Calanques National Park: between land and sea, history and mystery
With its rock formations plunging into turquoise water and its succession of light-grey gorges and coves, the Calanques National Park is a diamond in the rough created by the encounter between land and sea. But it also harbours mysterious traces of human history. What archaeological fragment will catch your eye round the next bend? Impossible to predict, you have to experience it!
Does the word “calanques” bring to mind images of coves and beaches? At the gates of Marseille, you walk in a rugged land facing the Mediterranean, discover its special biodiversity and go swimming … But not only! The Calanques National Park is also a site of culture and history dating back to ancient times. Look out for the traces of its past, carved here and there in its landscapes, rocks or topography. Waken your imagination to picture the intense activity that reigned in its quarries and grain hoppers barely a century ago. Go and meet its fishers, who reconcile human activities with nature conservation by working in a regulated and responsible way!
Settings that stimulate the imagination
The Calanques National Park should not be reduced to its grandiose coastline and the wealth of its seabeds. A source of fascination not only for explorers but also for artists, it has been the subject or setting of many works of literature, painting and cinema. Walk in the footsteps of Henri Matisse or Paul Cézanne, and in the settings of Army of Shadows, Fantômas or The Transporter!
Near the Ile de Riou, see the Saint-Exupéry plane wreck
The mystery surrounding the disappearance of the aviator and writer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry has contributed to his legend. On 31st July 1944, his Lightning P38 took off from Bastia for a simple reconnaissance mission. But the plane disappeared from the radars shortly after take-off. It was not until 1998 that a Marseille fisherman discovered a chain bracelet in his nets bearing the writer’s name. In 2003, any doubt was finally removed when plane parts with the serial number of Saint-Exupéry’s P38 were found.
Pierce the mystery of Xavier Dechaux’s inscriptions in the Marseilleveyre massif
One of the Calanques’ most emblematic mysteries is that of Xavier Dechaux, whose life was affected by tragedy. In 1865, after the death of his wife and seven children, he started four years of mystical wanderings through the Calanques, where he left innumerable carvings. A love poem for the city of Marseille on the summit of Marseilleveyre, a marble plaque carved with enigmatic initials … Clues that will line your path as you walk in the artist’s footsteps.
Dive into history from the port of Escalette
It requires more than a little imagination to picture the tumult that reigned in the Calanque de l’Escalette in previous centuries! During the development of the Goudes neighbourhood in the 19th century, the construction of factories on the coast at the entrance to the Calanques provided easy access to the sea for the import and export of merchandise at a good distance from the overcrowded city centre. Nowadays, shrewd eyes will perceive the traces of this military and industrial past dotted here and there, lost in the midst of gradually returning nature.