The Treacherous Walk To One Of Europe's Best Tucked-Away Beach Coves Is Beyond Worth It

Some say the Calanque de l'Érevine is the most beautiful calanque (cove) in France's Côte Bleue along the southern coast of Provence. But reaching the exquisite cove is tricky, as it's nestled deep within the Côte Bleue, in an area of limestone cliffs that drop precipitously into the Mediterranean. Some choose to access the inlet by boat, but nimble travelers with a sense of adventure can get there on foot, too, one way being the Sentier du Douanier.

The 2.6-mile out-and-back hike along the Sentier de Duoanier begins in the village of Niolon, about 20 miles from Marseilles. From Niolon, the narrow trail follows the rugged coastline, often precariously near the edge of the cliffs, and passes the Calanque du Riflard before arriving at the Calanque de l'Érevine. If you suffer from a fear of heights, this trail is definitely not for you. But if you're vertigo-free, reasonably fit, and willing to brave the rocky and slippery terrain, the otherworldly beach and sparkling clear waters of this calanque await you. 

Hiking to the Calanque de l'Érevine

The hike along the Sentier de Duoanier to the Calanque de l'Érevine is not recommended for young children or anyone with mobility or balance issues. To do this hike safely and comfortably, wear sturdy footwear with good traction (but tuck some flip flops or water shoes for the rocky beach into your backpack) and hydrate before and during the hike. During the warmer months, start the hike as early as you can to avoid heat exhaustion, as you'll find very little shade along this trail. Another reason to get an early start is to secure a prime spot on the beach, which can get very crowded during the summer season. 

Use common sense on this trail: apply and reapply sunscreen, use caution in the exposed areas, and take breaks when needed. Also remember to stop to take giant gulps of sea-fresh air and enjoy the incredible scenery! When you arrive at the calanque, you'll be rewarded by more glorious scenery — a lovely pebbled beach in view of a small island — and the opportunity to jump in the crystal-clear water. Enjoy some time splashing around at this sublime beach before heading back the way you came. You earned it!

Exploring more of the coast

If you're still feeling chipper after your adventurous trek and beach time, consider continuing along the Sentier de Duoanier toward Méjean, a peaceful village set amongst rocks and pine trees with an enchanting little harbor. The jaunt from the Calanque de l'Érevine to Méjean will add about another 1.5 hours (one way)to your trip, so double that if you're going and returning. There are also other trails near the Calanque de l'Érevine that you can travelerblog, such as the hike along the Chemin du Jonquier from the calanque to the Plateau du Médecin between Le Rove and Ensuès-la-Redonne.  

Otherwise, return to Niolon by following the Sentier de Duoanier back the way you came. Before leaving the village, take some time to relax and refuel at Auberge du Mérou, which boasts fresh, local dishes and panoramic views. Then from Niolon, it's about a 25-minute train ride to Marseille, a vibrant city that makes a perfect home base for exploring the rest of the French Riviera. This entire area is a dream for nature lovers, with many more spectacular hikes, beaches, and quaint villages to discover, such as the colorful beach town of Villefranche-sur-Mer.