The identity of the Calanques National Park

A natural and cultural jewel in the Mediterranean

The Calanques de Marseille in the foreground and the Falaises Soubeyranes in the background © P. Richaud
View over the Riou archipelago from the Callelongue semaphore station © Parc national des Calanques
Massif de Saint-Cyr © M. Chêne
Belvédère d'En-Vau © M. Berenger - Parc national des Calanques
The tenth national park, in the Calanques, was created on 18 April 2012 by decree of the French Prime Minister. At the heart of the Aix-Marseille-Provence metropolis, it is both terrestrial and marine: it is the only national park in Europe to be periurban and, in the Mediterranean, the only one to be continental, insular and marine.


What is the Calanques National Park?

Identity card

The different areas of the National Park

  • The core of the Park is the most protected part. It benefits from reinforced protection through specific regulations. In addition to the terrestrial core, the Calanques National Park has the particularity of having a marine core covering 90% of the total core area, like the Port-Cros and la Guadeloupe national parks.
  • The partnership zone on land constitutes the territory in ecological solidarity with the core area, in which the communes voluntarily commit themselves to encourage its sustainable development, with the support of the National Park. In the Calanques National Park, the municipalities of Marseille, Cassis and La Penne-sur-Huveaune have chosen to join this area. They thus constitute the perimeter of the National Park's partnership zone, which was ratified by the prefectoral decree of 19 September 2012.
  • At sea, the adjacent maritime zone also specifies sustainable development guidelines, with the difference that the municipalities are not obliged to adhere to them.


Click on the map to enlarge it


Preserving, welcoming and communicating

An exceptional natural monument between Marseille, Cassis and La Ciotat, the Calanques are protected and managed by the Calanques National Park public institution.

In collaboration with local stakeholders, the institution leads and implements the National Park charter, a shared territorial project whose main objectives are to:

Achieving these objectives depends above all on management measures, such as development, maintenance of the environment, special regulations governing use, and raising visitor awareness.


Listing for protection

Faced with the threats to their splendid landscapes, the Calanques have been the subject of spontaneous defence movements by inhabitants and users since the beginning of the 20th century. This struggle led to a decisive advance when the massif between Marseille and Cassis received listed status in 1975, under the 1930 law protecting landscapes.

However, faced with multiple pressures linked to the proximity of France's second largest city (urban pressure, pollution, overtourism, excessive removal of species, forest fires, etc.), local people shared the belief that existing protection tools were insufficient and decided in 1999 to create the "Groupement d'Intérêt public des Calanques" (GIP de Calanques), a consultation, awareness and study structure bringing together representatives of the State and its public establishments, local authorities and civil society (environmental protection organisations, users, owners, inhabitants and professionals).

After more than 12 years of intense and often difficult consultation, the "GIP de Calanques" will have achieved the objective set by its members and awaited by thousands of inhabitants and users: to provide the Calanques with a protection and management tool commensurate with their value and their challenges.



A history of the area

Agricultural and communal areas

Until the late 19th century, the territory of what is now the Calanques National Park was, in its Marseille part, divided into large private agricultural, forestry and pastoral properties organised around bastides (Pastré, Luminy, etc.) and other farms (Logisson, Gardiole, Carpiagne, etc.).  

The phylloxera attacks on the vine in the early 20th century, the industrialisation of Marseille, the two world wars, and the granting of listed status to the site gradually led private owners to sell their land to the French State, either to the Ministry of Agriculture (1897, 1970), the Ministry of Defence (1895) or the Ministry of Culture, to the City of Marseille (1960, 2016), to the Department of Bouches-du-Rhône (1961-1987) as well as to the Conservatoire du Littoral (from 1978 to the present).

In contrast, the natural areas of the communes of Cassis, La Ciotat and La Penne sur Huveaune have remained mainly communal since the Revolution or sometimes since earlier periods.

Owners and managers

This unique land history is reflected today in a mosaic of properties, 90% of which are public. This configuration constitutes an asset for the protection of the heritage. The management of these various public properties is ensured by the following services:

The Office National des Forêts also ensures the application of the legal status of the forestry regime for the land that benefits from it, owned by the municipalities of Marseille, Cassis, La Ciotat and La Penne sur Huveaune, as well as the Department and the Conservatoire du Littoral. This organisation also contributes to the sustainable management of forest areas belonging to the Ministry of Defence (Carpiagne) through a specific agreement.

In addition, the Bouches-du-Rhône Department, the Aix-Marseille-Provence Metropolis and the towns of Marseille, Cassis and La Ciotat manage and police the roads open to public traffic in the core areas of the Park.

The National Park: guaranteeing consistency of actions

The National Park does not own any property in the area. Its action lies in coordinating all the players and their actions, without taking their place.

In order to ensure consistency of actions and to carry out joint discussions on the major management strategies for the area, the National Park Authority regularly leads the Working Group of Public Owners of the Park (GT3P), which works in the general interest of protecting and enhancing the area classified as the "core zones of the National Park".


Did you know?

Before its creation on 18 April 2012, the Calanques National Park already included 6 listed sites:

The National Park is also home to three monuments with historical classification, including the Grottes (caves) Cosquer, Figuier, Renard and La Triperie, a listed historical monument and a remarkable garden: the Park du Mugel.