Outdoor Pursuits

France has an extensive network of Grandes Randonnées, well maintained and signposted rambling routes. There are several in this region of Provence and one, the GR90, passes through some of the most beautiful parts of the range of low mountains known as the Massif des Maures.

You could do worse than to centre your walking holiday on the large and extemely self-sufficient village of Collobrières. A leaflet available from the tourist office near the old bridge lists some spectacular walks in the area, some of them incorporating the GR90. All are a minimum of four hours in duration.

Highly recommended is the trek through chestnut groves to Chartreuse de la Verne, a hill-top charterhouse with stunning views over the Massif des Maures, and the walk up to the Plâteau Lambert, used by the Germans for landing planes during the war and dominated by two enormous and ancient standing stones. Both these walks are steep.

Mont Sainte-Victoire is a stark and imposing mass east of Aix. It often provided the inspiration for Cézanne's canvases of the region, the artist being close to obsessed with painting the mountain in all its different lights and hues. While the northern slope is gentle, the southern face is very steep, but fortunately most walking routes circle it from a distance, allowing some perspective on this impressive natural landmark. The GR9 route offers some spectacular walking.

The GR98 walking route gives you the opportunity to visit calanques (steep-sided inlets in the coast east of Marseille) which are other otherwise accessible from the sea. It will take about an hour and a half to reach the calanque En-Vau from Cassis.

Because walking in Provence, especially during the summer months, can be arduous, make sure you are properly equipped. Take:
  • Stout walking shoes
  • Wet and cold weather gear - the weather can change in an instant
  • Food and drink for energy.