up making our own. The instruction were good except for cistern 59 which was actually cistern 56. The last descent on our last day was a bit of a surprise as it was a bit steeper than expected and so busy as it was a holiday in France that day it was especially crowded and unnerving. Thank you Graig for the alternative accommodation in Cassis. We were grateful we didn't get the original.

     
    5.0

    It was a wonderful experience

    By Cathywalker856

    from Vancouver

    About Me Occasional Traveller, World Traveller

    Verified Buyer

    Pros

    • Fun
    • Great Accommodations
    • Once in a Lifetime Experience
    • Well Organised

    Cons

      Best Uses

      • Holiday
      • Relaxation
      • Trying Something New

      Comments about macs adventure Provence: Mountains to the Mediterranean:

      The hike from the mountains to the sea was very interesting and enjoyable. I would recommend it to anyone who is fit and enjoys walking and hiking as well as gorgeous views in the mountains and along the beautiful coast of the Mediterranean. The meals and accommodations were very good.

      (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

       
      4.0

      Even better than we expected

      By Kimmy23

      from Geelong, Australia

      About Me Family Adventurer, World Traveller

      Verified Reviewer

      Pros

      • Fun
      • Great Family Experience
      • Well Organised

      Cons

      • Map Instructions Imperfec

      Best Uses

      • Diverse Natural Environme
      • Holiday
      • Relaxation
      • Trying Something New

      Comments about macs adventure Provence: Mountains to the Mediterranean:

      This was a great family holiday. We and our adolescent children ( 12 and 15) wanted an outdoors holiday that was not too exhausting and this was perfect. The natural environment through which we walked was very beautiful and very varied, with the added bonus of a little history and cultural education, Coming from Australia and having completed some fantastic multi day walks such as the Great Ocean walk, we were hoping for a similar blend of physical exhiliration and natural beauty and found it in this wonderful experience of the St Baume mountains and glorious cliff top walking on the coast. 15-20km a day with some up and down was easily achievable with a moderate fitness level.Early April was cool but not too cold, and we had some lovely blue sky days and well as wind and mist, but that was all part of the variety that we relished. The accomodation was well chosen and comfortable, the food delicious but it was the walking itself that was the source of our great enjoyment. The holiday was well organised and the 2 prepaid dinners at Plan d'Aup were excellent, we had a varied experience dining at Cassis, both exceptional and woeful , but this only fixed our resolve to check with trip Advisor first in before choosing a restaurant ! It would have been nice to be able to walk continuously from accomodation to accomodation without having to take the bus and taxi between walks, but we were very pleased by the quality of the walking and the places we stayed, so assume that adding in this extra transport probably saved us from some less favourable experiences.The maps and instructions were pretty good, but not having vast experience of the GR system and having gotten lost on a previous walk in the Dordogne, we prepared by plotting out the route using the instructions and our GPS device. There are several errors in the the GPS details given and some slightly misleading instructions, but with preparation using Google Earth and common sense no problems were encountered at all. We loved this holiday and would highly recommend it to others.

      (2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

       
      5.0

      A walk of contrasts

      By The Nuclear Striders

      from Cumbria

      About Me Occasional Traveller

      Pros

      • Fun
      • Well Organised

      Cons

        Best Uses

        • Holiday

        Comments about macs adventure Provence: Mountains to the Mediterranean:

        Our party of four very much enjoyed the contrast of inland mountain walking and the coastal walking round Cassis. We went in early May and temperatures were in the mid 20s. We would not have wanted it to be any hotter than that as there is climbing on four of the five days. The paths are well marked but quite rough at times, so sure footedness and walking poles are needed. We extended the holiday by booking nights at Aix-en-Provence and Avignon either side of the Macs holiday. We traveled to the area from Paris on the TGV.

        (2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

         
        5.0

        Boots and bikinis, great walk!

        By C&J

        from London

        About Me World Traveller

        Verified Reviewer

        Pros

        • Exploration
        • Great Accommodations
        • History
        • Once in a Lifetime Experience
        • Well Organised

        Cons

        • Can Be Very Hot

        Best Uses

        • Great To Share
        • Holiday
        • Relaxation
        • Trying Something New

        Comments about macs adventure Provence: Mountains to the Mediterranean:

        This is a great getaway to something new but just a short hop from London. See, feel and smell parts of Provence that seem like a million miles from home and at the end of each day you have earned the taste of Provence's best from the kitchen.

        Displaying reviews 1-5

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