Saturday, March 22, 2014

Les Calanques: From Col Gardiol to Col du Devenson (6 hours)






Falaises du Devenson
 This is yet another fantastic walk in the Calanques designed for winter time; i.e. no swimming because you don’t easily get down to the sea (unless you count on an extra 3 km. return, going down to Calanques d’en Vau). You start at the big parking at Col de la Gardiole and head straight for the sea at Calanques de l’Oule and Eissadon. You continue along the sea on Falaises du Devenson to Col du Devenson and here you join the GR51 for the route back to the car.

To find Col de la Gardiole from Cassis, you take the main road towards Marseille, and where there is a road sign to the right for “Camp de Carpiagne” at the 234 meter point, you turn left just afterwards at the 235 meter point. Follow the small and sometimes bad road all the way up to Col de la Gardiole (260 meter point), where there is a big parking.

Follow the red 7 trail (also marked green) down to a large intersection just after passing the Maison Forestiere (15 min). Continue the red trail to the right, but after only some 5 minutes (large cairn on your left), I propose you take this unmarked track to the left. (Alternatively, and for those who do not fancy a steep slope with lots of loose stones for 5 minutes, just continue the main red 7 trail down to where it meets up with the GR51 at the 70 meters point.)

The unmarked trail is not really a short cut, just a way of keeping the nice views of the sea longer, and to avoid walking on the hard “road” too long. You need to be a good map-reader, however, so just follow the trail according to the map. The trail will after a while become a path and after 15 minutes you see down to a trail 50 meters or so below you in the valley. Follow the small stony path that circles down to the narrow valley floor (takes 3-6 minutes, depending on skills). At the bottom, just follow the trail here to the right back to the red 7 trail just below the 70 meters point (about 10 minutes).

When you meet up with the red 7 trail again, turn right, but walk only 50 meters because here you want the GR51 (and green) to the left for Col de L’Oule, where you arrive after climbing about 15 minutes, or a good hour from the car.

Calanque de l'Oule
If you are dying for lunch already, I suggest you walk about 10 minutes along the blue 2 trail towards the Belvedere d’en Vau. You will find the best places for lunch to the right along the cliff top, facing west, or all the way out at the Belvedere (15 min), where you have the most spectacular view of the whole of Calanque d’en Vau.

For those who can wait another 35 minutes or so for lunch, you take the GR51 for another 5 minutes down to where the green 8 trail takes off to the left near Puits de l’Oule (a well, easily seen). Now walk along this green path down to Grotto de l’Oule (You see a small cairn on the left about 20 minutes after the well, marking the path to the Grotto.) You get to the lowest point of the path just after having passed the cairn by the Grotto, and now climb up for about 10 minutes to what we can call Col de l’Oule. Here is a few nice places for lunch only a few meters from the sea, but high up. You see straight down into Calanque de l’Eissadon (you could get down to the water here, but it’s tricky), but if you walk up to the left and follow the ridge out, you see down into Calanque de l’Oule on the other side.

Calanque de l'Eissadon
You could lunch here, and it is advisable if it’s a windy day. However, because you have a very steep climb just in front of you, it could be advisable to take this 20 minutes climb before lunch. You are now up on the plateau of Falaises du Stevenson about 2,5 hours after leaving the car.

Walking along the Falaise du Stevenson, you have wonderful views of the sea and the coast in all directions. You walk for about 30 minutes until Col du Stevenson. Here you can see the GR51 coming up from the valley, joining your green 8 path. This is the point to think about returning to the car. Take the GR51 to the right down into the valley and up the next valley etc. back to Col de l’Oule (about 40 minutes). From here, you have another 50 minutes up to the car.   

The quickest way back from Col de l’Oule is following the brown path 5 all the way to Maison Forestiere and then up to the car on the road marked red and green.




Basic information:

Duration:       6h (incl. 1,5 hour for lunch)
Distance:      13 km.
Ascent:          500 m
Difficulty:        Moderate, but demanding in places and not for people suffering vertigo
Start/finish:    Col de la Gardiole (Cassis)
Map:               IGN Les Calanques de Marseille a Cassis (1cm=150 m)

2 comments:

  1. Bjorn....looks like you're getting some good hikes in this spring!

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