Montagne Ste-Victoire

Top choice in Pays d’Aix

East of Aix rises Cézanne’s favourite haunt, the magnificent silvery ridge of Montagne Ste-Victoire, its dry slopes carpeted in garrigue (scented scrub), bristling with pines, crossed by stone-walled paths and concealing sites such as the 17th-century Sainte-Victoire Priory. The burnt-orange soil supports Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence vineyards, and hiking, mountain-biking and other activities can be arranged through the Aix tourist centre. Many hike the 1011m-mountain's north side, but the south side, though steeper, is quite beautiful.

If you take the D17 along the south side, pick up info on hiking and biking at the Maison de Ste-Victoire in St-Antonin-sur-Bayon. The mountain is closed in July and August due to the threat of forest fire (though roads remain open). Driving the loop around Ste-Victoire is gorgeous, or catch bus 110 from La Rotonde in Aix to Payloubier/St-Antonin-sur-Bayon.