France (May 2017):
Two Day Hikes in the Dentelles of Montmirail and Mont Ventoux
The Dentelles of Montmirail and Mont Ventoux are two great hiking destinations in southeastern France, respectively, 30km and 45km northeast of Avignon. The Dentelles de Montmirail consist of several limestone ridges surrounded by vineyards producing prestigious wine (Gigondas, Vacqueras, Beaumes de Venise). These ridges have been finely chiseled by wind, sun, and erosion, hence their name ″dentelles″, which means ″lace″ (illustrated by the banner at the top of this page). They are a popular rock climbing destination. With its bald (bare limestone) summit reaching 1912m, Mont Ventoux dominates the entire region and is often called the ″Giant of Provence″. The Tour de France made it famous and its ascension is extremely popular among amateur cyclists.
Dentelles de Montmirail:
They consist of three main ridges: Chaine du Clapis, Dentelles Sarrasines, and Grande Montagne. This hike starts and ends at the base of the Rocher Saint Christophe (small parking), 2km from the village of Lafare.
Rocher Saint Christophe seen from the Vallat de l′Aiguille. Mont Ventoux is visible in the background.
Northern side of the Chaine du Clapis, seen from the Vallat de l′Aiguille.
Dentelles Sarrasines, also seen from the Vallat de l′Aiguille.
Breach in the Chaine du Clapis (looking toward the south over vineyards).
The same breach seen from the other side.
The two sides of the breach. Note the climber in the photo on the right.
Southern side of the Chaine du Clapier, seen from another breach (with Mont Ventoux in the background in the first two photos).
View over vineyards toward the southwest (Vacqueras).
At a breach in the Dentelles Sarrasines after crossing the Col d′Aslau. Looking toward the northwest (left) and the northeast (right)
Southern side of the Dentelles Sarrasines.
View of the Chaine du Clapis from the Dentelles Sarrasines.
Holes and needles of the Dentelles Sarrasines.
The Dentelles Sarrasines seen from their northern side. In the first photo below there are four climbers, plus one barely visible at the top on the left of the highest thin needle.
Vineyards on the northern side of the Dentelles Sarrasines.
View toward the Grande Montagne.
Reaching back the Rocher Saint Christophe.
There are several routes to climb Mont Ventoux. This route ascents the mountain on its northern side. It starts at a place called Le Plan (approximately 700m in elevation) in the small valley of Beaumont-du-Ventoux (see map at the top of this page). The total elevation gain/loss of elevation of the route is about 1300m.
Mont Ventoux seen from the southeast (from the Gorge de la Nesque).
Mont Ventoux seen from the west (from the Dentelles de Montmirail).
Summit of Mont Ventoux seen from the Grand Vallat during the ascent.
The impressive Grave Faouletiere. During a snow storm in winter it is not a good place where to get lost!
Looking down (toward the north) during the ascent of the bald summit.
Getting very close to the summit.
Upper part of the Grave Faouletiere.
Weather station at the summit. The station, which had been closed in 1968, was reopened in July 2016.
View from the summit toward the east (toward the Col des Tempetes, the ″Storm Pass″). On average, winds blow at 90km/h or more two out of three days per year. Extreme winds with speeds as high as 320km/h have been recorded. So, the name Ventoux, which means windy, is quite appropriate.