5 Nature Walks You Shouldn't Miss in St Cyr sur Mer
At Mas des Lecques, nature never ceases to amaze us. We have the privilege of living in one of the most beautiful regions in the world, so we thought it would be a good idea to share our favorite walks in and around les Lecques.
Here is a list of our top 5 rambles in order of difficulty. We have selected beginner level walks so that everybody can enjoy them, including children.
🚨 Before you venture out, please check the weather forecast first. In the summer, the winds are a hazard for forest fires: if you get caught in the forests, you could risk a fine, let alone putting yourself in danger (or the person who is trying to rescue you). Please consult the prefecture’s website to see if you are allowed into the wilderness. Plan a comfortable pair of shoes (sneakers) and a reusable water bottle.
In St Cyr sur Mer, we’re lucky enough to have 2 massive sand dunes. In fact, this is a natural phenomenon caused by the mistral wind pushing the sand from the beach to the hill at La Madrague. The result are 2 lovely sand dunes in the middle of the forest!
We have selected 2 walks you can do : the short but sweet one (going up and down the dune) or the grand tour where you get to see both dunes on a one way circuit.
1/ The big sand dune
Duration : 20-25 minutes
Distance : about 1km
Start : in front of the driveway leading to Institution Don Bosco, 544 route de la Nartette.
Finish : in front of Institution Don Bosco.
This walk is the quickest way to get to the top of the biggest sand dune. It’s pretty hard going up (because it’s steep), but kids love to run down the dune and roll around in the sand on the way back.
You can park for free on the side of the road.
After finding a parking spot, head towards the “Bastide de la Nartette” on your left (when coming from La Madrague). You’ll see some yellow signs.
Walk along the vineyard and straight up to an intersection, keep on going straight uphill. There are yellow sign posts pointing in the right direction. The path zigzags up to the top. Admire the view. Come back the way you came (this is the fun part).
2/ The grand tour, downhill down both sand dunes
This is a tour in the middle of the forest, punctuated by sweeping views of Les Lecques, La Ciotat and beyond. We have designed this tour so as to use the footpaths to go up and to go down in the sand dunes (it’s easier this way round).
Duration : 45min – 1 hour
Distance : 3,6km
Start : Impasse Entournao
Finish : same place
Park your car along the Chemin de la Gâche. There’s a little cul de sac in impasse Entournao, and this is where your walk will end on your way back. Parking is free here.
Walk along the Chemin de la Gâche until Chemin du Quinson (you’ll see some steps on the left that will indicate the spot), turn right up the Chemin du Quinson. Keep going until the road ends (25m) and turn left onto a fire track (there’s a barrier). You’ll see it’s under a couple of big oak trees on your left. The google name of this track is Chemin des Baumelles.
Continue on this path until the hairpin turn : turn upwards on your right
Continue to the next intersection and take a left (still uphill)
You’ll arrive on a first plateau where you can see a small field and a great big green water tank. Follow the path that goes past the water tank and continue uphill.
At the top of the hill, you will be on another plateau with another big water tank and an olive grove, you can see a lovely view of La Ciotat and the “bec de l’Aigle” Continue to go straight onto a footpath bordered with rosemary bushes. At the end of this path, take a right, uphill towards the big sand dune.
Stay left and admire the view at the top, take a left downhill and race down the sand dune.
At the bottom of the sand dune, take a right and continue to walk along the track until the next sand dune: you’ll recognise where it is, it’s the only place you see sand overflowing from a clearing. Turn left there. Admire the view.
Race down the small sand dune until you get to an asphalt road. Turn right. Continue on the asphalt road until you get to a green gate (that isn’t really a gate because you could walk around it): take a right and the footpath that goes along a green fence. Follow the fence and the footpath until you get to a second bit of asphalt : you have arrived back in the cul de sac where your car is parked.
3/ Bandol to le Mas des Lecques along the coastal path
The “sentier du littoral” is spectacular. Plan on taking a picnic some water and a bathing suit if you want to walk the whole 13kms. We’ve split this hike into 2 walks: a first section from Bandol to Port d’Alon and a second section from Port d’Alon to Les Lecques.
We do not recommend doing this walk if the mistral is howling, you won’t find a decent spot to stop for a swim and just before you arrive in La Madrague, at the Plage de la Rainette, it can get pretty slippery.
🚨 Update 2020 : Because of the winter storms, there was a landslide on a small portion of the walk between in the section section (between port d’Alon and Les Lecques. There is a path for you to walk around but we can’t remember it exactly : you’ll have to rely on Google maps for this one…
1st section: about 1 hour
2nd section : 1h30 minutes
1st section : about 5km
2nd section : about 8km
Start : Bandol, Boulevard du Capélan
Finish : Calanque de Port d’Alon
Park (or get dropped off) on the boulevard du Capélan. Head towards the sea and turn right.
Follow the “sentier du littoral” until the Calanque de Port d’Alon.
In the summer, there’s a little restaurant in the Calanque where you can have a bite to eat or something to drink.
You can collect your car (or get picked up) on the car park in Port d’Alon, but the council charges an 11€ fee for parking (it’s a fee per day). If you want to avoid paying, you can always walk to the top of the hill and get picked up there.
From the Calanque de Port d’Alon, follow the sentier du littoral on your right. Stay on the coastal path : the paths going inland do not go anywhere interesting.
You can swim at the calanque de port d’Alon, or the beach opposite. There’s even a “private” beach in the middle of the millionaires’ allotment where the water’s super clear. Alternatively, keep going and swim at the Resquilladou beach.
The walk back to Le Mas des Lecques will take you past the plage de la Rainette and onto the La Madrague port. Kids love to stop and jump off the “pain de sucre” the rock that is shaped like a bird’s beak. You’ll find plenty of cafés in La Madrague and along the beach in Les Lecques if you want to stop for a drink or a swim.
4/ Enchanted swim at the Reinette starting at the sand dune
This is one of our favorites in the summer. You get the refreshment of walking through the woods with a bonus swim at the lovely Plage de la Reinette
Duration : 1h
Start : Drop your car off at Impasse Entournao
Take the forest path behind the red and white barrier
Follow the path along a green fence until you reach the tarmac road.
At the tarmac road, turn left towards the small sand dune and keep going straight past the sand dune until the tarmac stops (it’s not the prettiest walk there – looks a bit like someones dumped a load of building materials – but the views are gorgeous!). Continue straight as the path narrows and go down and then up until you reach a clearing. Take the path on the right that descends in a sort of steep staircase. When you get to the bottom, bear right and pop out on Avenue de l’Abbé Dol. Turn right towards the sea and continue until you get to a Foncia estate agent (which is on your left). Take the road left towards Hapimag on Boulevard Anatole Ducros. Before the road swerves up, stay straight and sneak behind the big green gate (there’s a pedestrian access – you’re not trespassing). Continue on the dirt road to the end where it turns right. Take the stairs that descend on your left. You have arrived at the Plage de la Reinette. You can keep on going along the path to the pointe Grenier where there’s a fort, or jump off the Pain de Sucre or simply chill out and have a swim in the crystal clear waters.
You can come back the way you came or, for a bit of variety, you can go past the Plage de La Madrague (where you’ll find some public showers). To do so, go back up the steps and take a left at the top of the steps. Follow the path down to the port and keep on going straight towards the public beach. There’s a decked footpath that takes you all the way to the next calanque (Crique de Bramaraou). You can climb the steps from this calanque back up to the route de la Madrague. At the top of the steps, take a left and go past the Tauroentum museum. At the roundabout where the campsite Les Baumelles is, turn right on Avenue de Tauroentum. Continue straight until you pass the busstop, turn right onto the Chemin des Baumelles. Stay on this road until the third road on your left. Then turn right back up to where you parked your car on Impasse Entournao.
5/ The millenial Sainte Baume forest
This is one of our favorites in the summer. This is a Provençal version of a tropical rainforest: it faces north and is protected from the heat. As a result, there is a fabulous indigenous ecosystem filled with millenial deciduous trees and water springs (it’s one of its kind in Provence). The walk starts beyond the village of Plan d’Aups la Sainte Baume
Plan a 45 minute drive to get there by car. On your way back, we definitely recommend driving over the top and downwards past Gémenos for a fantastic view.
Duration (of the walk) : 1 to 1h30 there and back
Start : park at the Hostellerie de la Sainte Baume, on the side of the D80 in Plan d’Aups (go through the village and continue another 3-4km), the start is on your right.
Use the track and head towards the cliff and forest. You can climb all the way to the top. On your way, you can even visit the monastery that was built in the cliff. There is even a grotto that is claimed to be where Mary Magdeleine stayed. If you’re not into that kind of thing, keep on climbing to the top and admire the views : you can see all the way to Marseille and Toulon on a clear day. It is truly magnificient.
You can come down following the signposts : it’s a circuit so you can’t really get lost.
In any cast if you love going for walks, you’ll find our IGN maps (equivalent of Ordanence Survey) and Michelin guides in our bookshelves.
Happy hiking !