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This is Mediterranean Provence, so the countryside combines sea, mountains, forest and agriculture – and most especially the vinyards of the famous Bandol wine. In principle, one can walk anywhere, unless it is fenced, however in summer certain forest routes may be closed.
The nearest walk (C1 or C2) by the sea starts about 20 minutes away, starting at Bandol, St Cyr or in between. A favourite expedition is to leave the car at Port d’Alon, walk to La Madrague des Lecques, have lunch – and maybe a swim – and walk back, perhaps by the inland route (1.5 hours each way).
Further away, there are all the beautiful Calanques, which are like a series of fyords. Drive to Cassis, have lunch in one of the restaurants in the port, and then follow the signs to the Calangues. There is a major walk along the sea, or just a short walk to enjoy the scenary. You can also see this by taking a boat from Bandol or Toulon.
There are a series of fine walks in the mountains above le Beausset. These include one which starts in le Beausset itself by the Stadium and goes up into the hills of Vieux Beausset including the cross at the top which is blue at night. The Gros Cerveau are the mountains above the sea which provide several excellent expeditions.
A dramatic expedition (D2) is to park on the N8 after St Anne d’Evenos, and climb until you can see the sea beyond the hills. (1.5k each way).
Another (D3) is to take the D4 left off the road down to Bandol, following the sign to the Zoo Exotique. Park after the road called Chemin St Trinide, park and walk up following the signs.
There are two major expeditions (D4 & D5) which start from Ollioulles. Take the N8 toward Toulon, driving through the hugely dramatic Gorges d’Ollioulles. Park in the village near the church (which is worth a quick visit), and make for Tremaillon.
The drive and walk up to the pilgrimage site of Sainte Baume – where Mary Magdalene is supposed to have lived for several decades – is quite magnificent.
An hour’s drive toward Marseilles and then up into to the mountains at Gemenos. Take D2 and then D80, follow the signs and park by the Hotellerie. Walking up to the Grotto takes under an hour, and you can then go further on up to St Pilon with its superb views. From there you can walk along the ridge right back to Signe.
Witsun and 21 July are the two main pilgrimage days.
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