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.


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


Saturday, February 1, 2020

Cucuron: Autour de Cucuron et Vaugines

Cucuron Etang

This is an easy walk for almost all year. Fantastic views most of the way, first along the vineyards towards Vaugines, later along the “balcony routes” back from Vaugines towards Cucuron and last down past the old Cucuron Chapel “Hermitage”.


Start off from the end of the Etang in central Cucuron along the GR-markings for Vaugines. You take off from the GR, however, fairy rapidly, following the signposted vineyard route (wrought iron signs) for the first leg of this walk. You will be entering Vaugines at the Church end of the village in about an hour.


Approaching Vaugines
From Vaugines Church, walk through the village lengthwise and at the other end of the village, start by following GR-signs for the Luberon ridge (Vallon de Vauniere). But not for long. About 1 km after having left the village, you take off from the GR (here a forest track) and take off to the left on a mounting footpath. Here you will have the first little climb of the day before it soon flattens out. Walk on to the right for another 4-5 minutes.






Vaugines Church
As you join another forest track (about 45 minutes from the Church), take sharp right and follow the track a bit upwards, then back down to Vallon de Vauniere. Back in Vauniere, take right and descent the valley for about 200 meters, till you see a small path taking off to the left (not marked on maps). Here you will have the second little climb of the day, but at the top you are rewarded by a fantastic view and a wider forest track to follow over to the next valley with magnificent views all along because of recent logging.



Grotte
When the forest track meets up with the next forest track in a T-junction (another 30 minutes), take left and start a small climb up this valley. Keep right at the first cross-road and you will soon be on another small path opening up as the “balcony route” between Vaugines and Cucuron. It will take you about 30 minutes before the path ends up on the Cucuron side on a forest track going up to “la Citerne. Take right here and you see a small Cave on your left. A bit further along, you have a nice place for lunch at the 582 meter point.


To get the last bit of this “balcony route”, you need to climb up along the forest track a bit to the 360 degrees turning of the big forest road just north-east of the where you had lunch. Follow the big road down towards Cucuron, but at the 530 meter point, you take off to the right on a smaller forest track out to the Chapel Hermitage, where you will be in slightly less than one hour from lunch.



Chapel "Hermitage"
You continue the path south of the Chapel (signposted 2.2 km to Cucuron) and follow the yellow markings back to the village.








Basic information:

Duration:       5,5h (group of 20)
Distance:      14 km.
Ascent:         400 m
Difficulty:      Easy
Start/finish:   Cucuron
Map:             IGN 3243 OT (1cm=250 m)

GPX-file:       Cucuron1   (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.


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


TET:
31.01.2020: Anne, with lunch after 3 hours at 12.40. 


Friday, December 6, 2019

Col de Sormiou: Calanque de Marseilleveyre par le Plateau de l’Homme Mort and Col de la Selle.



This part of the coastline is one of the best for combining hiking and swimming, and don’t be surprise to find the temperature in the Mediterranean still at 18 degrees well into November. Here you will find perhaps the largest and best beach in the Calanques: Calanque de Marseilleveyre. Here you could also have a drink or coffees at the  Bar/Restaurant (no road or electricity out here, so deliveries by small boats).


We often leave Pertuis at 9h30 to avoide traffic, arriving at Marseille Vieux Port tunnel at about 10h15. Follow for Pharo – Les Plages and drive along the Corniche de Marseille for 10-20 minutes (depending on traffic) to the round-about at Plage Bonneveine. Take left here and keep following for Mazargues and Sormiou. You should be at Sormiou in another 5-6 minutes after the round-about.





Calanque de Podestat
You will pass la Crayolle with its large shopping area (incl. Decatlon) and the road may stop at a barrier at the parking marked on the map by the large sewage complex marked “St. epur” on the map. In winter/spring (November to March) the road is open for traffic, so simply drive on to the highest point on the road (Col de Sormiou) and park here. In the summer/autumn you must call the day before (after 18.00) to check if the Calanques are not closed for walking (see Safety and Practicalities under Pages in this Blog) and walk from the parking up to the col (only  about 15 minutes).


From spring 2018, the road up to Col de Sormiou is closed for ordinary traffic from 31 March to 4 November! This means that you park the car below the Col (just before the barrier) and walk the 15 minutes up to the Col. So you need to add 30 minutes to the duration of the walk.


You start walking westwards on joint GR51&98 and Black path. You quickly arrive at  Col de Cortiou (8-10 minutes) and here you take right on the blue path going still further upwards. Fantastic views of the Calanques, the Sea and Marseille. A very steep 15 meters rock wall must be climbed with the help of the hands, but no problem for an experienced mountain walker.


Calanque de Marseilleveyre
After about 50 minutes from the car, a green path crosses your path. You just continue straight on, but this green path to the left could be an interesting short cut over to Grand Malvallon valley and finally down to the sea (see your map). After about 1h from the car, a yellow path will join your blue path and after another 25 minutes you are at Col de la Selle, where you take left on the green path and start the descent into the Grand Malvallon valley. It takes about 45 minutes to reach the beach, so if you can’t wait that long for your lunch, you better take it up here as there isn’t a lot of nice places to lunch before the beach.


Calanque de Podestat
Calanque de Marseilleveyr is probably the biggest and best beach between Callelongue (Marseille) and Cassis and it has an old charming beach restaurant. It used to be open 363 days a year, but now you need to check their Facebook page for opening ours (winter time 12.00 – 14.30), but some days closed.


Follow the sea side back towards Col de Sormiou along the GR51 and GR98 (also marked black). After 25 minutes, take off the GR path and down into the Calanque de Podestat, also a charming place and good for swimming. When you exit this place, make sure you don’t take the first path you see. You should in fact take the last path you see on your right (going inwards in the valley), marked with “Cassis” on a stone. This is a very good path and you will have no problems here.

The GR path will start rising but you go through a fantastic mountainous landscape here along the coast. You shold be back up on Col de Conrtiou in about an hour and back down at the car on Col de Sormiou in 5-10 minutes.








Basic information:

Duration:         5h ( including 1h for lunch)
Distance:        10 km.
Ascent:           550 m (accumulated)
Difficulty:        Medium to Difficult (Climb 15m cliff and steep descents)
Start/finish:     Col de Sormiou (Marseille – Mazargues – la Cayolle)
Map:               IGN Les Calanques de Marseille á Cassis (1cm=150 m)
GPX:              Col_Sormiou1   (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.

If you have problems with this VisoRando link, download the GPX-file (Vitrolles1) from above and import it to VisoRando or other application.







Thursday, December 5, 2019

Vitrolles-en-Luberon: Le Lac, Luzerne Ruins and the Eastern Luberon Crete.


This is a pleasant and easy walk, ideal for winter time because its well exposed for sun shine. Drive up to Vitrolles and park in the new large car park at the entry to the Village (take left at the first round-about).


Vitrolles
Walk back down to the entry of the old town where the GR97 passes by. You see the yellow signpost for walkers and you take the direction for Les Pins. Stay on the GR path for about 750 meters (along the road) till you see a new yellow sighpost. Take left here and walk along this marked path first going east, then turning north till you see another signpost at Garbonnel. Here you turn right along the GR97 going east.




Luzerne Ruins
You follow the GR signs for the rest of the morning. When you have walked about 1 hour  from the car, you have the “famous” Lac de Vitrolles” on your right (200 meters). Take a look, it’s a charming place.


You keep following the GR along the forest road for another 1 hour till you see the yellow signpost in a sharp turn. Here you see the GR takes left off the road and onto a good forest path. It takes about another 30 minutes before you meet the road again and here you take sharp left and then almost immediately left again on an old track road leading to the Luzerne Ruins (see map), where it would be nice to have lunch.


After passing the ruins on the track road, follow it further (parallel to the main Crete road) until it joins the main Crete road. This road is yellow marked (in places) and you should follow the main road for about 1hour 45 minutes till you see the yellow signpost on the 681 meter point. Here you turn left and follow for Vitrolles. There are 2 main short cuts along 1 hour 45 minutes on the Crete (see map and GPX-file) that could save you 15 minutes, but you will miss the views and the sun shine on the main road.



Walking down from the 681 meter point, you will cross the main road after 15 minutes and continue down to the yellow signpost at the 539 meter point. Here you turn left and join the GR trail that will take you back to Vitrolles in another 20 minutes or about 45 minutes from the 681 meter point.







Basic information:

Duration:        6h ( including 1h for lunch)
Distance:        17 km.
Ascent:           330 m (accumulated)
Difficulty:         Easy
Start/finish:     Vitrolles-en-Provence
Maps:             IGN TOP25 No. 3243 OT (Pertuis) and No. 3342 OT (Manosque).
GPX:              Vitrolles1    (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:




If you have problems with this VisoRando link, download the GPX-file (Vitrolles1) from above and import it to VisoRando or other application.



Thursday, November 28, 2019

Merindol: Les Falaises de Canteduc and Pic de Faiendre.



This is perhaps one of the wildest areas of the Luberon. 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 is 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 minute’s walk, with the winter morning sun warming you all the way up. Very good winter route also, but make sure you start early to make sure you have the daylight till the end in case you get lost.

Walking in the morning sun up to Pic Faiendre. 
This particular walk takes you out to the big plateau Canteduc surrounded by big cliffs on 3 sides. To continue the walk downhill on one of its sides takes a very steady foot and you should not have problems with vertigo. So quite a few stop here for lunch and return back the way they came up.  Equally important to mention is the problems of navigation in these parts. You really need to download the GPX-file from this site on your telephone (use free apps like VisoRando or Viewranger) to find your way without too much hassle.

On the top of Pic Faiendre.
When you approach Merindol from the east on the main road, drive all along to the main roundabout, but don’t turn right into the village of Merindol. Drive on for another 250 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 12-15 minutes. Then you see a medium large cairn on your left and you take the small trail that winds its way up this side of the valley (after a few meters on this trail, turn right). 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 Fayendre. You see the trail continue along the ridge upwards towards the peak, and try to keep directions for the actual summit. 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.

Morning fog over the Durance Valley (Mt. Victoire behind)
Now the trail continues north along the ridge, but it’s well worth to take a 15 minutes break for water on the actual peak with a fantastic 360 degrees view. You will see Les Alpilles, 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 quite easily.

First glims of the western cliffs of Canteduc (left).
Effective time walking from the car to the summit is about 1h 10 min, and you have now another 45 minute’s 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 that you follow in north eastern direction in the beginning. You meet up with the road that goes all along the ridge of Petit Luberon pretty soon.





Southern Cliffs of Canteduc.
Take left and walk westwards along this road, but only walk for about 8 minutes to the 714 meter point (there is a yellow signpost), and take left here. This is where your navigation aid should come into play. The path will be difficult to see in places and there could be far between the cairns marking the way. You should head straight down towards the forest where a tree is marked. Here a small trails take you further. The most practical advice further will be to keep slightly to the right till you get to the cliff edges. It’s easier to walk along the western cliff edges.


Starting down the southern cliffs of Canteduc.
After about 25 minutes walking from the road you end up on a large plateau with fantastic viewpoints all along the cliff edges and from the plateau itself. Continue to the next plateau and this is what’s called Canteduc. (You can see from the GPX-file that we took a 25 minute’s walk around all the cliff edges of this final plateau.)

If you have decided to continue the walk down below the plateau (the alternative will be to return the way you came), the exit path is to the left as you “enter” the second large plateau. You will have a small path with some cairns, and you need to make sure you don’t miss the path. It takes the best part of an hour just to get down and walk “around” the cliffs below till you finally leave the last cliff behind you and continue down on the mountain ridge itself.







Leaving the last cliffs behind.
Only some 150 meters below the 424 meter point the path will join a small forest track road and after another 5-600 meters you will be down at a T-junction on a larger forest road some 45 minutes after you left the last cliff’s edge. Here you could choose either right or left, but we chose walking left and then immediately right in order to have a bit more sun shine on a late November afternoon. After 25 minute’s walk you joint the GR-trail going back to the car park (another 5 minutes).



Basic information:

Duration:       6h (including lunch)
Distance:      11 km.
Ascent:         500 m
Difficulty:      Difficult
Start/finish:   Merindol/La Font de l’Orme
Map:             IGN 3142 OT (1cm=250 m)
GPX-file:       Merindol3 (link to free download)


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.



Monday, June 10, 2019

Les Borrys (Merindol) - Rochers des Onze Heures

Rochers des Onze Heures

This a very fine introduction to Petite Luberon. Starting at Les Borrys (Merindol) you follow the long mountain ridge between Vallon des Conches and Vallon du Degoutau all the way up to the top of Rochers des Onze Heures (626m). The return down from the Ceder forest on the top of Petite Luberon also follow a long mountain ridge starting off just south of Rochers de la Croix de Fer. Fantastic views all the way with little shade.





The Ridge going up.
From the parking at the top of the village of Les Borrys (147m) you follow the main route going north. You turn left at the 185m point and follow the GR97 up to the nearest citern (234m), where you turn right. After only about 350m you turn left along a track road leading up the Vallon du Pinson (this is the start of the ridge).

You walk up and down along this ridge heading north (in practice you need to use the GPX-file for passing safely around Rochers des Onzes Heures). After having passed Tete de la Grande Usclade on your left, you turn left and you then walk over till you meet a larger path coming up from below. At this T-junction you turn right and start the steep climb up to the bottom of the cliffs of Rochers des Onzes Heures.

Here you take the path that goes right along the bottom of the cliffs (eastwards), but finally goes up on the ridge at a low point. Now follow the ridge westwards until you see the path is changing directions slightly to the right  and will take you right passed a big cairn on a local peak on your right. You have now walked for about 2.5h and you have some nice places around where you can eat lunch. (You have another 3h walk back down to the car.)

The path will soon reach the main forest road along Petite Luberon, and you follow this for about 500m, where you take left and follow a yellow marked path down to 554m point. Here starts the return along another ridge (but first a short climb up the hill) going south all the way to the farm Jas de Bourdillon.

Down on the 303m point, you meet again the GR97 which you follow eastwards back towards the car. At the 224m point, however, I suggest you walk straight on down the Grande Combe. This track road will eventually end up on the road only about 150m from the car.















Basic information:

Duration:       6,5h (including lunch)
Distance:      15 km.
Ascent:         620 m
Difficulty:      Moderate (some easy climbing)
Start/finish:   Les Borrys (3 km east of Merindol)
Map:             IGN 3142 OT – CAVAILLON (1cm=250 m)
GPX-file:       Les_Borrys1 (link to free download)

For the GPX-file, you could download Les_Borrys1 from here (see just above) or update through this VisoRando link where you also will see the route on a good map:

https://www.visorando.com/randonnee-/2167684-carte-diagramme.html



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 update through this VisoRando link where you also will see the route on a good map.