Monday, November 20, 2017

Pic des Mouches, Montagne Sainte-Victoire (1011 meters) – (5,5 h incl. 1h for lunch)

Pic des Mouches is an easy 1 hours walk from Col des Portes (on the D10 road about 15 minute’s drive east of Vauvenargues), where one park at 630 meters. But for the more experienced walker, the south face of Victoire might be more tempting. From the car park about 2,5 km along the D17 road from Puyloubier (going west), you have 2 almost parallel paths going up to Pic des Mouches. Here the steep mountain side literally meets you face on for a 500 meter steep ascent, which will take you anything from 1,5h to 2h, depending on fitness and balancing techniques.

Here, the 500 meter ascent starts.
The red marked path via the Ermitage de St-Ser is the most difficult with 4 – 5 meter passages with cables or chains to help you. We chose the green marked trail (takes off to the right from the red path after only some 10 minutes from the parking). This has no cables etc., but is still difficult, mainly because much of the path is made up of small stones that can easily roll away. But in general, the green path seems to have been made quite recently and is a very good and fairly safe path for an experienced and fit  walker with a good balance. But make sure you do not lose the green markings!

We prefer to park the car in Puyloubier and walk along the D17 road for the 2,5km (0,5h) to the car park underneath Pic des Mouches. Fantastic views along the way of the mountain side and the nice landscape on both sides of the road (not much traffic in the morning).

At the car park, you could study the information boards for routes, but to-days route described here starts off on the red marked path going north, but you leave this trail after only some 10 minutes, where you have a good sign saying the start of a green trail off to the right. Here you start a long climb that will eventually take you up to the Victoire mountain ridge at 971 meters in 1.5 – 2 h depending mainly on your fitness and techniques.

The green trail must be fairly new, nicely designed to walk the mountain side as gently as possible in these parts. It has its challenges, but they are really not much problem for an experienced walker with a good balance. You might lose sight of the green paint in places, but make sure you do not lose them (go back and find it). There are so many old small trails in this area; easy to get stuck unless you stick to the green markings. In general, the trail is very good marked with green markers!

You arrive up on the Victoire mountain ridge at Garagai de Cagoloup Gouffre (971 meters),where Pic des Mouches (1011 meters) is only a 15 minute’s walk there and back. It’s well worth the fantastic 360 degrees view and you see as far as Montagne Ventoux and the alps.

The return walk to Puylobier is along the GR9 trail going east on the mountain ridge (try to keep out on the actual ridge for as long as possible, rather than taking the Red & White markers) for the nice views. You will pass the large Oratoire at the 776 meter point in about 30-35 minutes and continue the GR9 towards Puyloubier which will take another 1h. However, after having been walking only some 5 minutes from the Oratoire, make sure you take the left turn on the GR9 (easy to miss).

Basic information:

Duration:      5,5h (incl. 1hour for lunch)
Distance:      8 km.
Ascent:         750 m
Difficulty:      Difficult
Start/finish:   Puyloubier village (near D17 exit)
Map:             IGN 3244 ET Montagne Ste-Victoire (1cm=150 m)

View north from ridge:  Luberon and Mont Ventoux

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