Friday, December 6, 2019

Col de Sormiou: Calanque de Marseilleveyre par le Plateau de l’Homme Mort and Col de la Selle.

This part of the coastline is one of the best for combining hiking and swimming, and don’t be surprise to find the temperature in the Mediterranean still at 18 degrees well into November. Here you will find perhaps the largest and best beach in the Calanques: Calanque de Marseilleveyre. Here you could also have a drink or coffees at the  Bar/Restaurant (no road or electricity out here, so deliveries by small boats).

We often leave Pertuis at 9h30 to avoide traffic, arriving at Marseille Vieux Port tunnel at about 10h15. Follow for Pharo – Les Plages and drive along the Corniche de Marseille for 10-20 minutes (depending on traffic) to the round-about at Plage Bonneveine. Take left here and keep following for Mazargues and Sormiou. You should be at Sormiou in another 5-6 minutes after the round-about.

Calanque de Podestat
You will pass la Crayolle with its large shopping area (incl. Decatlon) and the road may stop at a barrier at the parking marked on the map by the large sewage complex marked “St. epur” on the map. In winter/spring (November to March) the road is open for traffic, so simply drive on to the highest point on the road (Col de Sormiou) and park here. In the summer/autumn you must call the day before (after 18.00) to check if the Calanques are not closed for walking (see Safety and Practicalities under Pages in this Blog) and walk from the parking up to the col (only  about 15 minutes).

From spring 2018, the road up to Col de Sormiou is closed for ordinary traffic from 31 March to 4 November! This means that you park the car below the Col (just before the barrier) and walk the 15 minutes up to the Col. So you need to add 30 minutes to the duration of the walk.

You start walking westwards on joint GR51&98 and Black path. You quickly arrive at  Col de Cortiou (8-10 minutes) and here you take right on the blue path going still further upwards. Fantastic views of the Calanques, the Sea and Marseille. A very steep 15 meters rock wall must be climbed with the help of the hands, but no problem for an experienced mountain walker.

Calanque de Marseilleveyre
After about 50 minutes from the car, a green path crosses your path. You just continue straight on, but this green path to the left could be an interesting short cut over to Grand Malvallon valley and finally down to the sea (see your map). After about 1h from the car, a yellow path will join your blue path and after another 25 minutes you are at Col de la Selle, where you take left on the green path and start the descent into the Grand Malvallon valley. It takes about 45 minutes to reach the beach, so if you can’t wait that long for your lunch, you better take it up here as there isn’t a lot of nice places to lunch before the beach.

Calanque de Podestat
Calanque de Marseilleveyr is probably the biggest and best beach between Callelongue (Marseille) and Cassis and it has an old charming beach restaurant. It used to be open 363 days a year, but now you need to check their Facebook page for opening ours (winter time 12.00 – 14.30), but some days closed.

Follow the sea side back towards Col de Sormiou along the GR51 and GR98 (also marked black). After 25 minutes, take off the GR path and down into the Calanque de Podestat, also a charming place and good for swimming. When you exit this place, make sure you don’t take the first path you see. You should in fact take the last path you see on your right (going inwards in the valley), marked with “Cassis” on a stone. This is a very good path and you will have no problems here.

The GR path will start rising but you go through a fantastic mountainous landscape here along the coast. You shold be back up on Col de Conrtiou in about an hour and back down at the car on Col de Sormiou in 5-10 minutes.

Basic information:

Duration:         5h ( including 1h for lunch)
Distance:        10 km.
Ascent:           550 m (accumulated)
Difficulty:        Medium to Difficult (Climb 15m cliff and steep descents)
Start/finish:     Col de Sormiou (Marseille – Mazargues – la Cayolle)
Map:               IGN Les Calanques de Marseille á Cassis (1cm=150 m)
GPX:              Col_Sormiou1   (Link to free download from list)

VisoRando Lien.
Pour le fichier GPX, vous pouvez télécharger à partir d'ici (voir ci-dessus) ou mettre à jour via ce lien VisoRando où vous pourrez également voir l'itinéraire sur une bonne carte:

For the GPX-file, you could download from here (see just above) or go to this VisoRando link where you also will see the route on a good map.

If you have problems with this VisoRando link, download the GPX-file (Vitrolles1) from above and import it to VisoRando or other application.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Vitrolles-en-Luberon: Le Lac, Luzerne Ruins and the Eastern Luberon Crete.

This is a pleasant and easy walk, ideal for winter time because its well exposed for sun shine. Drive up to Vitrolles and park in the new large car park at the entry to the Village (take left at the first round-about).

Walk back down to the entry of the old town where the GR97 passes by. You see the yellow signpost for walkers and you take the direction for Les Pins. Stay on the GR path for about 750 meters (along the road) till you see a new yellow sighpost. Take left here and walk along this marked path first going east, then turning north till you see another signpost at Garbonnel. Here you turn right along the GR97 going east.

Luzerne Ruins
You follow the GR signs for the rest of the morning. When you have walked about 1 hour  from the car, you have the “famous” Lac de Vitrolles” on your right (200 meters). Take a look, it’s a charming place.

You keep following the GR along the forest road for another 1 hour till you see the yellow signpost in a sharp turn. Here you see the GR takes left off the road and onto a good forest path. It takes about another 30 minutes before you meet the road again and here you take sharp left and then almost immediately left again on an old track road leading to the Luzerne Ruins (see map), where it would be nice to have lunch.

After passing the ruins on the track road, follow it further (parallel to the main Crete road) until it joins the main Crete road. This road is yellow marked (in places) and you should follow the main road for about 1hour 45 minutes till you see the yellow signpost on the 681 meter point. Here you turn left and follow for Vitrolles. There are 2 main short cuts along 1 hour 45 minutes on the Crete (see map and GPX-file) that could save you 15 minutes, but you will miss the views and the sun shine on the main road.

Walking down from the 681 meter point, you will cross the main road after 15 minutes and continue down to the yellow signpost at the 539 meter point. Here you turn left and join the GR trail that will take you back to Vitrolles in another 20 minutes or about 45 minutes from the 681 meter point.

Basic information:

Duration:        6h ( including 1h for lunch)
Distance:        17 km.
Ascent:           330 m (accumulated)
Difficulty:         Easy
Start/finish:     Vitrolles-en-Provence
Maps:             IGN TOP25 No. 3243 OT (Pertuis) and No. 3342 OT (Manosque).
GPX:              Vitrolles1    (Link to free download from list)

VisoRando Lien.
Pour le fichier GPX, vous pouvez télécharger à partir d'ici (voir ci-dessus) ou mettre à jour via ce lien VisoRando où vous pourrez également voir l'itinéraire sur une bonne carte:

For the GPX-file, you could download from here (see just above) or go to this VisoRando link where you also will see the route on a good map:

If you have problems with this VisoRando link, download the GPX-file (Vitrolles1) from above and import it to VisoRando or other application.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Merindol: Les Falaises de Canteduc and Pic de Faiendre.

This is perhaps one of the wildest areas of the Luberon. You start deep into the Luberon and you will cross a biological reserve, which means you should use extreme caution and not walk outside the small trail. It is also perhaps one of the most “montagneuse” areas of the Luberon. You really feel you are in the mountains. The views are just fantastic, already after 15 minute’s walk, with the winter morning sun warming you all the way up. Very good winter route also, but make sure you start early to make sure you have the daylight till the end in case you get lost.

Walking in the morning sun up to Pic Faiendre. 
This particular walk takes you out to the big plateau Canteduc surrounded by big cliffs on 3 sides. To continue the walk downhill on one of its sides takes a very steady foot and you should not have problems with vertigo. So quite a few stop here for lunch and return back the way they came up.  Equally important to mention is the problems of navigation in these parts. You really need to download the GPX-file from this site on your telephone (use free apps like VisoRando or Viewranger) to find your way without too much hassle.

On the top of Pic Faiendre.
When you approach Merindol from the east on the main road, drive all along to the main roundabout, but don’t turn right into the village of Merindol. Drive on for another 250 meters and turn right into a small lane which you follow along. This will in time take you down to the small road that you follow all the way up through the mountain valley to a place called La Font de l’Orme (Maison de Forestiere). Park at the large car park here.

Take the main route straight north, through the picnic area and further into the Combe de l’Euse valley (yellow markers). But you only follow this deep valley for 12-15 minutes. Then you see a medium large cairn on your left and you take the small trail that winds its way up this side of the valley (after a few meters on this trail, turn right). After another 35 minutes, you reach a small plateau and a large cairn.

On the map, the trail simply turns back down the other side, but we want to continue straight north towards Pic de Fayendre. You see the trail continue along the ridge upwards towards the peak, and try to keep directions for the actual summit. Keep on the middle ridge in the beginning, and you will soon see the trail marked with small cairns. About 10 minutes before the summit, you reach a T-junction. Take right here and follow for a while along the eastern side of the peak. Then at a small cairn, take the path that turns sharply left and around the southern side of the peak again. Follow it on to the western side and pass the actual peak. You are now at a small cairn just north of the peak.

Morning fog over the Durance Valley (Mt. Victoire behind)
Now the trail continues north along the ridge, but it’s well worth to take a 15 minutes break for water on the actual peak with a fantastic 360 degrees view. You will see Les Alpilles, Montagne de Victoire and of course the Durance valley. Turn back slightly and take the small trail on the western side of the peak, just above the one you have come on. This takes you around to the southern side, where you simply climb up to the summit quite easily.

First glims of the western cliffs of Canteduc (left).
Effective time walking from the car to the summit is about 1h 10 min, and you have now another 45 minute’s walk to the ridge of Petit Luberon (the old ridge road). You continue the small trail along the ridge and it will finally zigzag its way up to the plateau. Here you follow small cairns till you meet a small track road that you follow in north eastern direction in the beginning. You meet up with the road that goes all along the ridge of Petit Luberon pretty soon.

Southern Cliffs of Canteduc.
Take left and walk westwards along this road, but only walk for about 8 minutes to the 714 meter point (there is a yellow signpost), and take left here. This is where your navigation aid should come into play. The path will be difficult to see in places and there could be far between the cairns marking the way. You should head straight down towards the forest where a tree is marked. Here a small trails take you further. The most practical advice further will be to keep slightly to the right till you get to the cliff edges. It’s easier to walk along the western cliff edges.

Starting down the southern cliffs of Canteduc.
After about 25 minutes walking from the road you end up on a large plateau with fantastic viewpoints all along the cliff edges and from the plateau itself. Continue to the next plateau and this is what’s called Canteduc. (You can see from the GPX-file that we took a 25 minute’s walk around all the cliff edges of this final plateau.)

If you have decided to continue the walk down below the plateau (the alternative will be to return the way you came), the exit path is to the left as you “enter” the second large plateau. You will have a small path with some cairns, and you need to make sure you don’t miss the path. It takes the best part of an hour just to get down and walk “around” the cliffs below till you finally leave the last cliff behind you and continue down on the mountain ridge itself.

Leaving the last cliffs behind.
Only some 150 meters below the 424 meter point the path will join a small forest track road and after another 5-600 meters you will be down at a T-junction on a larger forest road some 45 minutes after you left the last cliff’s edge. Here you could choose either right or left, but we chose walking left and then immediately right in order to have a bit more sun shine on a late November afternoon. After 25 minute’s walk you joint the GR-trail going back to the car park (another 5 minutes).

Basic information:

Duration:       6h (including lunch)
Distance:      11 km.
Ascent:         500 m
Difficulty:      Difficult
Start/finish:   Merindol/La Font de l’Orme
Map:             IGN 3142 OT (1cm=250 m)
GPX-file:       Merindol3 (link to free download)

VisoRando Lien.
Pour le fichier GPX, vous pouvez télécharger à partir d'ici (voir ci-dessus) ou mettre à jour via ce lien VisoRando où vous pourrez également voir l'itinéraire sur une bonne carte:

For the GPX-file, you could download from here (see just above) or go to this VisoRando link where you also will see the route on a good map.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Les Borrys (Merindol) - Rochers des Onze Heures

Rochers des Onze Heures

This a very fine introduction to Petite Luberon. Starting at Les Borrys (Merindol) you follow the long mountain ridge between Vallon des Conches and Vallon du Degoutau all the way up to the top of Rochers des Onze Heures (626m). The return down from the Ceder forest on the top of Petite Luberon also follow a long mountain ridge starting off just south of Rochers de la Croix de Fer. Fantastic views all the way with little shade.

The Ridge going up.
From the parking at the top of the village of Les Borrys (147m) you follow the main route going north. You turn left at the 185m point and follow the GR97 up to the nearest citern (234m), where you turn right. After only about 350m you turn left along a track road leading up the Vallon du Pinson (this is the start of the ridge).

You walk up and down along this ridge heading north (in practice you need to use the GPX-file for passing safely around Rochers des Onzes Heures). After having passed Tete de la Grande Usclade on your left, you turn left and you then walk over till you meet a larger path coming up from below. At this T-junction you turn right and start the steep climb up to the bottom of the cliffs of Rochers des Onzes Heures.

Here you take the path that goes right along the bottom of the cliffs (eastwards), but finally goes up on the ridge at a low point. Now follow the ridge westwards until you see the path is changing directions slightly to the right  and will take you right passed a big cairn on a local peak on your right. You have now walked for about 2.5h and you have some nice places around where you can eat lunch. (You have another 3h walk back down to the car.)

The path will soon reach the main forest road along Petite Luberon, and you follow this for about 500m, where you take left and follow a yellow marked path down to 554m point. Here starts the return along another ridge (but first a short climb up the hill) going south all the way to the farm Jas de Bourdillon.

Down on the 303m point, you meet again the GR97 which you follow eastwards back towards the car. At the 224m point, however, I suggest you walk straight on down the Grande Combe. This track road will eventually end up on the road only about 150m from the car.

Basic information:

Duration:       6,5h (including lunch)
Distance:      15 km.
Ascent:         620 m
Difficulty:      Moderate (some easy climbing)
Start/finish:   Les Borrys (3 km east of Merindol)
Map:             IGN 3142 OT – CAVAILLON (1cm=250 m)
GPX-file:       Les_Borrys1 (link to free download)

For the GPX-file, you could download Les_Borrys1 from here (see just above) or update through this VisoRando link where you also will see the route on a good map:

VisoRando Lien:
Pour le fichier GPX, vous pouvez télécharger à partir d'ici (voir ci-dessus) ou mettre à jour via ce lien VisoRando où vous pourrez également voir l'itinéraire sur une bonne carte.

For the GPX-file, you could download from here (see just above) or update through this VisoRando link where you also will see the route on a good map.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Les Borrys: Vallon du Degoutau – Rochers des Onze Heurs – 6h.

Large deep cave in the Roque des Bancs (a small detour for lunch).

Fantastic walk, recently descoved on VisoRando (tip from a local friend). This ascent to the top of Petite Luberon is the most spectacular I have ever experienced, and the descent was also one of the best. So this makes the walk one of my preferred walks in the whole of Luberon. But it  has its difficulties.

Waiting for the chain going up!

The walk is classified on VisoRando as very difficult, and I must agree in general. The main difficulty is climbing a 6-7 meter almost vertical cliff with the help of a chain that is in place here. You need to be an experienced mountain walker with strong hands to handle the chain. But we are a couple aged 67 and 70 years old and we had no problems getting up on our first attempt at this walk in March 2019.

Last of the 2 chains.
The other main difficulty is simply finding your way. But that is really no problem any longer, as long as you have loaded your portable telephone with IGN-maps and the gpx-file that shows this walk. (I use the VisoRando app.) I can assure you that you will have some difficulties without this! You have the link to map and gpx-file below.

Basic information:

Duration:      6h (including lunch)
Distance:     14 km.
Ascent:        600 m
Difficulty:      Difficult
Start/finish:   Les Borrys (2.5km east of Merindol)
Map:             IGN 3142 OT (1cm=250 m)

Rochers des Onze Heurs

Fantastic views all the way up!

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Winter Walk along the Upper Aiguebrun Valley (3h or 4h)

It’s well worth the 25 minutes drive from Cucuron to the Aiguebrun valley (park at the last car park before the Restaurant/Hotel Seguin) to discover a totally new “face” to the Luberon mountains. You will also find that this area has been inhabited by people from a very long time back. A kind of cultural trek.

When you come to the end of the road to Seguin (just before the private road crosses the river to the Hotel), you start off on the dirt road to the right marked yellow and red, going into the forest right here. After a few minutes, you leave the dirt road (follow yellow and red markings) and you will soon come to a bridge crossing the river Aiguebrun. This is a popular place to take a closer look at the river.

The Aiguebrun valley - you follow high up on the sunny side.
Since it’s winter, we want to have the morning sun, so continue across the bridge and walk over to the yellow signpost (just before the locked iron gates to the Hotel – new in 2018), where you turn right up the hill. Follow this wonderful old carriage road turning and winding up to the top of the hill (still a few yellow & red markers), where you turn right and follow an unmarked path along the top of the mountain side.

About 10 minutes along this ridge, you see a beautiful old Bori structure in stone on the left and walking another 15 minutes look out for the next point of attraction, which is well hidden below. On the map it’s called “la Baume de l’Eau and you see a very small cairn on the main path, which you leave here for a quick look “down under”, where you will find an old large water basin inside the mountain side.

La Baume de l'Eau
Walk back up to the main path and continue another 15 minutes, or till you meet another large old carriage road, coming from Apt going down to the river (again yellow and red markings). You don’t want to cross the river just yet, however, unless you want to cut the walk by about 1 hour. You should now have walked about 1h 20min and cutting down over the river here will only leave you another 1h 40min back to the car.

Waterfall just before you turn around high up in the Aigubrun Valley.
Walking on this old carriage road down towards the river, take the first major path on the left after only a few minutes. You are now entering a wild life protected area and follow the path parallel to the river. Take the second right hand path after about 10 minutes, and you will soon join the path next to the river Aiguebrun. After only about 5 minutes, you will pass a 2 meter water fall and just afterwards, there is a large area of the river where you can pass over (often dry here, but could be lots of water just after rain fall).

Just after the river crossing, you get to a large grass field and you see a sign post. Take the path going up the wooden steps to the right up the hill and start walking back down the river. This is quite a nice old road and after 10 minutes you meet a second sign post. Here you turn right (or rather straight on) and continue further downstream until the main path turns sharp right down to the river. Walk down and cross the river at the bottom (you might want a stick to better balance on the rocks).

Chantebelle between Sivergues and Seguin.
You are now back on the lower path along the river (right side) and you follow this close to the river till you join up with the large old carriage road (yellow and red markers). You will soon come down to a place where it is easy to cross the river for the last time. From here, just follow the red & yellow markers first down the river a short bit, then turning left up to the small village of Sivergues where you will be in less than 30 minutes from the river crossing.

Still inhabited house just after Chantebelle.
Since this is a winter walk, I don’t take any of the paths marked for Seguin from here. They are excelent for summer because they follow closely the river almost all the way back to the car. For more sun shine, however, follow the lowest tarmac road leaving Sivergues going almost south. It will be marked for Chantebelle, perhaps in places. You follow the tarmac road in winding turns, but the tarmac stops after 15 minutes. After about 30 minutes leaving Sivergues, you walk into Chantebelle and you see an old big flat sign telling you to turn right down this track for Seguin. You now starts on perhaps some of the the nicest parts of this road as it is turning and winding its way back to Seguin. After about 25 minutes you meet up with the dirt road that you were on this morning, so just follow this down to the car.

Basic information:

Duration:       4h (without lunch break)
Distance:      12 km.
Ascent:         300 m
Difficulty:      Medium (river crossings, read text)
Start/finish:   Auberge Hotel Restaurant Seguin
Map:             IGN 3243 OT (1cm=250 m)