Circuit following in Marcel Pagnol's footsteps, passing by the Baume du Plantier (Manon’s Cave) then reaching the legendary Garlaban. The return journey passes by the peak of Taoumé and Grosibou Cave and ending with the Vallon de Passe-Temps.
Calculated time is computed with the distance, the height difference, and an average speed of 2.2 mph. For an intermediate walker, this time includes small breaks.
Start at the car park near the Raimu Well located at the end of Chemin de Ruissatel in the town of Aubagne.
(S) With your back to the car park, turn left to reach the intersection of Chemin de la Font de Mai and Chemin de Ruissatel.
Turn left on Chemin de la Font de Mai in the direction of "Col Aubignane". When the paved road ends head past the barrier and turn left on the track. A few metres on pass by a path off to the left and continue on the track. 600 m further up, when the track makes a left turn, ignore the path that continues straight and reach a marker post. Pass a blue marker on the left and go straight to the pass.
(1) At the Col d’Aubignane, pass by paths on the right and left and continue opposite in the direction of "Garlaban par le Vallon des Piches".
(2) 200 m further on, turn right on the path towards the “Grotte du Plantier ou de Manon." The layout of the markings on the map is wrong on this stretch. The trail climbs up into the scrubland, meets another trail coming from the left and continues climbing towards a crossroads. Make a round trip to the right following the Blue markings that lead to Manon’s cave (3) 100 m further up.
Come back to the path, continue right heading up in the direction of "Garlaban par le Vallon des Piches". Pass through Col Sallis and continue to the next crossroads. Pass by the path on the left that goes to the end of the Vallon des Piches and turn right to head through Pas Garrigue. With the Garlaban in sight, follow the trail on the plateau, which joins a track.
(4) At the crossroads, pass the track that turns off to the right and continue opposite the esplanade to the chapel that can be seen ahead.
Continue opposite to find a trail that climbs to the top of Garlaban. Endeavour to follow the Red markings because many hikers passing on alternative paths have created many trails. In any event, they all lead to the top. Once at the Croix du Garlaban (5) and its orientation table, enjoy the 360 ° views.
Take the route in reverse to the chapel and further on the marker post along the side of the track.
(4) Continue across the forest track for about 1 km. 500 m further up, leave the track and take the left path that goes down into a small valley and then back across the plateau. The trail widens and reaches a crossroads.
(6) Turn left on the flat road that offers views of Marseille on the horizon. Arrive at a marker at a meadow and the Puits du Mûrier, ignore the Blue markings that head right and continue left to “Le Taoumé".
80 m further on, pass the path straight ahead and take the path up to the right (note that the markings are missing at the intersection). Pass by the next path down the left, as well as Baume Sourne and continue. Immediately prior to a marker on a track, pass the path on the left.
(7) Turn left on the track in the direction of “Le Taoumé" then leave it to go right to the other side. Continue left and immediately choose the left path up to the summit. Pass some small rock steps to reach the Taoumé Peak (8).
Continue the path on the ridges and down to the right to the Grosibou Cave (9). At the marker, turn left towards "La treille par le balcon des Cassaïres" and along a rocky ridge at the bottom. Arrive at a crossroads at a small platform and go left towards the "Garlaban par la Baume Sourne". Continue on this road for about 300m and find a cairn on the right which marks the point to leave the path.
(10) Turn right on a small inconspicuous trail, marked by cairns, running through the middle of the scrubland. A landmark is visible, a small area of soil in the middle of vegetation. Head to this.
Head through this section without vegetation (the landmark mentioned above) and reach a crossroads with several large stones. Go straight on the beautiful path for about 150 m and locate a cairn on the left.
(11) Leave the road and take the inconspicuous path that heads down to the left. It leads opposite to cross a small dry stream and becomes much more clearly visible. The trail will join another trail coming from the left and go downhill with old yellow markings that appear here and there.
When the trail gets wider it reaches a small platform. Continue to the left and reach the Vallon de Passe-temps at a T-junction. Turn right towards a large pine and a few metres further on turn left.
(12) Take a left to go up the valley on slabs and then on a trail. In the climb, ignore large spray-painted arrows and continue. Ignore a path going left around the bend (not marked on the map) and cut across a path a little further on. Continue on the trail, pass a path starting out to the left and find the path taken on the outbound leg.
(2) Continue on the trail and take same path as on the outbound leg passing the Col de l'Aubignane (1) then back down following the Blue markings to the car park.
D/A : mi 0 - alt. mi 0
1 : mi 1.01 - alt. mi 1.01 - Col d'Aubignane
2 : mi 1.15 - alt. mi 1.15 - Go right towards Plantier Cave or Manon Cave
3 : mi 1.79 - alt. mi 1.79 - Grotte du Plantier ou Grotte de Manon
4 : mi 2.91 - alt. mi 2.91 - Turn right to Garlaban
5 : mi 3.14 - alt. mi 3.14 - Garlaban
6 : mi 3.99 - alt. mi 3.99 - Turn left on the path
7 : mi 4.71 - alt. mi 4.71 - Turn left towards Taoumé
8 : mi 5.18 - alt. mi 5.18 - Pic du Taoumé
9 : mi 5.25 - alt. mi 5.25 - Grotte du Grosibou
10 : mi 5.67 - alt. mi 5.67 - Leave the path, turn right
11 : mi 6.06 - alt. mi 6.06 - Leave the path, turn left
12 : mi 6.53 - alt. mi 6.53 - Turn left on the slabs
D/A : mi 7.96 - alt. mi 7.96
Some points to take shelter in the legendary caves.
No drinking water refill point.
Warning: The waypoint markers between points (10) and (12) and are limited to a few explanatory panels and cairns. It is immersed in the heart of the scrubland, at the time of Marcel and his friend Lili, when they went to look for traps set to catch partridges...
Hikideas and this author cannot be held responsible in the case of accidents or problems occuring on this walk.
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