France (May 2017): Hikes on the southwestern slope of Mt. Ventoux and on the Crete de Saint-Amand

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Hike on the southwestern slope of Mt. Ventoux: Combe Obscure and Combe de Malaval.

Map: The hike (in dotted red line) starts at the yellow dot north of Bedouin, in a parking next to the Domaine of Belezy, follows a path toward the west to the entrance of the Combe Obscure, follows the combe up to the ridge of the western shoulder of Mt. Ventoux, crosses the ridge, follows a series of paths on the upper northern side of the massif toward the east, crosses the ridge back to the south, and descends into the Combe de Malaval to return to the starting point.

[From the map ″Massif du Ventoux″ 1:50,000, Editions Didier Richard, 9 Grand Rue, 38000 Grenoble, France.]


The path toward the Combe Obscure is a rocky trail with many small ups and downs.


The path overlooks vineyards and, in the background, the plain of the Comtat Venaissin.





Entry into the Combe Obscure. ″Obscure″ means ″dark″ and, indeed, most of it lies in a comfortable shade.



Rock formations above the combe.


Sheepfold. Mt. Ventoux used to be a major sheep farming area.


Further up the path passes by clean limestone crags equipped with bolts. Not surprisingly (it was a Saturday), there were a few local climbers (see photo on the right below).


The Combe Obscure finally opens up (left) and soon after the path enters a forest of pine trees (right)...


... and then a forest of cedar trees.


View toward the west after crossing the ridge. The town of Malaucene is visible in the valley on the left of the photo. The Crete de Saint-Amand stands in the background behind Malaucene.


View toward the north (Dauphine).


View toward the northeast. The massif in the background behind the small valley is the Sommet de la Plate and the pass on its right is the Col du Comte.


Crossing the ridge back to the southern slope of the mountain.


Large caverns in a limestone cliff at the start of the descent into the Combe Malaval.


The initial part of the descent in the Combe Malaval is gentle and in the shade of small trees.


Sheepfold sheltered in a cave.



Soon the trail becomes rocky again...


...with more large carverns in the uper parts of the cliffs on both sides of the trail.



These caverns are followed by a series of impressive sheepfolds in caves at the bottom of the combe.










Reaching the Combe Malaval.


Hike on the Crete de Saint-Amand: From the village of Le Crestet to the cross of Saint-Amand and back.

Map: This hike shown in dotted red line starts at the yellow dot in the parking below the entrance of the village of Le Crestet.


Annotated photo from the previous hike showing the relative locations of Le Crestet, the Crete de Saint-Amand, and the town of Malaucene.


View of le Crestet, with its 11th-century church on the left and its 9th-century castle on the right, from the start of the hike.


The Crete de Saint-Amand seen from a location called Les Traverses (see map above).


Zoom on the Crete de Saint-Amand.


Views from the south-eastern side of the Crete de Saint-Amand toward Mt. Ventoux.



The limestone ridge seen from below.



The northeastern portion of the rocky ridge seen from the ridge.


Other views from the ridge, toward the north (left) and the south (right).


Mt. Ventoux seen from the middle of the Crete de Saint-Amand.


View toward the south-east from the ridge.


The Farm La Verriere (see map) and surrounding vineyards and forests seen from the ridge.


Another view of the Farm La Verriere and its surroundings.


The cross standing at the southwestern end of the ridge, the highest point (~730m) of the Crete de Saint-Amand.


Gorgeous views over the Dentelles de Montmirail from the cross, with the Chaine du Clapis on the left, the Dentelles Sarrasines in the middle, and the Grande Montagne on the right (visible only in the first photo below).



View over vineyards south of the cross, with the Comtat Venaissin plain in the background.


View at the start of the descent on the western side of the Crete de Saint-Amand, below the cross.


Beautiful and fragrants brooms (Genisteae) along the way back to Le Crestet.


Manicured vineyard near the farm La Verriere.


The fountain in the small central square of Le Crestet, the end of the hike.



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