St-Remy-de-Provence - Rocher des Deux Trous - Glanum

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This beautiful walk begins in the old Provençal market town of St-Remy-de-Provence. Historically, it was the birthplace of Nostradamus and was also where Van Gogh lived while he was being treated for his mental illness. It has a core of medieval streets and buildings, which is worth exploring when you return after the walk.

From St-Remy, we climb up into Les Alpilles (which translates as 'The Little Alps'). These are a range of hills rising to no more than 350m, so the climb is quite forgiving, but they have a rugged beauty which lends them the look of a much more impressive mountain range.

Our first stop of the day is the Lac des Peiroou on the Mas de Gros. This lake is actually a reservoir, but it nestles in a stunning rocky valley, making it an idyllic spot. You will need your camera!

We now climb gently through woodland to the Alpille ridge and soon views open up in all directions. Before long, we reach a decision point. The walk incorporates a short climb (about fifty minutes) up to The Rocher des Deux Trous (The Rock With Two Holes). The first part is quite steep and you'll be glad of the chance to stop awhile and take in the views. Just before reaching the Rocher, we top an unnamed summit, from which there are views in all directions. As you approach the Rocher, the holes aren't obvious, but as you pass to the side, suddenly there they are. There's a great opportunity for photographing through the holes, giving a rocky frame to your pictures.

We return to the decision point via a longer, but much more level route and then descend steadily through a rocky valley to Glanum. This is an ancient Roman colony, which was abandoned in 260AD. It lay undisturbed, being slowly buried by alluvial deposits swept down from Les Alpilles, before being rediscovered and excavated in 1921. They are said to be the most important Roman excavations in France. You can see much of the excavations from the footpath as you pass behind the site, but it's well worth the 6.10 Euros entrance fee.

Associated with Glanum, but in a public area across the road, you will find Les Antiques. These are a very impressive Triumphal Arch and Cenotaph, dating from 20AD and 20BC respectively. Also close at hand, you may wish to visit the former psychiatric hospital and monastery of St Paul de Mausole, where Van Gogh was a patient. He painted around 150 pictures of the countryside around the hospital during his stay. We will see plaques reproducing some of them at various locations as we follow the last part of the Van Gogh Trail back into the town.

France - South of France - Provence - Bouches-du-Rhone

Features

Ancient Monument, Birds, Cafe, Church, Food Shop, Gift Shop, Great Views, Hills or Fells, Industrial Archaeology, Lake/Loch, Mountains, Museum, Public Transport, Restaurant, Wildlife, Woodland