Route des Cretes, Provence
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The Route des Cretes is a very scenic coast road between Cassis and La Ciotat in Provence to the south-east of Marseille.
Note: there are several other routes called 'route des cretes' in France, including one on the northern rim of the Gorges du Verdon, also in Provence, and another in the Vosges region of north-east France. This article is referring to the cliiftop route on the coast in the Bouches-du-Rhone department.
Follow the Route des Cretes in Provence
France This Way comment: the Route des Cretes is one of the most scenic coast roads in France - it often features on lists of the best coastal drives in the Mediterranean - and although it is not very long a visit is highly recommended when you are in this region
The Route des Cretes follows along the cliffs in the region known as the Falaises Soubeyranes. The D141 road along the cliffs is about 15 kilometres long and at its highest point allows you to reach an altitude of 394 metres. The cliffs here are the highest sea cliffs in France and among the highest in Europe. The main part of the cliffs is between Cap Canaille (the highest point) and the Bec de l'Aigle.
There are various places along the route where you can stop the car to better appreciate the views or walk along the footpath that follows the cliffs to have more views. From the Route des Cretes you have remarkable view across the bay of La Ciotat, towards Marseille and its islands to the west and towards Bandol to the east.
Completing the route des cretes takes about one hour if you drive and stop for photos. Of course, if you plan to also walk along the path or stop for a picnic you might need to allow rather longer!
We usually find that the road is not too crowded but we have always visited slightly outside high season. The road is not too challenging but does have quite a lot of sharp bends and places where you are driving quite close to cliffs and I am aware that some drivers find it a bit scary!
It is possible to follow the entire route on foot. Cycling along the road is also of course possible if you are able to tackle the hills at either end of the route but the number of cars on the road would probably make it a bit less than enjoyable in the busier seasons.
The scenery along the Route des Cretes is best around sunset, but worth seeing at any time of day. I have been told that the road is sometimes closed if the weather is very windy, although we have driven it several times with no problems so hopefully this is quite unusual.
I should also mention that there are not many barriers along the cliffs except in the main parking areas, so when you stop to get out of the car don't let the children get out first and rush towards the edge! Caution will be needed if the rocks along the clifftop are wet and slippery.
The principal attractions are the towns at either end of the Route des Cretes: La Ciotat to the east and Cassis to the west. Both merit a visit, especially Cassis which is one of our favourite small resorts in France.
If you follow the coast to the west of Cassis towards Marseille you can discover the Calanques de Marseille. Now protected as part of a natural park, the calanques are perhaps the most beautiful coast in France and can be visited on foot or by boat trip from the harbour in Cassis.
Map of Route des Cretes and places to visit
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Address: Cassis, Ciotat, Marseille, Bouches-du-Rhone, Provence, 13260, France || GPS: latitude 43.1827111, longitude 5.56483
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Sightseeing & tourist attractions to visit nearby
- Cap Canaille (Cassis): site of natural beauty
- Calanque de Figuerolles: site of natural beauty (3km)
- Parc du Mugel: site of natural beauty (4km)
- Parc municipal du Mugel: remarkable garden (4km)
- Cap Canaille: site of natural beauty (4km)
- Saint Cyr sur Mer: recommended detour (12km)
- Calanque: site of natural beauty (12km)
- OK Corral: theme park (15km)
- Parc Borély: remarkable garden (17km)
- Parc Longchamp: remarkable garden (17km)