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Le Garlaban

Mountain in Aubagne

  • Located in the southeastern quarter of the Bouches-du-Rhône, the Massif de l’Etoile and Massif du Garlaban encircle a major part of the territories of Marseille and Aubagne, situated to the South. These chains are bordered by the Arbois, Montaiguet, Collines de Gardanne and Regagnas chains to the North, by the Valley of Aubagne to the East and the A7 highway to the West, which forms a barrier between the massif and the Côte Bleue coast.

    The two massifs are separated by the D908 main...
    Located in the southeastern quarter of the Bouches-du-Rhône, the Massif de l’Etoile and Massif du Garlaban encircle a major part of the territories of Marseille and Aubagne, situated to the South. These chains are bordered by the Arbois, Montaiguet, Collines de Gardanne and Regagnas chains to the North, by the Valley of Aubagne to the East and the A7 highway to the West, which forms a barrier between the massif and the Côte Bleue coast.

    The two massifs are separated by the D908 main road.

    The relief and general East-West orientation of the Etoile-Garlaban chain provoke a strong masking effect, with striking contrasts between the adret (South-facing) and ubac (North-facing) slopes.

    The southern slopes of the Etoile and Garlaban are characterized by a typical Mediterranean climate.

    The northern slopes are characterized by a cooler and wetter micro-climate, with lower temperatures, higher rainfall and shorter summer droughts. The prevailing wind is the Mistral, which blows from the north-northwest.

    The aerological phenomena created by the numerous valleys crossing the southern slopes are complex. The prevailing winds are northwesterly on the peaks, and southwesterly to southeasterly blowing from the bottom of the valleys upwards, with a general acceleration on the slope due to its steep incline. …

    The Massif du Garlaban offers the same contrasts, with the presence of evergreen oak woods and durmast oaks to the North, and sparse Aleppo pine populations to the South. Forestation is very low (7.5 %, i.e. 1,370 acres) further to repeated fires in the massif. The predominant formation is garrigue (kermes oaks, spiny Brachypoda, Cistus, Aphyllante of Montpellier and gorse). The arborescent stratum essentially comprises Aleppo pines (75% or more) these populations represent just 865 acres, located in a discontinuous fashion to the northwest of the massif and on the piedmont.

    The Massif de l'Etoile and Massif du Garlaban comprise a natural barrier between Marseille, Aix, Gardanne and Aubagne, and largely influence the urban dynamics of the surrounding towns. Their peri-urban location means they are the target of extensive development projects moreover, the absence of a transition zone between the highly urbanized and natural areas is extremely apparent.

    In their role as a peri-urban massif and genuine green lung of Marseille, Aubagne and their neighbouring towns, the Massif de l’Etoile and Massif du Garlaban play a significant social role, with an estimated frequentation of 250,000 visitors per year, most of which are locals due to their somewhat "confidential" access routes. …

    The Massif du Garlaban is an emblem and symbol of "authentic" Provence, brought to international fame by the films of Marcel Pagnol. The Garlaban attracts many visitors and has now been fitted with numerous footpaths. Moreover, the site is home to over a hundred rare or protected species, many of which are protected by international laws, such as the Bonelli's eagle, eagle owl and short-toed eagle.

    These two massifs form part of the Etoile-Garlaban Natura 2000 site. The Massif du Garlaban is also a coveted hunting site.
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