A beautiful hike up one of the highest mountains in the Provence: the magnificent Sainte-Victoire. Enjoy 360° views as far as the Alps and the Ventoux. The Priory alone is well worth the effort.
Calculated time is computed with the distance, the height difference, and an average speed of 2.2 mph. For an intermediate walker, this time includes small breaks.
Set out from Bimont dam (municipality of Saint Marc Jaumegarde 13).
Cross the dam and then take the forest path for a few hundred metres. Follow signs for “Refuge Cézanne par Roques Hautes” through the pine forest. After following the path along the edge of the forest, take the path that leads downwards (the rightmost path). This part of the path is also a mountain bike trail. At the first crossing, which says VTT tout droit (mountain bikes straight on), take the path that goes down to the left (shortcut). Under the electricity line (and its building on the right), follow the signs for contournement (otherwise you will enter private property) which takes you through a kind of gorge in the middle of the “Crête du Marbre.” At the fork, take the left-hand path signposted Refuge Cézanne 1h30. From this magnificent shaded path that runs alongside a stream you will have beautiful views of the Croix de Provence and the challenge that lies ahead of you! You are at the lowest point of the hike.
Follow this track to where it meets another path on a ridge. Take a sharp left, towards the Sainte-Victoire (there are shortcuts from the hairpin bend and the little bridge over the stream). You will soon will reach Cézanne refuge (1).
It is worth taking a break here to look around. The mountain refuge is always closed but there is a picnic table and you can explore the ruins of Trou Abbey (see comments on the internet) with its threshing floor.
Set off on the climb up to the Priory along one of 3 routes: easy red, difficult red (what is the difference??) or yellow (rather exposed to the wind that day). We opted for the "difficult" red. There is just one 10m section where you need to grip on with your hands, but it isn’t dangerous.
When you reach Pas de l’Escalette, take the Imoucha path and carry on until you reach the Priory (2). The site is beautifully maintained by the Friends of the Priory of Sainte-Victoire (see comments on the internet).
Fifty metres higher, and a 10 minute walk, is the Croix de Provence (3) which can be seen throughout the region. (The return trip we did was neither very rewarding nor very pleasant as the path takes you up over a series of small rocks and with the wind we had to climb over the railing at the Croix de Provence to take pictures without losing our balance).
We turned back around at Bau de Vespres (the highest point of the walk at 1000m).
The return journey is back along the same path until you reach Pas de l’Escalette, and then you can take the Imoucha path, which is well marked, but in any case, all the paths lead to the dam, which you can see below.
D/A : mi 0 - alt. 1171ft - Barrage du Bimont
1 : mi 1.45 - alt. 942ft
2 : mi 1.75 - alt. 879ft
3 : mi 3.32 - alt. 1437ft - Refuge Cézanne
4 : mi 4.06 - alt. 2215ft
5 : mi 4.69 - alt. 2923ft - Prieuré de la Sainte-Victoire
6 : mi 4.87 - alt. 3038ft - Croix de Provence
7 : mi 6.55 - alt. 3297ft
D/A : mi 11.33 - alt. 1171ft
You will need good footwear, if possible with ankle support, as the terrain is rugged and wet in places.
There is a mountain refuge next to the Priory that is open all year round where you can eat, sleep, and warm up. Wood, food and service are not included!
There are toilets below the Priory.
Our actual walking time was 6.5 hours for a twenty kilometre walk (N.B the route marked on the map on this website does not take into account all the little turns you need to make when the climb becomes more difficult).
Visorando and this author cannot be held responsible in the case of accidents or problems occuring on this walk.
The ecomuseum in Saint Antonin sur Bayon.
This part of the Sainte-Victoire can be reached by bus from Aix, either via Vauvenargues or via Puyloubier (service about once an hour).
From the Croix de Provence, there are stunning 360° views of the Ventoux, the Alps, and closer by, of the Etang de Berre lake and Gardanne thermal power station.
A lovely walk which includes a chance to see Cézanne’s Windmill, to discover the ancient ruins of the Roman aqueduct and its waterfall and the Zola dam. In the distance you can see Mont Sainte-Victoire.
A physical loop hike along Sainte-Victoire, a climb to Prieuré Sainte-Victoire / Croix de Provence through Bau Cézanne and going back through "le Gouffre de Garagaï" and "les deux Aiguilles".
Sainte-Victoire is a highlight of Provence for hikers and climbers.
Before you start, make sure access to the massif is allowed because a regulation is applicable from 1 June to 30 September which and can limit access hours. See the link below:
A loop hike on the south side of Sainte-Victoire Montagne allowing access to the ridge via the Marbrière and the Brèche du Clapier (gap). The walk along the ridge towards the Croix de Provence offers splendid views. Descent via the Priory, the Pas du Berger and the Cézanne Shelter.
An energetic loop in Sainte-Victoire leaving from the Saint-Ser car park. The climb up goes via the east of the Bau de l'Aigle and the descent back down is via the 'Pas du Clapier'.
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The GPS track and description are the property of the author.