Provence, Southern France
Provence Lime Stone Alps / Southern France
Via Ferrata Day Trips and Week-Long Itineraries
Buis – Gorge Du Verdon – Les Calanques
Provence Via Ferrata & Scrambles Highlights
- State of the Art Via Ferratas – Well Equipped
- Fun Rope Bridges and Zip Lines
- Sunshine all year
- French cuisine and wines
- Short approaches on good trails
- Provence…Need we say more?
- Les Calanques: Europes most dramatic Coast Line
The Provence does not require much introduction. Part of the “French Limestone Alps” the Provence is blessed with a rugged landscape and a pleasant climate, that lends itself ideally for spring or fall trips, when the air is crisp and the tourists are gone.
While the Provence has always been famous for the hiking, it has also developed into an Eldorado for via ferrata, most of which have relatively short approaches, are well equipped and designed for optimal excitement while also offering easy ways out for the “easily intimidated party members”
From our medieval base town Buis les Baronnies in the Drome Provencale, just north of the famous Mt. Ventoux we will venture into different areas to sample the best hikes, scrambles and via ferratas that the Provence has to offer. One of the highlights will be a traverse of “Les Calanques” close to the old port town of Cassis at the Cote D’Azur. Beautiful trails that are cut into the sheer rock faces above the blue Mediterranean sea make this one of the 3 “must do” treks in France! In our opinion one of the most beautiful coast line treks to be done in Europe – for those who can handle a bit of exposure and drop offs.
Finally, our weekly itinerary will also take us to the “Hautes Alpes Provencale”, where an “equipped trail” will take us through the spectacular “ Grand Canyon du Verdon” to provide another contrast of our exploration of the Provence!
1) Via Ferrata Rocher St. Julien, Buis Les Baronnies
Just about our base town of Buis Les Baronnies, the latest addition to the Via Ferratas of the Provence. 4 sections that can be travelled independently or in sequence, in which case it takes about 6 hours to the highest point of this amazing lime stone crest. Included are countless rope bridges and one zip line with a starting platform hanging above a vertical wall…..all within walking distance from Buis les Baronnies, a classic “provencale” town with excellent hotels, restaurants, markets and friendly people!
2) Vie Ferrata La Grande Fistoire
About 20 minutes north of the town of Sisteron and one of our all-time favorites with some excellent exposure, an exciting hanging bridge and for those who didn’t get enough after the ascending the Grande Fistoire summit, there is an optional exit via an overhanging wall that will for sure get your forearms pumped. The high point is the descent with it’s three zip lines that span up to 250 meters! Most of the route is south facing it gets warm in the summer months. There is a small entrance fee to be paid at the Tourism Office, conveniently located at the base of the via ferrata hwere you park your car. Rated Difficult plus, 250 meters vertical travel, 930 meters horizontal, takes usually 4 – 5 hours rounds trip when all sections are being travelled.
3)Via Ferrata du Pas De L’Echelle
Close to the town of La Motte Chaloncon, about 1 hr drive North and East of Buis les Baronnies. Since a rock fall a few years ago, only the first part of the via ferrata is accessible, which makes for a fun 1-2 hrs trip that starts with an exciting zip line to the base of a little canyon, from where we can also exit the alternate start to do the zip line again. Overall the ferrata is not too difficult when accessed by the zip line and it largely traverses along a rock cliff proving good exposure. The round trip takes about 2.5 hrs, southern aspect. The day is best combined with swimming in a near-by lake or a great hike to a nearby peak, from where one can watch the enormous resident vultures sail by at eye-to-eye level.
4) Via Ferrata du Claps
Located in the Drome Valley east of the town of Die this via ferrata overlooks a maze of huge boulders that were the result of an ancient land slide and which created a really neat landscape with plenty of swimmable pools along the Drome River. The via ferrata largely traverses along a northern aspect rock cliff with a vertical rise of 200 meters. The crux is found right at the start, one bail out option half-way and the entire round trip usually takes 2 hrs, rated “difficult”. This trip is best combined with some rock climbing, swimming or with the previously described via ferrata Pas De L’Echelle.
5) Via Ferrata du Rocher A La Neuf Heures
Located directly above the traditional spa town of Digne les Bains, this via ferrata does an ascending traverse of an impressive rock cliff to end up on a little summit, which offers great views into the surrounding hill country. Some interesting rope bridges and balance beams – rated “difficult”. Round trip including the 30 minute approach walk from the town center takes usually about 4 hrs.
6) Other Scrambles / Equipped Trails
There are countless other scrambles and trails with cable protection in the hill country of the Provence which are not qualified as a via ferrata but do provide exciting scrambles and hikes through some amazing landscape. Examples are the Sentier De L’Imbut through Europe’s deepest canyon, the “Gorge Du Verdon”, an ascent of the highest point of the “Chaine de Gigondas” in the “Dentelles de Montmirails” and of course various trails and scrambles in the coastal range of “Les Calanques” at the Mediterranean Sea.
Via Ferrata and Scrambles in the Provence / France – 5 Day Itinerary (7 days with travel days)
Pick up in Avignon (TGV station) or Marseille International Airport and drive to Buis les Baronnies. Should there be additional time today, Avignon and Vaison la Romaine have tons to see. Lodging in our three star historic hotel in the walled, medieval center of Buis les Baronnies / Drome Provencale.
Via Ferrata Rocher St. Julien is only a 5 min drive above Buis and you could even walk to the start from our hotel. Newly established in 2014, the via ferrata traverses a system of little spires in the north face of the entire ridge to end up on the summit. The via ferrata is divided into three sections of increasing difficulty. Each section can be done independently and the entire trip usually takes about 6 hrs. There is also an warm-up via ferrata, which takes about one hour.
Rock climbing and scrambling in the “Dentelles de Montmirails”, two rocky crests rising above the famous growing areas of Gigondas and Chateau Neuf du Pape. There is a large selection of rock climbs of all grades from 1 to 4 pitches. We usually finish the day with a scramble to the highest point of the “Chaine du Gigondas”, a fun route that features remnants of medieval structures from when it was used as a lookout. Afterwards, it is a “must” to visit the village of Gigondas and try some of the famous reds of the region!
Probably our favorite via ferrata in southern France: La Grande Fistoire. Very exposed route with several options to increase the challenge level. A definite “must” are the three zip lines on the descent, which span over 250 meters in length. A scenic 2 hrs drive from Buis and hence this day lends itself very well to transfer to the Haute Provence (High Provence or to the Cote D’Azur) with lodging in the quaint mountain town of Moustier St. Marie in the Gorge du Verdon Regional Parc.
Sentier de l’lmbut through the spectacular “Grand Canyon du Verdon” – Europes deepest Canyon. A trail right above the gushing waters of the Verdon with passages that feature some cables and chains for hand railing. Return by the Sentier Vidal. The entire walk takes about 6 hrs.
Two hours drive to Cassis at the Cote D’Azur for lodging in our little hotel right at the old harbor in the old part of town. For the remainder of the day, we suggest to check out the many shops in town, a winery tour in one of the prettiest vineries in southern France (walking distance from the hotel) or just to go for a swim in the Mediterranean sea.
Traverse of the Calanques from the Calanque Morgioux to Cassis on the lower trail featuring some exposed sections with scrambling.
The contrast of the blue sea and the rugged lime stone cliffs along the coastline is stunning. Some of the trails are cut into the rocks and require a bit of scrambling or hand-railing along cables but via ferrata gear is not usually used. Every once in a while narrow bays (i.e. “Calanque”) with little pebble beaches invite for a swim.
Expect a long day with about 6-8 hrs of hiking, some easy scrambling (at times with chains and cables to hand rail) and a fair bit of shorter up and down sections and several opportunities for a swim.
Departure after breakfast. The drive to Avignon takes about 1.5 hrs from Cassis. Alternatively, Marseille’s International Airport is reached within an hour depending on day time and the resulting traffic.
Detail and Logistics
Transport/Pick ups can be provided from Marseillie airport or Avignon train station the day before your hiking begins
Climate, Weather, Temperatures
Best season for hiking and doing via ferrata in Southern France is either spring or fall, which offer mostly sunny weather with moderate temperatures. The summer month are usually too hot, unless you pick early starts!
Services Included in the total price of our 7 day scheduled trip package
Guiding by an internationally certified (UIAGM / IFMGA), multi-lingual mountain guide, all guide expenses, lodging in double rooms with breakfast in good B&Bs or hotels at the 3 star or two star plus level, equipment use (harness, via ferrata clip-in set, helmet, trolleys for zip lines), all guide expenses (lodging, food, transport), land transport in a 9 seater of mini van (depending on group size), all trip organisation.
Air Fares, Dinners, Lunch, Drinks, Gratuities
Provence Via Ferrata & Scrambles
- All Levels!
- Beginner to Expert
- Ideal for Families
Provence Via Ferrata & Scrambles
Custom Trips Any Duration and any Time
April – November
Group departure: 19th – 26th September
Scheduled 7 day trips
departing every Sunday
from April 5 – December 6
Provence Via Ferrata & Scrambles
Guide & guide expenses, 6 x hotel, 6 x dinners, 6 x breakfast, via ferrata equipment rental, all transfers with pick up and drop off in Avignon.
Extra: airport shuttles from Marseille, drinks, lunches
US $286, CA $345
€ 230, £ 206
High season surcharge
US $208, CA $250
€ 167, £ 150