En route to Les Baux de Provence
Starting from the small pass on the road that crosses the Alpilles range, you keep all along the ridge during most of the walk, enjoying vistas in all directions. Suddenly, on the horizon, as you emerge from a thicket of pines, appears before you, among the jagged peaks, the rock of Les Baux de Provence : a ruined medieval castle and the numerous small roof tiles of the village’s stone houses. Perched on a bluff facing the Alpilles crest, the citadel has been abandoned since the 17th century. The entry is worthwile. An additional visit to Les Carrières de Lumières, a son et lumière projected onto the walls of a former quarry at the foot of the village, might be of interest for you.
Walking time : 2.5 hours
Rating : easy (stony ground)
Walking from one lake to the other
in Cézanne’s footsteps
Located halfway between the city of Aix-en-Provence and Mont Sainte Victoire, this 3 hour walk allows you to enjoy beautiful views of the lakes Zola and Bimont. From the last one, the hiking route follows the bottom of the beautiful gorges downstream through a mixed vegetation of pinegrove and “garrigue”, this low scrubland so typical of Provence. On your way back, you will be walking with the imposing mountain located about 2 miles east. The lack of shade along the trails makes the hike a perfect one on cool, sunny days of spring, autumn and even winter.
Walking time : 3 hours
Rating : moderate (stony ground / steep slopes)
Calanque de Sormiou, one of the
most spectacular day trips from Marseille
This easy trail will allow you to get some beautiful views over one of the largest steep-walled inlets that are called calanques along the Provence coastline : Sormiou, an amphitheater, with white limestone cliffs as terrace seats, the sea as stage and the little port and its cottages as orchestra. Starting from a southern district of Marseille, you find yourself after 45 minutes walking, in the heart of Calanques National Park, staring down to Calanque de Sormiou‘s turquoise blue waters, 250 meters below, and gazing at the red roofs of its ‘cabanons’, these little fishermen’s cottages clustered at the back of both coves and towered over by rocky promontories.
Walking time : 2 hours
Rating : leisurely (stony ground)
A day trip from St-Remy de Provence to Les Baux
Leaving the medieval streets in St-Remy, you head to an even older quarter : Les Antiques. These are two Roman monuments among the best preserved : the Mausoleum and the Triumphal Arch that used to mark the entrance to the city of Glanum. Walking through pines, on back roads and forest tracks, you gently climb to the Alpilles ridge’s path. Up there, you enjoy a great scenery all around. Following the main ridge, you gradually approach Les Baux de Provence. Built on a rocky spur, the ruined medieval castle suddenly appear. Once the fief of very powerful Lords, among the strongest in the south of France, this site is something unique. Castle entry is worthwile. An additional visit to Les Carrieres de Lumieres, a son et lumière projected onto the walls of a former quarry, at the foot of the village, might be of interest for you.
Walking time : 4 hours
Rating : moderate (rocky sections)
Hiking to the Croix de Provence
Symbolic peak of Mont Sainte-Victoire, even if not the highest point, the Croix de Provence, a giant metal and stone cross, dominates Aix-en-Provence and its surroundings, at an altitude of 946 meters. Though it is not long, this hike is a challenging one because of the elevation gain and some rocky and steep sections on the way. But it is pure delight especially when you take time, a Provence walking dream. And, in early spring or in automn, as you reach the crest around sunrise, the emotion is at its peak, and the breakfast snacks you eat up there will surely remain engraved in your memory for a long time.
One of the most breathtaking and energetic day trips from Aix-en-Provence !
Walking time : 4.5 hours
Rating : challenging
En-Vau : the pearl of
Calanques National Park
Calanque d’En-Vau, with its brilliant-turquoise waters surrounded by sheer white cliffs, is a paradise for hikers and rock climbers. On this walking day, you will have the opportunity to admire this Provence natural wonder from three different viewpoints : two from the top, the first one being located directly in line with En-Vau, as shown on the picture, allowing a view of the whole ; the second, right above, offers a view from the side, quite different but very scenic as well ; the third is from the bottom, as you lie on the beach, where the scene of natural beauty is different again. On your way to the small, bustling fishing port of Cassis, you will discover two other beautiful calanques: Port-Pin and Port-Miou, the last one being a natural marina, home to sailboats on half of its length.
Walking time : 4.5 hours
Rating : challenging (stony ground)