Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Les Alpilles – along the ridge from Col de Vallongue to Pas de l’Aigle.

This is a great hike in the Alpilles between Saint Remy and Eygaliere. It is also good for winter because most of the walk is well exposed for the sun and the northern Mistral wind is avoided most of the time, especially along the ridge, believe it or not. You will find a large parking where the GR6 trail crosses the D24 road. Simply drive westwards out of Eygaliere on the D24b road a good 2km until you meet the D24 road in a T-junction. Turn left and drive on for another 1km (here the GR6 crosses) and park in the parking on the right.

Col de Vallongue
The walk starts along the GR6 (here a forest road, not well marked with the GR-colours) westwards. After about half an hour you turn left (you are approaching a small airport) and follow the forest road around its first right bend at the end of the field. Very soon, you will see the signpost for the ridge path and follow this into the woods on the left (still marked GR6). It will now take you about half an hour up to Col de Vallongue at 251 meters.

The GR-path continues high up on the southern side of the ridge. Great scenery, warm sunshine and no Mistral winds. After about 45 min., the path turns 90 degrees to the right and is heading up to the top of the ridge. This takes a good 15 minutes, but from here the views is fantastic all around, and still no Mistral wind! This is because the mountain wall on the northern side is so steep that the wind turns right up for quite a while.

Part of the Apilles ridge
The GR path now continues along the main ridge and after about half an hour the path descent fairly sharply for a short while and continues again upwards towards Pas de l’Aigle. At the lowest point on the path here, you see a very small path that takes left down from the ridge. This is the path for the return walk today, but if you have the time, it could be a good idea to continue along the ridge a bit longer (perhaps to Pas de l’Aigle), find a nice place for lunch and return here afterwards.

Down on the southern side of the ridge
The descent down from the ridge takes only about 10 minutes along the small path that was referred to above. It ends up on the forest roads that passes by in the valley just below the ridge. Do not take the first road you meet, but walk southwards for another 50-60 meters and find the sharp bend on the main forest road at the 252-meter point. Here you turn left and just follow this forest road all along its bends and turns. Remember to turn left twice (at the 241 and at the 214 meter points) before finally ending up at the 210 meter point on the D24 road. From here, there is a path next to the road on the left that you could follow all the way back to the car.

Basic information:

Duration:       5,5h (including 1h lunch)
Distance:      14 km.
Ascent:         440 m
Difficulty:       Moderate (but steep and rocky in places)
Start/finish:    (3 km southwest of Eygalieres, where GR6 crosses the D24 road)
Map:               IGN 3042 OT Tarascon (1cm=250 m)

Les Apilles (the ridge) seen from Eygalieres

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