Sainte-Victoire Mountain, Priory of Sainte Victoire, Croix de ProvenceSainte-Victoire Mountain, Priory of Sainte Victoire, Croix de Provence

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  • Off the path Explo
    74 %
    Off the path Explo rate
    3.7 / 5
    This spot is quite off the path. Only known by locals. Well done Fritz!
  • Article Quality
    100 %
    Article Quality rate
    • Score
      5 / 5
      Very nice description and tips for a unique visit Fritz!
    • Score
      5 / 5
      Yes. And you added a google map!
    • Score
      5 / 5
      Yes, many!
    • Score
      5 / 5
    • Score
      5 / 5
  • Explo Popularity

Perched at 888m of height, at the top of the Sainte Victoire mountain, this priory was built in a mythical place. It can be the purpose of hike, very appreciated by Aix en Provence locals and tourists.

My experience, Explo description: 

The first spurs of hermitage go back up to the 5th century : at instigation of Saint-Cassien, an hermitage was built there, purpose of numerous pilgrims, including kings and crowned heads :

  • In the 13th century, passages of four girls of the Count of Provence, Beranger V. Among them, the most diligent was Beatrix, Queen of Naples and Sicily, sister-in-law of Saint-Louis IX.
  • In the 15th, Marguerite d’Anjou, Queen of England, wife of king Henri the 6th.

On the 17th century, the hermitage knew a big influx of pilgrims called the "Venturiers" (the Sainte Victoire mountain was called "Mont Venture" at that time). To face it, Jean Aubert, a priest of the Church St Sauveur in Aix en Provence decided to restore and to enlarge the initial hermitage and ordered to build the priory (1654-1664). At his death in 1692, the religious life of the priory knew a progressive decline. Only some hermits agreed afterwards to live there, in an occasional way, whereas pilgrimages continued.

Buildings were abandoned after the Revolution, and degraded little by little.

It is only in 1954 that an association created by Henri Imoucha, "Les amis de la Sainte Victoire" (the friends of Sainte Victoire), began the restoration of this magic place.

The priory includes the chapel and the former monastery, transformed into a shelter. The well was restored in 2008 to collect the rainwater.

Go to the breach to admire the fantastic sight !

Have a look at the staircase leading to a South oriented cave were the monks cultivated their vegetables.

10mn from there, go up to the Croix de Provence (Provence cross) : 946m. This impressive cross is visible of the whole Aix en Provence countryside. It was built in 1875. It is 8m high, and stands on a 10m high rock base.

Then, 5mn further to the East, go to the Garagaï : it is an impressive limestone cave opening on the Sainte Victoire Southern cliff...

My personal recommendations: 

During the summer time, some concerts are organized at the priory. For more information and schedules, please contact the Aix en Provence Tourism Office !

How getting there: 

4 different trails lead to the priory. See related articles.

From the easiest one to the most (very !) difficult one :

  • The Venturiers trail
  • The Imoucha trail
  • The Ref trail
  • The yellow trail
A tip to eat: 

You need to bring your own pic nic !

A tip to sleep: 

The priory shelter can host up to 20 persons. If you want to make fire in the chimney, please bring your own wood.

Useful information: 
Open hours: 

The shelter is open 24/24h.

Visit duration: 

2.00h to go up. 1.30h to go down.

Entry fees: 

Free !

Access security: 

Attention : access is restricted in summer for the prevention of the fires : from June 1st till September 15th. Information phone : 0811 20 13 13

Use good shoes because of the very rocky ground, and plan to take with you at least 1 litre of water per person, and even 2l in warm period.