Directions for the Perpetually Lost – Hiking Provence’s Blue Coast
Here are some very thorough directions (with pictures) for those of us with directional disabilities to help you hike Provence’s Blue Coast Provence’s (Côte Bleue) Trail without walking in circles trying to find that elusive trail head. Trail markers are rare here, so keep these directions handy.
If you missed the previous posts, check out “Hiking Provence’s Côte Bleue – Option 1” and “Provence’s Côte Bleue – Nothing less than sublime…” for lots of extra tips. Easily accessible from Marseille!
Option 2 – From La Redonne (2.5 hrs one way – about 3 miles):
Parking: If not taking the train or bus, park at the train station (Ensués/La Redonne) if you are early and it’s off season, or you may be lucky enough to find a spot around the port. Otherwise, use the parking lot above the village and walk down to the port being careful of any traffic. You can also, if you like, shorten the hike by driving along the “Chemin de Méjean” to the Calanque Figuieres (small lot above the port) or to Petit/Grand Méjean (creative street parking and a small lot in Grand Méjean). There’s also a small parking lot along the train tracks above Petit Méjean, try plugging “101 Chemin du Méjean, 13820 Ensuès-la-Redonne” into your GPS (not tested). Just remember, parking regulated and very limited.
- On the left of the port of La Redonne, you will see signposts indicating the path towards Anthénors/Méjean/Niolon. There are also bathrooms should you need before starting the hike.
- Take the paved street Allée de la Falaise up into the neighborhood to what appears to be a house at a dead-end. On closer expection, beyond the parked cars is the beginning of the coastal foot path that hugs the ocean to Niolon.
- Take the path and continue an easy 15 minutes to a staircase that drops you down to the Calanques des Anthénors. No sand but lovely and very little effort required to reach this beach. Stay awhile…
- Once ready, take the cement road to just before a house and dead-end. The path is barely perceptible, just a tiny trail off to your right that climbs up into the rocky red hillside. Look for it after the first curve off the cement road right before the road joins the path above. It becomes more obvious as you actually engage… If you see a tree marked with a big blue X near a home, it indicates that you have gone too far. Do not take the paths to the left of the home with gate at dead-end.
- Continue on the dirt path towards Calanque de Figuières. Once you are near, the path drops you ungracefully off onto a paved road on your left. There is signage “Le Port Sentier Côtier” indicating a footpath down to the port, but ignore the footpath as it’s is not maintained and very steep.
- Instead, take the road going right at the little parking lot onto “Chemin de Méjean”, and right again onto the Allée du Port and through the car gate.
- Explore this quaint little port, and make sure to take the stairway on the rocks to the right of the port. There’s an amazing view there of the ocean waves crashing over boulders.
- Once you are done exploring, take the steps up (hello thighs!) towards Calanque du Petit Méjean. There’s more thigh fun ahead, so just keep in mind how much more fun this is than a StairMaster.
- Once above the port, follow the coast for a pleasant stroll until you reach a small beach on the opposite side of Calanque des Figuières. There you will see steps going down to access another small beach, and scary steep steps going up on your left. There’s even a danger sign! Gather your courage and make your way up, slow but steady, until the steps drop you off on Allée de la Falaise.
- Follow Allée de la Falaise to your right, admiring the Villas with their breathtaking views as you travel up and over the hill.
- At the first intersection, rejoin again on the right the “Chemin de Méjean” that you left in Figuières. Follow along Chemin du Méjean, bearing to the left at the second intersection (Blvd du Fort) until you wind your way to the cute little port of Petit Méjean.
- Continue onto the neighboring Port du Grand Méjean by taking the “Chemin du Tire Cul” (a real derrière workout). If you are hungry or need a break, stop by the excellent and reasonably priced restaurant “Le Mange Tout” (seafood).
- On the left of the port is the Grand Méjean Pétanque court, and the official trail head for the next leg of your journey. Take the trail towards Calanque d’Erevine.
- Soon after leaving the port (400 meters/0.25 mile), after the first point, there is a splendid surprise! The “Grotte de la Marine”, a sea level cave with fluorescent blue waters and access at ground level (unless of course you prefer to swim to the underwater entrance). Perfect for a dip in the cool waters! For Geocachers, there is a cache “Ensues-Mejean La Grotte Marine”. Coordinates for kayakers N43°19’50.8″ E05°13’10.2″. Well worth the short detour if you can find it! Particularly spectacular before noon as the light enters the cave making the water glow from within…magical!
- Continue along the coastal path for another hour and a half. Be careful as the rocks are slippery, and the cliffs steep with sheer drop offs. You will be going up and down, often following the train route and even crossing over on a pedestrian bridge. Trains pass regularly, never venture onto the tracks!
- The last bit to the Calanque d’Erevine is particularly steep and rocky. You will travel down some steep stone steps to a carved out of stone tunnel. On the other end is the trail going under the viaduct, with the last hazardous bit dropping down to the Calanque d’Erevine.
For the return trip, you can either backtrack as you came or continue to Niolon by following itinerary Option 1 and take the train back.
Option 3 – The Cheating Way to the Calanque d’Erevine (45 min one way – about 2 miles):
Drive to “Les Bourgailles”, a commune of Ensués-La Redonne and park at the end of Rue des Roitelets in the cul-de-sac (just after it intersects with Rue des Alouettes). Take the path immediately off the parking lot and make your way to the large water tower. Keep to the path on the left at the sharp turn and pass the water tower. Take path on right (Chemin des Bourgailles), ignoring the path that loops back. Continue straight to a first intersection after about a short mile or so and go right. Continue on to the next intersection, a stretched out X. Take the first path going downwards on your left. After a bit, you will reach one more intersection that you take to your right. Continue your downward descent before reaching the Calanque d’Erevine. Return by same route as you arrived, more strenous than the descent.
Did you go? Did you love it? Did you think it was sublime? Did you find the Grotte Marine near Grand Méjean? Did you get lost???
-Girl Gone Gallic