The Blue Coast and the Estaque Hills

Coastline, Mountain massif
  • La Côte Bleue - Massif de la Nerthe


The Côte Bleue (Blue Coast) is a jagged limestone coastline that stretches for 30 kilometres between Martigues and Marseille. It is a succession of calanques (coves), little creeks and beaches nestling against the Estaque Hills

One side of this chain encloses the Bay of Marseille on the north-west and, at the same time, its other side protects the basin of Berre Lagoon. It is a limestone arc of wild landscape, cut into by narrow winding vales at medium altitudes (180 - 280 m).
The hills drop sharply into the sea along most of the coast; sometimes fishermen’s hamlets and weekend cabins cling to the steep crags. In the western part, the chain softens into plateaux and there are fine sandy beaches.
A regional marine park was created in 1983 on the initiative of four local councils. It includes a 70 hectares conservation area off the coast from Sausset, and a peripheral area of 3,000 hectares that includes the entire coastline of the Blue Coast.
There are splendid views from the coastal railway, which was built at the start of the century with several viaducts and tunnels.
The best way to explore this coastline by car is to take the roads that go around little pleasure ports, skim the cliffs and wind through the rocky vales and the pinewoods. There are many suitable places for taking casual walks or longer hikes. A footpath called the "Customs officers’ footpath" is being built along the coastline.
There is an abrupt descent into the calanque of La Redonne and then acrobatic paths lead to the calanques of Figuières and Méjean. A little further on are Madrague-de-Gignac and Niolon, a small village hanging on the rocky slopes at the end of the calanque of the same name, flanked by a 19th century fort with its cannons, where there is a very active diving centre.
Bare and windswept Cap Couronne has a magnificent panorama of the coast and the Bay of Marseille.
  • Classified site :
    • YES
  • Protected area :
    • Organic reserve
  • Gestion de l'espace naturel :
    • Conservatory of Coastal Area & Lakeside Shore's Estate
The Blue Coast and the Estaque Hills
La Côte Bleue - Massif de la Nerthe
GPS coordinates
Latitude : 43.328799
Longitude : 5.130787
Condition d'acces : In summer, the countryside is more at risk from fire. So, to protect walkers and beauty spots, access to forested areas is regulated depending on weather conditions from 1st June to 30th September. You may “feel like a walk” but phone 0811 20 13 13 before you set out. Every day, you can fi nd out whether the place in which you want to walk is accessible all day, open in the mor ning only or completely closed. The information on the voice server is available in French and English.
We also suggest...