Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Merindol: Pic de Faiendre – Rochers de la Croix de Fer - Top of Petite Luberon – Going East.

Pic de Faiendre.
This is perhaps one of the wildest areas of the Luberon, at least on the southern side. 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’s 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 minutes’ walk! No wonder it became our favorite Luberon walk from the first time we made it in 1999.

Pic de Faiendre seen from East.
Merindol was also the setting of the most bloody 5 days during April 1545 in the Luberon. Totally 3 thousand people were massacred and 6 hundred sent to the galleys by the French army. Merindol castle was violently dismantled, along with every single house in the village (up on the hill from to-days village). The responsible were the Catholic aristocrats from Aix who saw the increasing number of Vadois people (they had Protestant tendencies) in the Luberon as a potential threat. The first part of the trail described here is in fact an old Vadois trail over the Luberon to Menerbes.

When you approach Merindol from the east on the main road, drive on to the main round about, but don’t turn right into the village of Merindol. Drive on for another 300 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 10-12 minutes. Then you see a medium large cairn on your left and you take the small trail on the left here, but you take almost immediately right again on this tiny trail that winds its way up this side of the valley. 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 Faiendre.

You have now actually 2 options; walk straight north towards the peak as described below or the easier and slightly longer trail that takes off 45 degrees to the left only some 50-100 meters north of the big cairn. This route is well marked with cairns so I highly recommend it and it takes you first over to the opposite side with some fantastic views along the way. Then the trail turns back and joins the route to Pic Faiendre at the T-junction described below.

Now to the direct route: At the big cairn, you see the trail continue along the ridge upwards towards the peak, and try to keep directions for the actual summit. Don’t take too much to the left, but 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.

Now the trail continues north along the ridge, but it’s well worth to take a 15 minutes  break on the actual peak with a fantastic 360 degrees view. You will see Les Appilles, 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.

Effective time walking from the car to the summit is a good hours walk, and you have now another 40 minutes’ 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 10 minutes before the main road and you follow this road in north eastern direction in the beginning and you will meet up with the road that goes all along the ridge of Petit Luberon.

Take right and walk eastwards along this road for about 30 minutes till you have a signpost at La Croix de Fer at 673 meters for Merindol and La Font de l’Orme. If it’s hot or you want good shades for your lunch, picnic under one of the large Cedre trees that you find here. Otherwise take the yellow marked trail to the right for Merindol, and after just 10 minutes you could lunch with a 360 degrees view next to a large cairn.

You continue following the yellow main trail along the ridge, but after another 10 minutes descend, the yellow path takes a quick 90 degrees turn to the right, down into the long valley. I prefer to stay up in the highlands as long as possible, and I therefore continue the path straight ahead. This is an unmarked path that quickly takes you up onto the ridge just ahead (don’t take the left turning that comes almost straight away), and which you follow for about 1 hour until you join the GR6 & 97 at Jas de Bourdillon. This has now become quite a large trail which is easy to follow (stick to the main trail). Great views all the way!

At Jas de Bourdillon, you simply join the GR route and follow the red and white markers back to the car (takes about 45 minutes). There are 2 places, however, you should pay particular attention when the GR-trail leaves a track road. But make sure you follow the red & white markers, and you’ll be ok.

Basic information:

Duration:       6h (Group of 14 and incl. 1h lunch)
Distance:      13 km.
Ascent:         500 m
Difficulty:      Moderate
Start/finish:   Merindol/La Font de l’Orme
Map:             IGN 3142 OT (1cm=250 m)
GPX-file:       Merindol2 (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. It should be added that if you download the GPX-file from VisoRando, you will get the direct route to the top of Pic Faiendre. If you download the GPX-file (Merindol2) from this web-site, however, you will get the easier route to the top.

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

2020 February, Bjorn. Lunch at 12.20 (10 minutes from the Crete road)

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