A calanque is a steep-walled inlet, cove, or bay that is developed in limestone, dolomite, or other carbonate strata and found along the Mediterranean coast. A calanque is a steep-sided valley formed within karstic regions either by fluvial erosion or the collapse of the roof a cave that has been subsequently partially submerged by a rise in sea level.
The best known examples of this formation can be found in the Massif des Calanques in the Bouches-du-Rhône département of France. This range extends for 12.4 mi in length and 2.4 mi in width along the coast between Marseille and Cassis, culminating in Marseilleveyre (1,417 ft) and Mont Puget (1,860 ft). Similar calanques can also be found on the French riviera near Estérel and on the island of Corsica (Calanques of Piana).
The calanques have a particular ecosystem, as soil is almost non-existent there, and the limestone cliffs instead contain numerous cracks into which the roots of plants are anchored. In places where cliffs are less vertical, their vegetation is a classical Mediterranean maquis, typically consisting of densely-growing evergreen shrubs such as sage, juniper and myrtle.
Photo Credit: Mikael