Chapelle Saint-Gabriel Hike – Out and About Provence.
One lazy Sunday afternoon while looking for inspiration and something to do, I decided to hike the area around “La Chapelle Saint Gabriel” with a friend of mine and her little one.
Now keep in mind, bringing a toddler along changes everything… You get to look at things from a fresh perspective. Who knew how entertaining a stick could be ??? Or how fascinating a rock ? Or what fun it is to stop and pretend you are a bear lost in the forest ? Borrow a toddler (and only ONE) and you will see what I mean…
The “Chapelle Saint Gabriel”, not far from Tarascon and on the way to the Baux de Provence (both great places to visit), and is a great stop should you be in the area. I highly recommend that you take some extra time to really visit as there are tons of things to see and do. Should you need accommodations, try “Le Mas D’Aigre” at the foot of Baux de Provence – it looks fabulous.
Just the sight of the Chapel is already impressive enough to make you want to stop and explore further, but the hike through the pine forest is also quite pleasant and very relaxing – perfect for a Sunday afternoon.
Access is easy from D33 (near Fontvieille), and there is even a small parking lot conveniently located in front.
The Chapelle Saint Gabriel hike makes an easy loop (3.5 miles) with just a little elevation change. It takes you from the chapel, up to the medieval towers, and through a lovely pine forest full of sticks, rocks, and imaginary friends. You did remember to bring the toddler, right ???
For those wanting to do a little more, leave the toddler at home and hike the full 12km (5hrs) following the Vallon de la Lèque (a rock climbing area), past several Troglodytes (cave dwellings), and through the pine forest. Along the way you will be able to see Arles and the l’Abbaye de Montmajour in the distance. If you want to stay longer, try the restful and intriguing little cabin “Cabane de la Lèque“.
The chapel and hike are located along the road D33 between Fontvieille and Saint-Etienne du Grès
Coordinates 43° 46′ 00″ North 4° 41′ 42″ East
Map : www.tracegps.com/adv/ignzoom.php?idcircuit=11730
For those with a good sense of direction (unlike myself), here are some easy directions for the short loop. It’s always recommended of course to bring along a good map. Personally, I just brought along my girlfriend who has a MUCH better sense of direction.
- From the parking lot, stroll up the walkway and take time to discover the beautiful Chapelle Saint Gabriel.
- Travel through the olive groves on the right, and make your way to behind the chapel.
- You should easily be able to spot the path that wanders upwards past the quarry and continues on to the medieval towers (those marks you see are from the stone smiths, they were paid by the piece and the marks were used to determine the payment they were due.
- From the towers, continue up until you encounter a crossroad. Follow to your right up the softly sloping incline.
- Continue traveling through the forest. The path soon opens up and meanders through groves of rosemary and thyme. Caress a few sprigs to release their scent…
- Travel another mile or so to the next crossroad, this time going left. Slowly loop back through the forest to the Chapelle Saint Gabriel and the parking lot.
For the short loop, allow an easy couple of hours if you have children along so they can stop to climb the rocks and smell the rosemary (just don’t pick anything as there are strict laws protecting this fragile environment). Bring a picnic along and make a full day of the outing.
There is so much interesting history in Provence; I’m always amazed at how much you can discover once you start scratching the surface. If you want to learn the history behind “La Chapelle Saint Gabriel”, look out for my upcoming blog post to be published shortly.
For the armchair travellers out there, just click to enlarge the photos and follow along on our hike :
Other things to do nearby:
- Château des Baux
Grand Rue – 13520 LES BAUX DE PROVENCE
Tél. 04 90 54 55 56
- La Petite Provence du Paradou
Village des Santons, workshop and boutique
75 Avenue de la Vallée des Baux, 13520 LE PARADOU
Tél. 04 90 54 35 75
- Musée Frédéric Mistral
11 Avenue Lamartine – 13910 MAILLANE
Tél. 04 90 95 84 19
- Musée Estrine – Centre d’interprétation Van Gogh
8 rue Estrine – 13210 SAINT REMY DE PROVENCE
Tél. 04 90 92 34 72
- Mas de la Pyramide
A table d’notes and rural museum located in former Roman quarry
Chemin des Carrières – 13210 SAINT REMY DE PROVENCE
Tél. 04 90 92 00 81 (Call to confirm hours – they tend to vary widely)
- Site archéologique de Glanum
Route des Baux de Provence – 13210 SAINT REMY DE PROVENCE
Tél. 04 90 92 23 79 – Fax 04 90 92 35 07
Send pictures if you do the Chapelle Saint Gabriel Hike ! I will post them for everyone to enjoy 🙂
-Girl Gone Gallic