We are constantly surprised by the beauty surrounding Montpellier. When most people think of the South of France, they think of maybe beaches, cities, yachts, that kind of thing. But the best thing about France isn’t its beaches, or its cities, as great as many of those cities might be. It’s the mixture of immensely beautiful nature and old villages which are scattered between the beautiful nature.
Just north of Montpellier is the Languedoc-Roussillon’s most popular wine-growing region, which centres around Pic St Loup, Montpellier’s “local mountain.” This is one of our favourite areas near where we live and one of the loveliest places to go walking and get lost.
One sunny weekend we decided to rent a car, drive ourselves over to the village of Cazevielle, from where we heard you could walk up to the top of Pic St Loup – the big pointy one.
Once parked in Cazevielle we looked around for signs. There were none. Luckily there was a couple who looked like they knew what they were doing so we followed them and began the pleasant walk up.
Everything was going well until we discovered that it was becoming a bit harder than expected. But we kept going and soon found that we’d become that couple that looked like they knew what we were doing, and we were being followed. It was only when we stopped and started looking up at the kind of rockface that would probably require more equipment than… well, any equipment really that we questioned whether we’d missed something.
So we turned back and took a different turn. Those following us didn’t follow us again. We’d deceived them once already, albeit accidentally. This route, which also seemed exceedingly difficult, did eventually get us to the top. I couldn’t help thinking as I was clambering up and grabbing onto trees, that there must be another way. Nobody on tripadvisor mentioned that this was hard.
At least I was better dressed for climbing a mountain than last time.
At the top though I was grateful that we’d decided to keep climbing (and hope the poor couple that had originally followed us found another route up too) because the view up there is absolutely worth every graze and bramble in the hair.
At the top is a steep drop, a chapel, a giant cross, and a little shop, which was in fact just two people playing cards with an ice box full of coke.
After several moments enjoying the view, staring at the plaque dedicated to the guy who died climbing it and trying to identify different points on the map at the top, we decided to head down.
Following a couple of others down we found the route down surprisingly easy and it was only when we got back to the point where we’d started dragging ourselves up rocks that we found that we’d decided, accidentally to take the hardest walking route. Further down we found a family sitting there with an exasperated child asking in French, how much further. The woman, who must have heard us speaking in English asked us, in English, how far it was. We said about half an hour to 45 minutes. She turned around and told her son, in French, ten minutes more. Oh the joys of bilingual lying.
Down at the bottom the area around Pic St Loup is made up of wineries and plenty of tiny villages, many of them medieval with amazing old buildings, some of them more active than others. We were still at that point where we assumed there’d be a restaurant in every village but after a couple of stops in sleepy (read: actually sleeping) villages we found that there was nothing, not a smidgen of life, except cats.
Jono’s post on hiking pic st loup
Coming next: The wine tour of Pic St Loup