Fontainebleau forest is one of the most beautiful French forests thanks to its varied landscapes and, in particular, its sandstone blocks. This hike circles the Apremont gorges along the Colinet-Denecourt path N°6 and lets you enjoy it in all its beauty and fragility, the latter due both to natural erosion and human use, and is near the Paris region.
Calculated time is computed with the distance, the height difference, and an average speed of 2.2 mph. For an intermediate walker, this time includes small breaks.
From the Platières d’Apremont car park, take the eroded path (yellow markings) and go directly to the point of view over the Gorges.
Then head off to the right and continue to follow the yellow markings to find the wooden staircase that takes you to the bottom of the gorge in the "desert". Why is this term used for a place that really doesn’t resemble one? This is because at the beginning of the 19th century there were no trees only heather and rocks and pines were planted.
At the bottom, the erosion trail borders a small sandy area. Leaving the path here, head left toward a bench located near a crossroads.
(1) Opposite, the path down the “ridges" of Apremont leads through a valley stripped of trees by which you will arrive at the end of the hike. Turn right on Route du Cul de Chaudron d’Apremont over a distance of about 400 metres to the junction with Denecourt-Colinet trail N°6 (blue markings). Turn right to head up to the Carrefour du Désert. At the junction with Route Chaos d’Apremont (2) is the rock called “Le Cerbère du Désert” (letter N).
Continue south-east (still following the Blue markings). At the Carrefour du Désert, leave the marked path N°6 to take you to Route de Clair Milan ahead which rises slowly through a beautiful valley.
400 metres later we again come upon and take path N°6 to the left. Steep climb in which we pass beside a small gap then onto a flat rock and the Mare aux Sangliers. Here, I would invite you to turn due west following a "wild" path for 80 metres through the heather and gorse as far as the gap and underground gallery of Clair Bois next to which there is a beautiful view over the Apremont Gorges (3). I do not know why this place is so poorly marked...
Retrace your steps to resume the path N°6. Follow to the left for about 200 metres until you cross Route du Chaos d’Apremont (4). Abandon path N°6 that continues along the border of the rise and turn left onto the Route du Chaos d’Apremont that leads into a beautiful valley full of rocks. At the bottom, go right the way up to the “Cerbère du désert” to join path N°6 (2).
Turn right and follow this path in the opposite direction from that which had been followed at the beginning of the hike. Cross Route du Cul de Chaudron d’Apremont, taken on the outbound leg. Then take the erosion trail before returning to a new rise by the “Val des Mohicans”. At an intersection at the foot of a huge rocky outcrop (to the right, the Roches de Rude by which you will return), continue straight on the road for 2 markers (Yellow and Blue).
A beautiful course that winds among the rocks at the summit of the rock. This is the section dubbed the "peaks of the Apremont ridges" which is the most difficult part of the route, to the intersection with the road to the Apremont Gorges (5). Know that at the end of the trail, you will follow this same stretch.... After the junction, trail No.6 becomes less demanding, eventually leaving the the eroded path (6) (which itself cuts to the left into the car park where the hike started, with the option to cut the route short if you run out of time). Head gently down to the right to the west in the direction of the Sully forest road (closed to traffic).
Cross the road close to a remarkable oak, the Sully Oak (7). There are at least two others nearby (a walk on the Sully road to the crossroads of the Apremont Gorges). Continue on path N°6 which rises up to the André Billy crossroads joining up with the GR1. From there, it branches off to the right and follows the northern slope of the edge of the rock. We arrive at a new point of view from which we can make out on the right the start of the of Apremont “mountain chain” and, at the base, that of the Cuvier Châtillon.
Then continue hiking on a beautiful section of road passing under the pines beside the poetically named point of interest “Lavabo du Chasseur Noir” (letter K), which is a kind of watering hole in a rock hollow, the Apremont Turtle (letter J) on the right in a detour of the path and the Three Mausoleums (letter I). Soon after, the GR1 suddenly veers right to down the slope: continue straight, still on path N°6, which continues to wind along the rise passing near the Mousseron d’Apremont (N°6) and the Barbizonnières Cave (N°3). Arriving at the edge of the rise down along huge rocks (the so-called “sentier des Alpinistes”) before entering a peaceful valley that leads to a forest dotted with many boulders including the famous “Apremont Elephant" (8).
Follow the path north, crossing a trail to reach the path marking limits of the village of Barbizon. Turn right to reach the entrance of Barbizon (9), i.e. the end of the big touristy street. For those who have time, do not hesitate to check it out. Otherwise, turn right and follow the road (Allée des Vaches) to the intersection of Bas Bréau where refreshments can be bought at the cabin in Brigands’ Cave. Here you can get something to eat or drink. Behind the chalet-restaurant-refreshment area, the trail N°6 squeezes between the rocks to climb the rise. Do not forget to pay your respects to Dame d’Apremont in passing (10)!
The climb is long and is made via a staircase built there both as a path and in order to prevent further erosion. Arrive on the rise, new point of view and then further on reach the Brigands’ Cave (11) .. For the record, it never served as a place for brigands because it is Denecourt that dug it out in the nineteenth century. The place is obviously very popular. The path continues at the edge of the rock to pass near the Mare aux Biches pond. A little further on is the spectacular series of Roches de Rude (12) mentioned at the beginning of the hike.
After crossing, we reach the path by which we had left the “Désert d’Apremont". Turn right and follow to the intersection with Route des Gorges d’Apremont (5). Then leave path N°6 and turn left to enjoy a beautiful descent bringing you to the "Desert" and, specifically, to the crossroads reached by following the eroded trail (1). From there, simply do the reverse of the outgoing path from the beginning of the hike back to the car park to the starting point.
Enjoy the hike!
D/A : km 0 - alt. 140m
1 : km 0.56 - alt. 99m
2 : km 0.94 - alt. 100m
3 : km 2.16 - alt. 128m
4 : km 2.45 - alt. 134m
5 : km 4.13 - alt. 124m
6 : km 4.4 - alt. 135m
7 : km 5.11 - alt. 104m
8 : km 7.15 - alt. 97m
9 : km 7.85 - alt. 92m
10 : km 8.95 - alt. 95m - Caverne des Brigands
11 : km 9.37 - alt. 124m
12 : km 10.35 - alt. 129m
D/A : km 11.69 - alt. 140m
By train from Paris:
Fontainebleau - Avon SNCF train served by trains from the R line (the Paris, Gare de Lyon network):
There is also a free "SNCF Transilien" application for smartphones with which you can access real-time train schedules as well as information on major incidents that affect traffic.
On foot or by bike from the station:
• on foot: 4.5 km from the Carrefour de la Libération accessible by bus from the station.
• by bike from the train station of Fontainebleau - Avon: 8 km through the town of Fontainebleau to Carrefour de la Libération then take the road in the direction of Arbonne for 1 km, and on the right take Route du Château (a forest road closed to traffic) until you cross Route Ronde. Then continue ahead to the car park in front, but be aware that cars are allowed to use this this stretch of road.
Caution, take extreme care, wearing a helmet is required.
An opportunity to grab something to eat at the chalet in Barbizon and in the Brigands’ Cave located at the crossroads of Bas Breau.
Good walking shoes are necessary because there are some rocky passages.
Hikideas and this author cannot be held responsible in the case of accidents or problems occuring on this walk.
Opportunity to visit the village of Barbizon: its high street, the studio of Jean François Millet, the Gannes hostel that houses the Museum of the Barbizon School.
And throughout the hike, admire the shapes of rocks. Do not miss the Barbizon elephant and the Lady of Apremont.
Date of walk : 09/05/16
Description quality : Good
Routemap quality : Good
Walk interest : Very good
The GPS track and description are the property of the author.