Sainte-Victoire! April 04 2017, 0 Comments
Majestic, impressing, the Sainte-Victoire (Saint Victory) mountain seems inaccessible. However, you can easy reach its top if you are not afraid of a few hours of effort.
Magical ways to reach the top of the Sainte-Victoire Mountain
Close to Aix en Provence, the Sainte-Victoire has been the main model of Cézanne paintings. We often pass by, we look at it from far, we imagine its summit, we dream of its view but only a few of us dare to climb.
Today you are invited to cross Sainte-Victoire from East to West. A trip to the many landscapes, numerous scents that will make you feel different after this trip. Let's be honest, to do the six and a half hours of walking, you need to be in good physical shape and a solid snack!
To begin this journey you will drive and park your car in the village of Puyloubier, starting point of the trek. The village of Puyloubier is located at the South East of the Sainte-Victoire mountain.
For almost two hours, the path takes you between pines, rocks and bushes. Two hours of climb, steep at times, but without any technical difficulty. Take your time, pace yourself and above all, discover at every step the beautiful landscape before you.
Between Sainte Baume and Mont Ventoux
As you climb, you will see the valley of the Arc with its vineyards. In the background the mountains that succeed each other: the Sainte Baume in the foreground, then the Auréliens Mountains and the Garlaban which spans the Pilon of the king. This visual getaway will take you gently towards the oratory of Malivert indicating that the path is turning to the left. Here you will leave the mostly wooded part of your journey towards le pic des Mouches (the peak of the Flies), the highest point (1011m).
Our advice: lay your bag, have a rest, look around and admire the magnificence of the landscapes:
To the south: The Garlaban made famous by Marcel Pagnol, with his stories between sea and mountain.
To the north, Jean Giono and his writings set between the Lubéron and Southern Alps.
Thanks to Cezanne, the Sainte Victoire mountain has earned the recognition it deserves.
From this point, your objective is at the far west side, the Grail of your quest: the Cross of Provence.
The sea at the Vauvenargues pass.
This may be the most fascinating moment of your trip as you walk these ridges that may look to be large but are indeed steeps when you prod along. Different universes will follow one another:
The first is a rocky atmosphere with the “Baou de l'Aigle” literally the Eagle’s cliff (“Baou” means cliff in Provençal dialect), a promontory where a Bonelli eagle couple would nest.
The second landscape is more arid. When the col de Vauvenargues is within reach, your eyes will plunge from there all the way to the Mediterranean sea behind Marseille!
Finally the third landscape is practically a lunar one! You won’t walk on the path but jumps from rock to rock, seeking the slightest trace of greenery on a ground covered with burnt grass.
Captivating, enigmatic; Solitary and Romantic are some of the adjectives that come to mind as you try to describe the experience.
Chart of colors
We forget our doubts and fears to reach the immense Croix de Provence (Cross of Provence). A cardinal point of all the roads, built in 1875, the Cross of Provence was lightning stricken twice. Old people say that it was to attract the misfortunes to protect the population around. For more than a century, The Cross of of Provence continues to watch over its Provencal flocks.
A last look to the snowy Alps and you are already to go down to visit the Prieuré, an edifice of the 13th century which is located a short distance under the Cross.
Here you will find a peaceful and quiet place; a natural shelter in a middle of the rock which blocks strong Mistral wind. It is a refuge where trekkers can have a break, spend the night and burn some woods in the fireplace. If you want to experience something special, do an afternoon walk to the Prieuré and spend the night.
Ingredients to get a memorable moment: Woods to put in the fireplace and plenty of food! Stop on the way at the local markets of the numerous villages around Sainte Victoire mountain and pick some specialties that you will taste here. Buy red wines, olives, cheese, fougasse and other specialties. Do not forget to pack some Calissons to conclude this unique experience.
Practical information of the trail:
Average travel time: 6h30
Distance: 17 km
Just before reaching the Croix de Provence is the GaragaÏ: A fairly steep gap, a natural opening between the north and the south of the Sainte Victoire Mountain; the cave of swallows.
The dinosaurs’ eggs reserve:
Pronounce Sainte Victoire in front of any paleontologist and he will answer: Dinosaurs! Indeed, the Sainte Victoire has one of the richest reserves of dinosaur eggs in the world!
More than 70 million years ago, it was here that the great reptilians deposited hundreds of eggs. Excavations are regularly carried out to understand the mysterious disappearances of the dinosaurs.
The road around the villages of Puyloubier, Saint Antonin are famous for bikers who enjoy taking this strip of asphalt which snakes within this beautiful landscapes. Restaurants in this area are very tasty for a meal to relax.
For lovers of extreme sports, the Sainte Victoire is a famous spot for paragliders! Here you will be able to take off in front of the Bimont Lake, take updrafts and fly over the Croix de Provence. Warning, this spot is beautiful but very dangerous because of the strong Mistral wind that can appears suddenly and push you against the sharps cliffs.
Climb spots: Obviously there are numerous spots for experience climbers.
About The Author:
Gilles Cailleaux is the Owner & Master Confectioner at By Gilles, an online French candy store based in Orange County, California. They sell traditional French confections called Calissons from Provence. Gilles is always ready to share his 25 years plus experience of candy making and baking with everyone and want to hear about your experience with his calissons. Gilles and his team are sensitive about taste and harmony. They prepare your packages with special care and attention.