There are more beaches on the other, northwest side of Marseille, an area hyped as The Blue Coast. These beaches and calanques are neither as dramatic nor as easy to reach as those on the south coast, but travelers in search of a bit of isolation, fine scenery and ready for a walk could do worse than head west.
Getting there is easiest by train on the Blue Coast Line (Côte Bleue) from Marseille Saint Charles station to Port du Bouc (on the Mediterranean) or onto Miramas (up in the hills). L’Estaque station is second on the line outside Marseilles and marks the start of serious panoramic views. For best views sit on the left side of the train on the way from Marseille.
There are a dozen trains a day in either direction with differing deals available such as day passes or pass + calanque boat cruise. Don’t take the train from Marseille to Miramas via Vitrolles as it runs inland and does not offer the same brilliant coastal views.
In mid-summer there can be restrictions on both car use and hiking in some areas as it’s an extremely dry and flammable region, so either check the situation carefully beforehand (en Francais, bien sur) or let the train take the strain.
There are a good number of campsites in fantastic locations along the coast.
Verdon beach, near La Couronne and the most family-friendly stretch of sand on the Blue Coast. Photo by Airair.
The best beaches on the Blue Coast are located between Carry-le-Rouet and Carro. They tend not to have much in the way of facilities and are usually a bit of a walk from the rail station.
One beach with good summer facilities and consequently favoured by families is Plage du Verdon between La Couronne and Carro. Verdon is a sheltered spot with soft sand, lifeguards, toilets, showers, a handful of eating places and good access from a large car park.