Sunday, January 7, 2018

Les Alpilles – along the ridge from Col de Vallongue, passed the Pas de l’Aigle and down by the Rocher des Deux Trous. (6 hours including 1 hour for lunch.)

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 to the sun. The ridge is a little difficult at times, but for an experienced walker with a good balance you should be ok.

Drive towards Saint-Remy-de-Provence from Cavaillon on the D99 road, but 2.5km. before the City center of Saint-Remy you turn left off the D99 by the Restaurant (on the right side of the road here). Dive on till you meet the GR-trail (and yellow trail) going eastwards here on the plains (see my markings on the map).

The walk starts off eastwards along the GR-trail, so just follow the red & white markers (and yellows). Nice country side with lots of vines and olive trees, but because of private property, the path takes you left and right in places you don’t expect (follow the path on the map).

Col de Vallongue
After about 50 minutes walking, you come to right turn at “le Mazet” wine domain. You turn right here and walk straight on (I suggest you ignore the non-pedestrian sign on this road because the GR trail is marked here and alternatives are difficult). The non-pedestrian zone lasts only for about 500 meters and is difficult to understand. About 15 minutes after “le Mazet” you come to a signpost where the GR6 trail comes down from the mountain. You want to take right here and follow the GR6 the 25 minutes climb up to Col de Vallongue and further westwards along the ridge of les Alpilles.

If it’s already lunch time when you reach Col de Vallongue, this would be a nice place. Otherwise walk along the ridge for about 30 minutes. Here the path turns right and you need another good 5 minutes to reach the top of the ridge here. This is where I would recommend for lunch, even with cold northern winds (you will find shelter).

After a good 30 minute’s walk you reach “Pas de l’Aigle” where the ridge is narrow and goes up and down a few meters. Take your time and hold on with your hands. (No walking sticks, please. That would be dangerous.) Afterwards you climb up to the Plateau de la Caume where you will walk “around” the first (small) antenna about 15 minutes later. (Make sure you follow the GR markings here to get to the straight road towards the next (big) antenna in another 15 minutes.)

Saint-Remy-de-Provence in the background
Just before you get to the big antenna, the GR turns right along the forest road that winds around and down to the next sign post at the 302 meter point in about 15 minutes. Here you should consider using an extra 20 minutes looking closer at the big rock with 2 large wholes (Rocher des Deux Trous) by taking the trail that starts about here going north east for about 500 meters.

Rocher des Deux Trous
From the 302 meter point you return to the car by taking the GR6 further down along the valley below you here. It will take you about 40 minutes to the next sign post, where you will turn right and right again after only some 5 minute’s walk along the GR653 eastwards. You will find the car in another 15 minutes.

Basic information:

Duration:       6h (including 1h lunch)
Distance:      15 km.
Ascent:         400 m
Difficulty:      Moderate (but steep and rocky in places)
Start/finish:   Saint-Remy (on the GR653, about 3km east of city center)
Map:             IGN 3042 OT Tarascon (1cm=250 m)

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