This chapel is on the ridge of the Forest of Saoû, above the ruins of an old priory. At the top of the climb from La Clastre, hikers have breathtaking views of the hanging valley of Saoû.
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.
Car park: Place de la Liberté, in the village centre.
Go past the church, the fountain and the town hall, then drive up Montée de Carcavelle, to the right. The car park is on the right, 50m further up.
On leaving the car park, walk down Montée de la Carcavelle, turn left along the D738 then right into the Rue du Solaure. This takes you past the church, where there is a signpost marking the start of the walk (1). Take the first right, the Chemin des Mariés. Go past the cemetery and after a few metres head right along a path which continues along the Chemin des Mariés as far as the road leading up to Piégros.
(2) Follow the road to the left for about 200m. At a corner before a hairpin bend, take the lefthand path that cuts across this bend and joins the road again a bit higher up. Pass below the castle and hamlet of Piégros.
(3) At the cross, turn left. Take the track which turns back on itself and continues up the valley. After about 10 minutes, this track becomes a path. Continue straight on to the south-east as far as the road. Turn left to reach Bon-Secours Chapel.
(4) At this point, there is a discrepancy between the IGN map and the actual terrain (signposts).
At the chapel:
- the IGN map indicates that the route passes left of the chapel and then turns right after a few metres;
- the signpost indicating the way up is to the right of the chapel (the route shown here).
Both variants join together in the same lane which crosses a track and climbs above an area where trees have been felled very recently. Stay on this lane, climb up to the junction of two tracks (the La Selle signpost) and continue straight on through the woods towards Saint-Médard.
After two hairpins, you reach the ruins of the priory. (5). The route continues up to the right and climbs to the crest of the ridge, then on to Saint-Médard Chapel. From the chapel, it is possible to continue along the ridge-line to the east and/or south-west to obtain better views.
Return to the ruins (5), descend to the crossroads (the Saint-Médard signpost) and take the path to the left, which can be slippery, to Pas Court.
(6) Ignore the path to the left which leads down the south-facing slope and turn right towards the north, along a clearly defined path with tight bends.
On reaching an intersection, head left towards the saddles of Pas Saint-Michel and Pas de Faucon. Pass the Pas Saint-Michel saddle, continue along the same path towards Pas de Faucon, switching briefly to the other slope of the ridge.
(7) On reaching the foot of the cliff at the Pas de Faucon (also known as the Pas de la Palle) drop sharply down the northern slope, through boxwood undergrowth, on a very steep, slippery path, with very tight zigzags. Make sure you keep to the right of the thalweg. Continue straight down after crossing a first track. On reaching a second track, continue straight down along it, to the north-east.
(8) About 250m after a sharp bend, join the bridle trail and follow it to the left, through meadows and woods, to the junction known as Le Collet.
(9) At the Le Collet signpost, ignore path No 90 towards Saoû on the left and head right, northwards towards Piégros-La Clastre. Pass to the left of the ruined building and climb up opposite beneath the pines. Stay on the main path which skirts left round Puyjovent Hill. The waymarking is a small yellow triangle with the number 90. After a small descent, the path turns left and west, reaching a cultivated field.
(10) Follow the right-hand edge of this field northwards to the next intersection.
(11) Turn along the right-hand track towards Piégros-La Clastre. On reaching a minor road, follow it to the right for a few yards, then turn left, again for a few yards. Turn right along the lane which passes to the left of a house and then below it. Continue along the lane, cross a minor road further down and carry straight on. Skirt left round a very fine farm to reach a road and follow it to the left for about a hundred metres.
(12) Here again, the map is at variance with the situation on the ground: a route has been established around the houses. This waymarked route to the right skirts a field, enters the woods and further down joins the track which leads back through fields to the village of La Clastre.
D/A : km 0 - alt. 233m
1 : km 0.12 - alt. 232m - Church of Piégros-La-Clastre
2 : km 2.51 - alt. 323m - Road
3 : km 2.98 - alt. 387m - At the cross, head left
4 : km 4.03 - alt. 508m - Bon-Secours Chapel
5 : km 5.95 - alt. 831m - Saint-Médard signpost
6 : km 6.67 - alt. 684m - Pas Court, head right
7 : km 7.42 - alt. 653m - Pas de Faucon, head right
8 : km 8.08 - alt. 488m - Horse-riding trail, left, westwards
9 : km 9.43 - alt. 498m - Le Collet signpost, right
10 : km 10.75 - alt. 471m - Cultivated field, head right, north
11 : km 11.16 - alt. 482m - Right
12 : km 12.95 - alt. 365m - Way round the houses, to the right
13 : km 14.21 - alt. 262m
D/A : km 14.54 - alt. 233m - Car park, Place de la Liberté
Drinking water: at Piégros, just before waypoint (3), water flows into a small basin in the wall of a house, on the right-hand side on the way up. It is not marked "drinking water" and is a private supply, but the owner often comes to chat with us, and we have always drunk there. At present, I have no further information on the water quality.
The usual hiking equipment: good footwear, since the ground can be slippery.
This walk can also be done in the other direction (if the steep descent is intimidating).
There are several routes to Saint-Médard Chapel.
Visorando and this author cannot be held responsible in the case of accidents or problems occuring on this walk.
The Saint-Médard Chapel :
The story goes that an eagle protected Saint Médard from the rain by spreading its wings above his head. This gave rise to a widespread local belief that if it rains on Saint Médard's day, it will keep raining for the next forty days. Saint Médard's day is celebrated on 8th June and was believed to be the anniversary of the Great Flood, hence the saying "Saint-Médard, grand Pissard" (Saint Médard, he pisses hard). He was therefore adopted as the patron saint of umbrella makers and sellers. Farmers also pray to him to bring rain.
This legend also inspired generations of newly-weds to take the "bride and groom's way" (the "Chemin des Mariés") up to the chapel to invoke Saint Médard's protection from "storms" in their marriage!
The west summit of Saou forest, which marks the beginning (or end) of this forest.
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Visit the Trois Becs, the high points of the Forest of Saou.
Correction: the elevation is 750 m instead of the 1071 m described.
A complete change of scene in this superb canyon between two narrow cliffs. An unusual place where a crevasse plunges into nowhere, with a peaceful and shady atmosphere between boulders, lichens and ferns.
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The GPS track and description are the property of the author.