Les Calanques, Massif des Calanques
Concierge.com's insider take:
The coastal, creek-lined mastiff gorges known as "Les Calanques" dot the 12-mile jagged shore between Marseille and the attractive fishing port of Cassis. Gorse-covered white cliffs lead down to these clear, clean waterways, which are popular with swimmers. The best, at Port-Pin and d'En-Vau, can only be reached on foot or by boat. A popular spot to start trekking over the mastiffs and across the gorges is the fishing area of Callelongue (at the end of Marseille's Corniche) where you will find a simple restaurant, La Grotte, well worth visiting for its end-of-the-world feel (1 rue des Pebrons; 33-4-91-73-17-79). From here, adventurers can embark on ambitious hikes over the calanques to Cassis—the shorter of two routes takes 10 to 11 hours, and the longer path that follows the coast takes a full two days. However, due to risk of forest fires, footpaths through the calanques are restricted during the summer.
Alternatively, you can explore the calanques via sea kayak. Raskas Kayak runs half-day to week-long tours of the calanques out of Marseille, visiting nearby islands and gliding into hard-to-reach coves (33-4-91-73-27-16; www.raskas-kayak.com).