Stage 8, step by step: Marseille la Barasse to Gémenos, Jas de la Lèbre

The previous stage ended your discovery of Marseille. You will now leave the Phocaean city and go through the landscapes described by Marcel Pagnol, from the Garlaban to the Sainte-Baume. All the charm of Provence.

25 km – Length: 6¼ h
Ascent 914m – Descent 846 m
Level: Moderately strenuous

1.       Follow the path to the Vallon de la Barasse on the right. Go through the DFCI CQ 220 barrier on the left to continue on the flat on the little road. Go past the Stand de Tir STAB, continue along the forestry path to the intersection with the trail (CQ 05 signpost).

2.       Go up to the left following signs to La Candolle, La Millière and La Penne-sur-Huveaune and arrive 500 m after the intersection of the Vallon de Luinant (CQ 06 signpost).

3.       Go up the path to the left and make a large turn to go across a steep area. The walk is sometimes steep, sometimes on a ledge and it takes you through rocky outcrops to a little plateau (alt. 340 m). Go down to the Vallon des Escourtines very carefully on a stony and sometimes rocky path. Continue to the left in the little valley on a trail which winds through the vegetation for 900 m.

4.       At the CQ 03 signpost, leave the Sentier des Escourtines and go right. This path rises steeply in a rocky area, overhangs a circus, goes through scree and after a rocky outcrop, arrives on a plateau. After you come to a path coming from La Penne-sur-Huveaune, continue uphill towards the summit and follow a panoramic trail on a ledge. After a rocky passage, you’ll arrive at La Candolle (404 m).

5.       Take the path opposite, which makes a wide loop before going slightly downhill for 200 m. Get a view of the Camp de Carpiagne, Mont Puget and Cap Canaille. Leave the trail and follow a path which goes up to the left to the ridges, passes the Sommet du Télégraphe (see a ruined tower). Go down by the ridges to get to Chemin de Cassis (alt. 198 m).

6.       At the SB 59 signpost, turn right, go past cistern 197, and 130 m further on, take a path on the left which makes a big turn before going down, sometimes sharply, to the bottom of the little valley. Follow it left to the little Route de Carpiagne. Go under the railway bridge and continue along this little road, go under another bridge, past the military building before you arrive at SB 57 signpost, (50 m before the “50 km/h” speed limit sign).

7.       Where the paths meet, leave the road and go right, under the railway and up into the wood to the upper trail. Cross it and take the path opposite just above. Follow it for 350 m and cross the trail again, taking the Sentier de Découverte on the left which goes down to Parc de la Coueste. After the SB 54 signpost and a reservoir, go through a barrier and continue on the little road and then on Chemin des Espillières.

8.       At the intersection go straight on along Allée de la Fourmi. In a bend, go up to the left by the steps in Traverse de la Cigale which enable you to span the motorway. Turn left into Chemin des Espillières, which goes down quite steeply. At the crossroads with Avenue du 19 Mars 1962, go straight on along Chemin des Espillières. At the crossroads, go straight on along Boulevard Gambetta, then left on Rue Jeu de Ballon. At the Lycée Sainte-Marie, take Rue Lucienne Tourrel on the left, then second right, Rue Jardinière. Get a glimpse of the pink stone triangular bell tower. Go straight across Place Joseph Rau then on Rue de la Liberté which comes out opposite the Mairie on Boulevard Jean Jaurès. Turn right up it and then take first left, the narrow Rue Martinot, which becomes Rue Rastègue and comes out on Cours Barthélémy. After No 16, the house where Marcel Pagnol was born, go across the square in front of the Pharmacie and turn right on to the Promenade Pédestre du Bras d’Or. When you reach the end, go across the square and straight on to the Pôle d’Echange. Go to the railway station (gare ferroviaire).

9.       Opposite the station take Avenue Jeanne-d’Arc on the right. Turn left, cross two squares. Go down the steps to the left of Porte du Millénaire and take the footpath and the Huveaune River. Before the bridge, come out by the steps on the left, go down to the roundabout and follow signs to Beaudinard. Cross the bridge over the railway tracks and go right straight away on to D 43a, then left on D 43b for 2 km, across the agricultural plain of Aubagne. After a riding school (centre équestre), veer right, go over the motorway bridge and turn right on D 43c for “Pont de l’Etoile” – 400 m.

10.   At No 1221, veer right onto Chemin des Petits-Mellets. A little after the Les Mellets bus stop, the road does an S, after No 610, turn right. Go past a reservoir and at the crossroads at No 1061, turn left onto D 43d, Chemin de St Jean de Garguier. After No 1560, at the crossroads, cross the road, carefully and continue following signs to St Clair.

11.   After the priory (prieuré) go up Chemin de Saint-Jean to the right and, at the roundabout, go right and through a housing estate. Go straight down the little road, leave Chemin de la Eaumone on your left. After a vineyard, the road widens. At No 2, leave Allée des Micocouliers on your left and go straight on down. Go past the Groupe Scolaire La Culasse and before the roundabout, go up left onto Chemin de Saint-Jean, then straight on.

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