Fontaine BarthelemyFontaine Barthelemy à Aubagne
©Fontaine Barthelemy à Aubagne |JP.Vallorani
In the Footsteps of Saint Mary Magdalene

from Marseille La Barasse to Gémenos

Stage 8

On the previous stage of your voyage you explored Marseille. Now you’ll be leaving the city and winding your way through the landscapes so dear to Marcel Pagnol, between the Garlaban and Sainte-Baume hills, redolent with the timeless charm of deepest Provence.

Stage profile

Length: 25 km
Uphill slope: 914 m – Downhill slope: 846 m
Length: 6¼ hrs on foot
Difficulty: fairly difficult

On your way: Landscapes and relief

Your day’s hike in Provence starts out (undoubtedly under sunny skies) from the Barasse quarter in Marseille. You’ll soon cross Candolle, La Millière then Vallon de Luinant. The route boasts magnificent panoramic views over the rocky massifs and Vallon de la Barasse, where Saint Mary Magdalene almost certainly walked centuries ago. Go past Chapelle Notre-Dame de Nazareth and admire the Mediterranean waters just nearby – on fine days you can see all the way to Cape Canaille from here. Head back onto the GR® de Pays 2013 Marseille Provence Métropole long-distance trail after Vallon des Escourtines. Cross Aubagne, take Chemin des Petits-Mellets and Chemin de Saint-Jean-de-Garguier, then it’s the final furlong to Gémenos where you’ll be spending the night.

Must-see sights: Keep your eyes peeled

Surrounded by hilly landscapes, Aubagne is redolent with the picturesque charm so beautifully depicted by the most famous Provencal author of them all: Marcel Pagnol. Take time to tour Aubagne, stroll its pretty lanes and soak up the local accent. Stop off at Eglise Saint-Sauveur, a fine example of the evolution of ecclesiastic art built around a 12th-century medieval chapel. Pause awhile to admire the 17th-century Virgin and Child sculpture and monumental church organ. The Chapelle des Pénitents Noirs, a symbol of the exponential development of religious orders in the 18th century, has now been fully restored with beautifully-carved local stone. To complete your spiritual tour, visit the Chapelle des Pénitents Blancs – a Baroque-style chapel that can only be admired from the outside -, before delving into the world of Pagnol and Provence at the Petit Monde de Pagnol (Little World of Pagnol) exhibition, housed inside Pagnol’s childhood home and the Village des Santons, showcasing traditional clay figurines.

Where to sleep?

There are several overnight options for your tour of Gémenos and its vicinity. The Prieuré Saint-Jean de Garguier welcomes you in a rejuvenating setting near the sea with a choice of individual rooms or a dormitory; just take your pick before dining, saying your prayers and settling down to rest… If you’re seeking a chic, serene atmosphere, opt for the Hôtel La Magdeleine and its exceptional restaurant. Equally charming and simple, the Hôtel Le Provence is perfect for resting and relaxing before tomorrow’s hike on one of France’s most beautiful spiritual routes.

Find out more

Practical info

  • Contact: Office de Tourisme Intercommunal du Pays d’Aubagne et de l’Étoile / 8 Cours Barthélemy – 13400 AUBAGNE / Tel. +33(0)4 42 03 49 98 / /

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Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. (John 19, 25)

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