The Saracen Caves at the ruins of the old village of Béconne provide a short walk through the woods and fields of lavender and lead you on an enjoyable route among the vestiges of the past and let you indulge your imagination.
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.
The start of the hike is about 4 km after Roche St Secret towards Dieulefit. Park in the picnic area at the car park, left just after the bridge, at the intersection of the small road named "Col de la Ruche".
(S) From the car park, you have to cross the D538 and the bridge to take the trail to the left, to the right of the Ravine de Maravant. Follow this until the crossroads located on the ridge (1).
Continue on the left to the Col de Bonnardel (2).
Those who wish to access the tip of the rock of Charousse, continue the track to the end and then take the trail that extends it. The markings are clear as far as the section in the rocks where the route veers to the right towards the south-east, then the markings become more sparse as it continues up the path through woods to reach the ridge and the summit of the rock (3).
To reach the Saracen Caves, return to Col de Bonnardel (2) by the same road, then head along it to the south and 20 or so metres on at a wire fence find a section that will allow you to cross it.
Then you have to go to the foot of the cliff, fifty metres to the right of the peak at the summit of La Charousse, through bushes and a grove of oaks heading north-east. Cross the fence at the foot of the rock (there is a section leads through it) and follow the path through the foot of the cliff until it turns left and climbs up an area above which are the caves. The largest opening (4) is located above the wire fence at the end of the bench. At the bottom of this there is a gallery that provides access to an ancient water reserve.
To reach the ruins of Béconne, return to the crossroads (1), By Col de Bonnardel (2), and take the left path. At the bottom of the descent go to the right, pass the "Tortel" house and after it turn left to head onto the GR9 (5).
Take it to right as it runs along the fields at the top and at the end heads right to reach the peak (6). Continue on the left path to the ruins of Béconne.
To reach the car park, head back to the fork (6) and continue on the path down the left side. After a right turn it continues to gently slope to the bridge of the Maravant ravine.
D/A : km 0 - alt. km 0
1 : km 0.87 - alt. km 0.87 - Crossroads of the paths
2 : km 1.35 - alt. km 1.35 - Col de Bonnardel
3 : km 1.91 - alt. km 1.91 - Cime de Charousse
4 : km 2.89 - alt. km 2.89 - Saracen caves
5 : km 4.58 - alt. km 4.58 - GR9
6 : km 5.08 - alt. km 5.08 - Crossroads towards the ruins of Béconne
7 : km 5.69 - alt. km 5.69 - Ruins of Béconne
D/A : km 6.94 - alt. km 6.94
The hike is classified as average as the climb up Col Bonnardel to the peak of the rock of Charousse is pretty steep. Time there and back again - about an hour.
We advise taking IGN maps with you on this walk. Click here to buy : 3138OT.
Hikideas and this author cannot be held responsible in the case of accidents or problems occuring on this walk.
Hikers take care!
The route uses private roads. Thank you in advance for respecting the area and its owners.
The caves are a fascinating site of the medieval era where people lived permanently.
A place to retreat and find some peace of mind, there are now only a few rooms that are large enough for some, a sloping gallery which leads onto a terrace and a masonry tank.
The ruins of the village of Béconne date back to the 13th century.
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