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Les Calanques during Jahné's immersion course in Provence

Updated: 7 days ago

Let’s go for a kayaking experience in Provence and discover the crystal clear water of the Calanques with Jahné and Virginie.

Hi, my name is Jhané and at the end of Spring, I went for an immersion homestay at a French teacher’s home and her family, to improve my French. I chose Virginie near Aix-en-Provence. And I had lots of fun!

When I arrive at Virginie’s, she advises me on several excursions – accompanied outings are part of the homestay.

As I want to kayak, she books a trip to the creeks.

What Is A Calanque ?

A calanque is a creek surrounded by rocks.

The creeks extend over more than 20 kilometers (12.4 miles)

They benefit from the protection of the Calanques National Park.

There are more than 20 of them that are located in the town area of Marseille.

It is one of France’s most remarkable natural sites.

How to Visit The Calanques?

There are several ways to discover the Calanques:

  • by boat

  • by kayak

  • by hike

I, personally, chose the kayak. To be honest with you, this is not the least tiring solution! The outing lasts 3 hours.

Kayak French Vocabulary

Faire du kayak – kayaking

Un kayak – kayak

Une pagaie – paddle

Accoster – accost

Un gilet de flotaison – safety flotation vest

la proue – bow

la quille – keel

le sillage – the wake/trail in the water

virer – to turn

côté bâbord – port side (left)

côté tribord – starboard side (right)

calanque kayak french vocabulary

My Experience Kayaking In The Calanques

If you are looking for a nature adventure, kayaking is made for you.

Arriving at the car park, I understand almost immediately that we are really in nature. There are no toilets or chairs to sit on. But it does not matter.

We are seven people including our guide who is a very nice and friendly man.

He makes jokes during the whole outing and puts everyone at ease.

He shows us how to paddle before we leave. It’s a little harder than I imagined. It takes will and stamina to paddle throughout the whole trip.

We leave from the Calanque Port Miou, the only Calanque located in the town of Cassis.

During the trip, we take breaks to listen to the guide. He tells us stories and anecdotes about the Calanques’ history. We take advantage of that [opportunity] to recover.

But do not be afraid if you are a beginner! I was a novice and I survived. And if you have difficulties, the guide will help you.

During the outing, you can see ruins and stones. Our guide tells us that the monuments such as the Gare Saint Charles have been built with these stones.

There are also mountains in the distance. The view is gorgeous!

We arrive at the Calanque de Port-Pin. This beach is beautiful but we get off our kayaks only at the second stop: the beach of En-Vau.

What surprises me is the sand or rather the lack of sand. The beach of En-Vau is a pebble beach. I had never seen a beach without sand.

provence turquoise water learn french

The water is very clear. You can see small fishes and starfishes at the bottom of the sea. But be careful if you want to swim … The water is a little cold. The guide will explain why.

During the return, we see people jumping from rocks. It seems fun and I would like to try one day.

My Tips for Visiting The Calanques

There are lots of people during the high season. So I advise you to do the Les Calanques in spring or in autumn. I came in late June and it was great! We were only 7 people (Virginia and I included).

Here are some other tips:

Do not forget your sunscreen and swimsuit.

Put on a hat and sunglasses.

Bring extra clothes so that you do not wet your car on the way back.

Bring sandwiches or cookies to snack on because paddling requires a lot of energy.

I recommend you to take your flip-flops to protect your feet on the beach.

In summary, it’s a unique experience. I had a lot of fun and I highly recommend this experience.

If I come back to Provence, I will do it again but maybe in a boat that can move without my intervention :-)

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