One of the biggest challenges for every intrepid backpacker is the wilderness dilemma. You’re on a tight budget, and hopping from city to city via public transit makes the most sense…but you also want to scramble over rocks like a mountain goat on crack.
If you leap at the opportunity to hike whenever and wherever you can (and the city of Marseille is on your travel agenda), then this post is for you.
Where to Go
The easiest hike to access from the bustling city center of Marseille is Montagne de Marseilleveyre. This is a moderate-level hike with an elevation of 1,417ft / 432m. Come prepared for a steep ascension and bit of real climbing (i.e. hauling yourself up over human-sized vertical rocks). You won’t need any special gear for it, but bring a good-sized water bottle, as the sun really reflects off the white rock.
Note: There’s a spigot in this foothills that is safe to drink from.
*Disclaimer: It’s your own fault if you get sick because you drank water from a random tap in the French mountains on the advice of three whales.
Getting to Montagne de Marseilleveyre is actually ridiculously simple, because Google maps will literally guide you all the way up the mountain. Just ignore the time estimate…either Google doesn’t quite understand the difference between walking over a flat surface and up a hill, or there are some olympic-level speed walkers over at Google HQ who refuse to bring their estimates down to our lowly standards.
Okay, so here’s how you get there. Grab a 24-hour pass from one of the machines at the Metro. This will get you unlimited access to all the rickety public transit you could dream of.
Pull up Google maps on your phone, and enter “Sommet de Marseilleveyre.” Don’t just put “Marseilleveyre.” It won’t take you to the right place, and you’ll end up wandering aimlessly around a little beach town on the outskirts of Marseille.
Marseille’s Public transit is actually incredibly well labeled. If you’re getting on bus 19, the bus will actually say “19.” Weird, right?
When in doubt, ask the bus driver. He probably won’t know any English, and even if you speak French he’ll look at you like you just killed his first-born child. But someone in the back will always pipe up with something along the lines of “Yes, this bus goes to Marseilleveyre!”
In case it’s helpful to you, this is the specific route we took:
What to Bring
Aside from a good-sized water bottle, you won’t need much for this hike. There’s a great pastry shop in the village at the foothills where you can pick up a couple of delicious chocolaty pastries to snack on at the top. Or if you’re more about feeding your body than killing it slowly, there’s also a fruit stand where you can grab a banana. Since you’ll be actively using your GPS for an extended period of time, it’s also a good idea to bring a solar power pack, lest emergency charging become necessary.
It’s gorgeous. Literally breathtaking. And there are tons of other trails that branch off from the main trail and lead to secluded beaches and swimming holes. Alas, we didn’t have time to explore all of those, but we hear great things from fellow travelers.
From the summit, you’ll have a panoramic view of Marseille. Despite taking this hike during the peak of tourist season, we had the summit almost to ourselves—and from what we hear, this is a pretty common eventuality. This hike is more popular with locals than tourists.
Questions? Let us know! We’re your friendly neighborhood travel whales, and we’re here to help. We’ll have more posts coming your way soon on backpacking through the French Riviera and making the most out of 48 hours in Marseille.