The Castellas de Roquemartine, the Crête du Defens, and the Grottes de Calès caves

A nice hike in the Alpilles to see the ruins of Castellas de Roquemartine (Château de la Reine Jeanne), and end with the caves of Calès, a very interesting cave network.

Technical sheet
No. 4098798
A Lamanon walk posted on 09/03/15 by LB_Neil. Update : 22/03/17
Calculated time Calculated time: 4h25[?]
Distance Distance : 12.62km
Vertical gain Vertical gain : 285m
Vertical drop Vertical drop : 284m
Highest point Highest point : 302m
Lowest point Lowest point : 99m
Average Difficulty : Average
Back to starting point Back to starting point : Yes
Walking Walking
Area Area : Alpilles
Location Location : Lamanon (13113)
Starting point Starting point : N 43.708433° / E 5.084258°
Download : -

Description

(S) Park in the St. Denis spring car park. Continue west where the small paved road becomes a dirt road, passing by all the trails right and left. It runs through a pine and oak wood and along the vineyards.

(1) Cross the D72 and then take a trail opposite that passes in areas of mazets (small, rural, single-room buildings). After a wide right turn, the road continues west along a large cypress hedge to arrive at a crossing.

(2) Continue straight through the ruins. On maps it says ‘’Ruines de Notre-Dame'', but it seems they are on private property. From here one can see the beautiful Castellas Roquemartine to continue in its direction. Pass by a path on the left and continue to the right to get around the rocky outcrop, ignoring a path off to the right.

(3) At the place called "Mas Blanc", at the junction with a road coming from the right, follow the tracks that go left towards the castle. On the way to the castle you can see an amazing ruined tower on the left, which is an old pigeon loft that is worth a look. Continue up to Le Castellas.
‘’Warning: the ruins of the Castellas in danger of collapsing, approach it at your own risk, and it is strongly advised not to stay near the walls and avoid entering the older parts, no matter how sturdy they appear''.

(4) From the castle, turn left, southbound, ignoring two trails to the left and one to the right. Then continue on to the ridge, to the south-east. Find and take a marked trail on the right to reach the D72 road.

(5) Take the road to the right for about 150 m, to find the GR6 on the left, which leads to caves of Calès. Stay on the main trail ignoring all other paths. After about 1 km, this wide trail turns right and begins the climb to the Plateau du Defens, which offers a nice view of Eyguières, Salon-de-Provence and the Etang de Berre.

(6) Continue left on the GR6 (whose markings are not always easy to spot...). Before passing under a power line, pass by a track on the left and continue the path that goes down to the caves of Calès.

(7) At the first tank, continue straight passing by the path that leads to the right. The trail branches off to the left, after approximately 300 m. Then there is a second tank before a wide right turn that leads to the third tank.

(8) Continue on the GR6 to the left to get around the site of Calès. Several options are available to visit the site of ancient cave dwellings. Go right to the southern entrance where a stone staircase leads to the right on a plaza with a statue of the Virgin which overlooks the site.

(9) Go back down and continue visiting the caves. Cross the vast esplanade, pass next to a small forum and then continue a path towards the north by crossing a wall, leading down a few steps and to the Roman chapel of Saint-Denis.

(10) Continue the path to the north, and pass by the paths on the right and left to find the parking area about 400 m further on.

Waypoints :
D/A : km 0 - alt. 136m
1 : km 2.57 - alt. 106m - Crossroads with the D72
2 : km 3.44 - alt. 105m - Straight ahead to the ruins
3 : km 4.39 - alt. 140m - Turn left towards the Castellas
4 : km 4.76 - alt. 177m - Le Castellas
5 : km 6.49 - alt. 146m - Arrive on the D72
6 : km 8.38 - alt. 301m - Point of view
7 : km 9.4 - alt. 247m - Crossroads, first tank
8 : km 10.48 - alt. 214m - Crossroads, third tank
9 : km 11.64 - alt. 182m - Statue of the Virgin Mary
10 : km 12.26 - alt. 146m - Chapelle Saint-Denis
D/A : km 12.62 - alt. 136m

Useful Information

Period: mid-season, winter (in summer, the trails are closed because of fires),
Equipment: Good shoes, water,
Water point: Lamanon.
Pick up a map of the caves of Calès site at the tourist office of Lamanon.

Visorando and this author cannot be held responsible in the case of accidents or problems occuring on this walk.

During the walk or to do/see around

A remarkable plane tree in Lamanon,
Old pigeon loft just before the Castellas de Roquemartine.

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The GPS track and description are the property of the author.