The ridges of the Petites and Grandes Dentelles de Montmirail

A Lafare walk posted on 14/11/15 by slinky. Update : 11/09/17

A short loop to discover these two characteristic rock formations as well as Saint-Christophe's Chapel, which protects the site, taking a less conventional route.

Technical sheet
Calculated time Calculated time: 3h15[?]
Distance Distance : 7.35km
Vertical gain Vertical gain : 493m
Vertical drop Vertical drop : 487m
Highest point Highest point : 563m
Lowest point Lowest point : 219m
Difficult Difficulty : Difficult
Back to starting point Back to starting point : Yes
Walking Walking
Areas Areas : Monts de Vaucluse, Dentelles de Montmirail
Location Location : Lafare (84190)
Starting point Starting point : N 44.156503° / E 5.047276°


Make your way to the village of Lafare and then take the road to the left towards the Dentelles de Montmirail.
Park at the Saint-Christophe signpost on one of the spaces on the roadside on the left.

Yellow Waymarks
(D/A) From the Saint-Christophe signpost, with your back to Mont Ventoux, take the tarmacked road opposite you (northwest) towards Col du Cayron. Walk downhill, cross Cassan and continue until you reach the crossing where the tarmac ends.
Leave the paths off to the right and continue left on the path uphill. During the climb, ignore any paths off to the left or right: many of them are just access tracks for reaching the vineyards. Keep going until you reach Col du Cayron pass and the car park.
Ignore the path down to the right towards Gigondas and continue for a few more metres along the car park.

Blue dot waymarks
(1) Take the path to the left, just after the signpost. Despite a blue cross, a sign indicates the way to the Dentelles following the blue waymarks. The path climbs up quite steeply through the forest and then reaches a crossing just before the foot of the cliffs.

Turn left towards the rock face, and then walk alongside the cliffs for a few metres. Ignore a steep passage marked with a blue cross and keep going until you reach another passage up the rocks a few metres further on.
Turn right, go up this rocky section, which isn't too difficult, and then you will reach a kind of small mountain pass in the middle of the Dentelles ridges.

(2) Turn right and follow the waymarks along the south face of the cliffs. From time to time you will need to use your hands or a tree branch to help you past small obstacles. Ignore all the paths down to the left and keep following the footpath. After about 600m, the path goes sharply down and joins a track at Col d'Alsau.

(3) Turn left onto the track and then turn left again 50m further on. Continue straight on opposite you, taking the log steps. The path bears left and then continues along the hillside.
At a fork in the forest, continue on the right-hand path which carries on along the flat. When you reach an open area where the Dentelles are in line with Mont Ventoux, take the footpath that goes downhill slightly to the left and ends at a new crossing about 50m further on.

(4) Turn left onto the path that takes you uphill again, and continue closely around the rocky outcrop, leaving the blue waymarks which now lead down to the right. The path will continue on the left of the rock face, gradually bearing away from it until you reach a crossing.

No waymarks, a few cairns
(5) Ignore the path that goes downhill to the left at a right-angle and instead take the right-hand path, which is less visible, and which continues along on the flat. The vegetation is very dense in places and the path disappears at times. When the path bears right at the start of the climb, it becomes more visible but also becomes very steep, to the point that you will need to use tree branches to help you up the path.
When you reach the foot of the cliff, climb up the rock face using your hands to help you until you reach the pass.
Make your way back down the south slope over the rock face using the technique that works best for you.
Keep going down a few metres until you reach a path.

Blue dot waymarks
(6) Turn left onto the path along the south face of the cliff. At times you will need to use your hands to help you past small obstacles. The path then goes sharply down over some stony terrain where you will need to be careful not to slip.
When you reach the top of a small vineyard, turn left onto a path down through the boxwood until you reach the road at the car park for the waterfall.
Take the road to the left for a few metres until you reach the bend (there are some parking spaces here), and then continue along the path to the left which reaches a fork a few metres further on.

(7) At the fork, make a return journey down the path to the left, still following blue waymarks, to climb up the left bank of the stream and see the waterfall from closer by (it is possible to cross the stream and carry on a bit by crossing over some rocks).

Come back to the fork just before the road (7) and turn left to climb back up. After a short but steep section where you will need to use your hands again, the footpath takes you over towards the road and then bears left.
One last effort and then the path comes out onto the road. Cross the road and take the wider path opposite you, which climbs up to the chapel. Ignore all the paths off to the left and keep going until you reach Saint-Christophe's Chapel (8).

Come back down to the road along the same path and then turn right to get back to your car (D/A).

Waypoints :
D/A : km 0 - alt. km 0
1 : km 2.25 - alt. km 2.25 - Left after the signpost
2 : km 2.8 - alt. km 2.8 - Right along the cliffs
3 : km 3.63 - alt. km 3.63 - Left onto the track
4 : km 4.54 - alt. km 4.54 - Turn left onto the footpath
5 : km 5.21 - alt. km 5.21 - Take the right-hand path that is not well marked
6 : km 5.46 - alt. km 5.46 - Turn left along the cliffs
7 : km 6.66 - alt. km 6.66 - Fork just after the carpark
8 : km 7.04 - alt. km 7.04 - Chapelle Saint-Christophe
D/A : km 7.35 - alt. km 7.35

Useful Information

N.B. This walk is only for experienced hikers; the climbs are short but intense and you will need to use your hands in many places. The descents are often steep and take you over stony or slippery terrain.

Good shoes are essential.

We advise taking IGN maps with you on this walk. Click here to buy : 3040ET.

Click here to see how to reach the starting point.

Hikideas and this author cannot be held responsible in the case of accidents or problems occuring on this walk.

Download sheet and map

During the walk or to do/see around

Saint-Christophe's chapel stands alone among the pine trees on the southern flank of the Dentelles de Montmirail, to the north of the village of Lafare.
This Romanesque chapel was built in the twelfth century, and its revenues were collected by the abbey of Saint-André de Villeneuve-lès-Avignon.

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