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Hiking trail

Walk to Gemenos

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Say goodbye to Plan d'aups and the mountains and head down to sea level. A bus will take you from Gemenos to the charming harbour town of Cassis, where you will spend the next three nights. 
10.6 km
6:00 h
200 m
700 m

From the high alpine plateau, the walk climbs up to a mountain pass alongside a massive rock outcrop, before descending steeply on a rugged, narrow path into an eroded and wooded dry river valley. It ends on a valley plain in a semi-urban environment.

Today you will leave the sleepy town of Plan d'Aups Sainte Baume, returning along the route that first led you into the town two days ago.  The bed of the ancient Chemin de Fer leads you directly up to the Peace Monument at Col de Bertagne. Above you towers the massive stone face of Pic de Bertagne then you descend towards the ancient ice house “La Glacier”, zig-zagging through the herbs and shrubs. The smells of Provence permeate the air and the views across Vallon de Crides open up intermittently in stunning displays. You rapidly descend into the cool forest of familiar but miniature varieties of trees like oak, beech and holly until you meet the “Le Torrent du Fauge” which, despite its name, may be dry.  Take a very short detour to the ruins of the Cistercian Abbey and watch the source of its water bubble out from the rocks. Finally you walk through the park and picnic areas of the town of Gemenos before arriving at the Church of St Martin, the town's patron saint, and the bus stop.

Please check your accommodation sheet to check which hotel you are booked into in Cassis. The directions to Hotel Cassitel are detailed here, if you are booked elsewhere please see your accommodation sheet for directions. User
Sarah Stone
Updated: July 25, 2018

Highest point
875 m
Lowest point
150 m
Best time of year

Safety information

Always check the weather before setting off, and take heed of any paths that have been closed by the authorities.

Temperatures in Provence can soar, and you can't always rely on passing a water supply on your walk. Take at least 2 litres of water per person, perhaps even more on very hot days. Do not wait until you are thirsty to drink, and take regular sips as you go.

Tips, hints and links

There is no where to pick up food or drink along the way so a picnic and plenty of water is necesarry. You can ask you hotel to provide this (always ask upon check-in) or you can pick up supplies from the local bakery or supermarket before setting off.

Points of Interest

1) Lignite - or “brown coal”, has been mined in the Vallon de Chemin de Fer since the end of the 18th Century but with limited success. The operation was begun using the skills of German miners, the experts at the time, and required the construction of a narrow gauge railway to Plan d'Aups. This mine was one of the few non-nationalised concerns in France and its sporadic production was dogged by high transport costs and more efficient competition until 1922 when it closed.

2) The Wind Hole - is a geological oddity on the skyline of the Falaise de Cugens. On the descent from La Glaciere towards the Parc de St Pons, look for a rock by the path on your left, painted with a yellow icon like a mini sunrise and the words “Trou de vent”. From here search the cliff tops for a hole, like a giant polo mint, below the line between mountain and sky.

3) The Cistercian Abbey of St Pons - founded for nuns by Bishop Rainier of Marseille and by 1223 the nuns had joined the Order of the Provencal Sisters. As a religious centre and with its natural hydropower, the abbey became an important focal point for agriculture and industry in the region but was abandoned some two centuries after its establishment.


La Mairie (691 m)
43.326680, 5.711572
43°19'36.0"N 5°42'41.7"E
31T 719846 4800664


Gemenos, bus stop

Turn-by-turn directions

START: Between the fountain and La Mairie facing the mountain.

0.00km - AHEAD across the tarmac road towards the telephone box between the hotel and cafe and continue along the narrow tarmac lane and the car park and sign for 'La Brasque”.

0.80km - BEAR RIGHT past the low metal barrier. Continue uphill on the most obvious path following the yellow flashes. (Option: in order to view the old lavender fields and alpine meadows, follow the vehicle track and green flashes on the trees to the right at the first Y junction. Bear downhill following the green flashes and vehicle track, turning left before the ruined building with the green chain linked fence. The path descends to a stream which may be dry. Ignore the green markers at this point and continue up to your left, after the stream on a narrow grassy path, crossing the stream again to bear right in the direction of the radio mast on the mountain until you meet the main path uphill). From this point continue uphill on the narrow rocky path following the yellow flashes.  As you see the gravel car park and tarmac road on your left look for a yellow flash on a tree to you right. Turn left and then right on the yellow flashes, climb until the wooden signpost and Peace Memorial.

2.60km - AHEAD, downhill from the monument in the direction of “La Glaciere” and “Abbey de St Pons” and continue to the right at the next Y junction until the water trough amongst the trees.

3.30km - AHEAD, past the water trough and ancient “Ancien Glaciere” to the sign post following the direction of “Abbey de St Pons par Le Vallon de Fauge”.  Continue following the yellow flashes, passing a small refuge on your right and at the next junction bear left to follow the direction of Abbey de St Pons par Le Vallon de Fauge until an open graveled area with a cairn.

5.30km -SHARP RIGHT downhill following the yellow flashes, crossing a dry stream bed by a makeshift log bridge until the concrete road at cistern 69.

6.50km - BEAR LEFT downhill on concrete road, which quickly becomes a wide gravel track. Ignore all side turnings until the path junction with a huge rock and yellow markers on the left.

7.30km - AHEAD on the wide gravel path. (Option: turn left to visit the Abbey, approx 10 mins there & back) Continue along the wide gravel path until a wooden footbridge over the river. Turn left, cross the bridge and continue in the same direction until the tarmac road and stone road bridge.

8.60km - AHEAD, cross the road but not the stone bridge.  Follow the roped path which is soon joined by the river on your right. Eventually you cross the river at the car park entrance, bear right and avoid the busy tarmac road. Pass to the left of “Parc des Bolles” on to a narrow grassy path to re-cross the river and join the road. (CAUTION: Fast traffic). Continue along this road, heading towards the church when visible. The bus stop is in the square in front of the church

10.60km - FINISH

Take bus No: 7 - Aubagne, “Pole d'Echange”. (Free. dep: 14:00,15:00/16:00 M-S, none Sundays). Transfer bus No:68, terminating - Cassis, “Gendarmerie”. (€2.80. dep: 14:30,15:30/16:30 M-S, none Sundays)

On disembarking, continue downhill to a round-about, turn right into Av l'Arene and walk 300m to the Hotel Cassitel on your left. If you are booked into a different hotel, please see your accommodation sheet for directions. Remember to book taxi for La Ciotat!!


all notes on protected areas


43.326680, 5.711572
43°19'36.0"N 5°42'41.7"E
31T 719846 4800664
Arrival by train, car, foot or bike


Sturdy and comfortable walking boots or shoes are a must. You may like walking poles to assist with the descents.

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10.6 km
200 m
700 m


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