Discovering Rochefort-du-Gard and its religious heritage, then diving into the green oak trees, which make up a large part of the surrounding vegetation, for some solitude.
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.
Depart from the car park at the Town Hall situated on Avenue de Signargues (D976) or the next car park 150 m higher up on the left.
(D/A) With your back to the car park, join Avenue de Signargues, cross over it and take the old Chemin de Notre-Dame almost directly opposite. Follow this route, ignoring all the other roads to either side, until you reach a T-junction at a stop sign.
(1) Turn left and follow along Avenue du Sanctuaire which climbs to the left. About 100 m higher up, ignore Chemin de Croix on the right - access to it is closed by a gate - and instead stay on the tarmac. A little after, make a right turn and continue up to the next bend marked by a path marker cross.
Head to the right onto the road and, 50 m further on, locate steps going up to the right. Climb the three flights of steps until you reach the courtyard of Notre-Dame de Grâce.
(2) Turn around and go back down two flights of steps and turn left onto the path heading in the direction of the wayside cross. Go along the wall until you reach a wayside cross located on the left at the top of a wide step. Progress a few steps further to reach the last path marker cross. Turn left onto the path which, after a few steps, goes around the sanctuary.
Ignore the small path on the left and continue on this path which goes up to the cliffs (be careful as there are no protective barriers). Follow the path which tilts to the right and start the descent over the rocks; some of the sections on the rocks can be tricky. The path bends to the left and then meets a path at the foot of the cliffs.
(3) Take the path to the left and link up with a path that goes down into the undergrowth. A little after, at the fork, turn right onto the path which climbs gently. At the next fork, turn right onto a path, which is quite stony, to pretty much reach the plateau.
Ignore the path on the right (not shown on the map) and continue along the same path. A bit further on, ignore the path on the left and stay to the right on the path which quickly meets a crossroads - recognisable by its slabs of stone.
(4) Turn left onto the wide path and enjoy the views of Rochefort-du-Gard on the left. Ignore all the paths and trails heading off on either side, some are more visible than others, and stay on the main path. After two wide bends, the path arrives at a large crossroads (sign for renewable energy trail on the left).
(5) Turn right, locate a path coming from the left and continue straight ahead to go alongside the forest of solar panels on the right up to a passageway under the motorway (cistern on the left).
(6) Go under the A9 and, just after the tunnel, ignore the paths on the left and right and keep going straight ahead. Keep on the main path, ignoring the other traces of paths, until you reach a big fork in the path.
(7) Take the path to the left which becomes wilder. You will reach a T-junction.
(8) Take the right, going more or less alongside the high voltage electricity wires, until you finally go underneath them and arrive at a barrier. Climb over it and continue on the path which goes alongside the D111 and then joins it.
Continue straight ahead on the road for about 200 m until you reach a wide square with a monument dedicated to the Resistance on the left.
(9) Go behind the monument and then turn left to find a path which heads off into the trees. Follow the path on the left at the fork and stay on the main path. Locate a path coming from the left and continue on it to the right. Don't worry about the other lateral paths which are poorly visible. You will arrive at a T-junction.
(10) Take the left for about 600 m until you reach the D111. Follow the path which goes alongside it to the right, ignore the tarmacked path which heads off to the right towards the motorway. Continue on the D111 and pass over the A9. Continue on to the next crossroads which marks the entrance to the photovoltaic solar power facility.
(11) Turn right onto the tarmacked road. Turn right at the first crossroads onto the DFCIY81 track. Stay on the main path, ignoring all the paths heading off on each side. Go past the Mas de Panissière (Provençal farmhouse) and continue on until you reach the Panissière crossroads.
"Red and White (GR63) Waymarking + Yellow"
(12) Take the left in the direction of Mour de la Coudette. At a very large crossroads (the marker has deteriorated), turn left and continue on until you reach tarmac a bit further on at No 1116 and then the marker for Mour de Coudette.
(13) Leave the tarmac and turn left onto a path going into the green oak trees. Still keep to the main path, ignoring the other paths. You will reach some vineyards and then a tarmacked road. Turn right after 100 m and then head to the left onto a path which winds between the vegetation and houses.
Cross a road, (housing estate under construction in April 2016) and continue opposite. The path inclines to the left and re-joins the tarmac at No 235 of Chemin de la Source. Continue on this route until it reaches the D976.
(14) Cross the road carefully and turn left to go alongside it for a few metres up to the stop sign. Turn right onto Chemin de Vaujus, leaving behind, here too, all the other routes on either side. After more than one kilometre, join the Chemin de la Rouvière coming from the right and follow it to the left up to the sign which says "céder le passage" ("give way") on the D287. Turn left for about 30 m until you arrive at a large crossroads.
(15) Ignore the two paths on the right and one on the left and continue opposite on the Chemin de la Croix de Saze. Right at the end, turn right onto Calade de l'Abreuvoir and then left straight away onto the road going uphill. Cut across Rue des Rochers and continue on opposite on the narrow street which turns into another road leading to Castelas.
(16) Enjoy the view and the orientation table and then continue on the road which goes around the building (Montée de l'Ancienne Eglise - 'Rise of the Old Church'). Turn right onto Rue de la Campanille and then left to reach Place du Comte Raymond VI.
Take the right and join Rue du Grand Pont. Take several steps to the left towards the former Saint-Joseph chapel which has become the town hall.
(17) Turn right into Avenue Mistral and then turn right onto Avenue de Signargues to return to the car park (D/A).
D/A : km 0 - alt. 104m
1 : km 0.91 - alt. 86m - Avenue du Sanctuaire, turn left.
2 : km 1.51 - alt. 119m - Notre-Dame de Grâce
3 : km 1.86 - alt. 90m - Left on the path.
4 : km 2.54 - alt. 118m - Slabs of stone crossroads.
5 : km 4.54 - alt. 136m - Turn right towards the solar panels.
6 : km 4.88 - alt. 145m - Tunnel under the A9.
7 : km 5.57 - alt. 168m - Large fork, turn left.
8 : km 6.84 - alt. 213m - T-junction, turn right.
9 : km 8.27 - alt. 230m - Monument to the Resistance.
10 : km 9.74 - alt. 187m - Turn left.
11 : km 11.12 - alt. 151m - Turn right opposite the solar panels.
12 : km 12.39 - alt. 149m - Panissière Crossroads.
13 : km 12.82 - alt. 157m - Mour de Coudette Crossroads.
14 : km 14.6 - alt. 151m - Turn left onto the D976.
15 : km 15.99 - alt. 107m - Opposite on the Chemin de la Croix de Saze.
16 : km 16.45 - alt. 107m - Le Castelas.
17 : km 16.68 - alt. 110m - Saint-Joseph Chapel (Town Hall)
D/A : km 16.96 - alt. 104m
A good portion of the route is on tarmac and on forest paths with not many views. If you are allergic, this hike is not suitable for you.
Shorter variation (12 km):
Just before going under the motorway (6), take the path on the left which goes alongside it for 800 m and then reaches the entrance to the photovoltaic solar panel facility. Then take up the route as described above.
Visorando and this author cannot be held responsible in the case of accidents or problems occuring on this walk.
The Notre-Dame de Grâce Sanctuary: It was built in the Carolingian era (by Charlemagne in 798) and transformed into a Benedictine monastery. It was a Marist convent in 1836 and from 1964 a charity home up until the revolution. In the 17th century, it underwent a renewal connected to the reform of the Catholic church, both in the realms of piety and in the buildings which were completely renovated and enlarged. It was a Marist convent in 1836 and a charity home from 1964.
Castelas: This was the first parish church dedicated to Saint-Bardulphe. It was part of the Old Village, and surrounded by ramparts.
Saint-Joseph Chapel (town hall): Built in 1729 with stones from the former château, it was consecrated on 2 October 1734. The interior has survived with its nave vault and narrow choir.
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The GPS track and description are the property of the author.