Part 1: The observatory on the Mont Chiran
the corresponding calibration file for OziExplorer, the track file for your GPS or the waypoint
file for the GPS
The above map of the IGN isn't absolutely accurate.
On tarmac precision is very good as you see on the track points. But once tarmac ends precision
vanishes. Maybe it's for the trees covering my GPS reception but I doubt so. Anyway, you can't make
Click here for downloading the waypoints.
road you must find turns off the main touristic road D952 (Moustiers
St. Anne- Castellane, north of the Canyon) at the Belvedere du Point Sublime. This is a viewpoint
with excellent sight on the Canyon du Verdon. It's normally very crowded and you may not notice
the small tarmac road going off to Rougnon. If you miss it you will soon reach the first short tunnel
with the turnoff down to the Couloir Samson.
Although this is not the
object of this report I can only suggest you take an hour and walk through the first stretch. This
walking trail has a series of loooong, dark tunnels helping you through the most impassable parts
of the canyon. Bring your tochlamp. It CAN be done without a lamp as the ground is almost flat but
it's quite an frightening experience. The longest tunnel is almost a kilometre long and has 2 sharp
bends so you can't see the opposite end. I did it with an almost flat maglite and my black german
shepherd who run in front of us and scared the shit out of other people.
Ha. This teaches them to stagger through dark tunnels without some light.
You should in any case bring some food and, most important, water. The Verdon is always near
but the path runs often high on the sideslopes and climbing down the incline isn't easy. Most people
turn around after the last tunnels when you have to climb over an terrible slippery rock, only helped
by a loose rope.
But back to our business.
So you did turn left at the Belvedere mentioned earlier.
Continue uphill until you meet this turnoff at point 051 (picture).
Turn off onto the small road to Les Subits and Les Chauvets.
At point 052 N43°49,0794 and S:6°20,8752 stay on
the main road (right). At point 053 N43°49,091 and S6°20,663 go straight on the main
road. At point 054 N43°50,425 S6°19,347 you come to a small chapel sitting to your right
at Les Louches. Soon after this the tarmac ends (picture left).
Stay on the main track to the left. The sign informs you
about the lack of tarmac and possible obstructions. However this road is passable even with 4x2's
with some care.
||Driving uphill leads you to the Col des Abbesses at point
055, N43°51,203 S6°17,838 (picture left). This marks also the beginning of the forested
section run by the ONF where access off track is limited.
At N43°51,800 S 6°17,375 is a wide turnoff.
Turn right onto the large track.
Go on through the forest on the main track.
At point 056 N43°52,425 S6°17,823 comes an unmarked
track from the right. Turn sharply into this one and continue uphill. You are now on an old strategic
road that leads to the observatory.
Continuing uphill brings you to this place (picture
left at N43°52,164 S6°18,099). The road may be closed if you didn't arrange for an open
gate. Refere to page one of this report for the procedure.
A word of warning: As it's an observatory I doubt that arrival
after dark will be welcomed as the lights from the cars may ruin some hours of work. So act accordingly.
After the gate the track gets smaller and after a saddle
a series of hairpins leads you up the mountain flank. Most can be handled in one turn by a 90
but a 130 has a harder time. Look at the large picture below which shows an 130 of the ONF on
the way down at about half the descent. Watch out for crumbly ledges.
views will be more and more impressive until you reach the summit with the observatory. The picture
left was taken just below the access gate to the observatory and you can see how far the landscape
stretches below. This is also a place you often find observers from the ONF looking for forest fires.
Picture left and above: Point 057, N43°52,041 S6°18,980,
elevation 1879m. This is the highest point you can reach without opening the gate.
Still not enough? Click here
to continue on another track.