Saturday, May 25, 2013

Chateau de Montferrand and Pic St Loup à Pied

We've been on an adventurous kick. Hiking and biking and randonée-ing all over the place. The kids humor us. The Littlest sings, 'It's a long way to the top if you wanna rock and ro-oh-ohl.'

I make picnic lunches that sometimes include wine.

We have Stephanie to thank for lighting the spark, reminding us how much free fun is out there. She was our guide to the top of a garrigue covered colline and the medieval ruins of Chateau de Montferrand.

{Chateau de Montferrand}

{lunch with Stephanie}
After that success,we decided there was no stopping us. Not even a pair of 4-year old legs. They are actually quite sturdy.

We took off. Armed with a picnic and hearts full of vim and vigor, to the top of Pic St Loup. It's a craggy clump of mountain covered in wild thyme, scrub oak and pistachio trees. There was even black lichen. Have you ever seen black lichen?

{Pic St Loup peeking through}
Pic St Loup is a constant presence in the Hérault. Sitting firmly to the left of Montpellier, its ridged back ending in a finger point surrounded by vineyards.It was named after Thieri Loup, the oldest of three brothers, all in love with  the same girl, Bertrand. She died while they were off battling in the Crusades, having never chosen her favorite of the Loup brothers. Each Loup, heartbroken and bereft, took up residence on three different peaks in the region.

Pic St Loup wines have become quite popular in recent years thanks to vineyards like Puech Haut and neighboring l'Hortus, he of the dancing man on my favorite rosé

The best place to start your hike is at the edge of the small village, Cazevieille. There's a parking area there with picnic tables. When we went there were groups of families set up for the day, playing pétanque and swinging in staked hammocks. To the top and back is 6 kilometers. It took us, with the Littlest's sturdy legs and a bit of scrabbling near the top, around two and a half hours, give or take.

Getting to the top is the fun part. (Repeat this mantra to your pre-ado daughter all the way up.)

The terrain is mostly small rocks and an easy incline under shade until the middle when you break out and can see the vineyards below and out to the Med. Then, you're back under oaks and pistachios, ready for the hairpin climb to the top.There's a ruined chapel turned makeshift memorial where people leave trinkets and messages to loved ones as well as a guest book to prove you hiked to the top.

{leaving proof}

On the ridge, the views are breath-taking, the sheer drops nauseating. There is no guardrail or barrier of any kind.

{nauseating. he's delighted}

I was holding onto my people for dear life and kept thinking of that scene in Auntie Mame when Beau yodeled off the side of the Alps. There was a woman much braver than me lotus-posed on a rock, looking off to the horizon.

It made me want to hurl. 

{look how I'm holding on}

For some reason the kids started speaking French on the way down and I noticed something interesting. They don't whine in French. The Middlest tells jokes and makes French puns. Something about boobies playing off the word 'St' in Pic St Loup. Ma Fille actually laughs at his jokes and calls him names, 'minus' for example, which don't seem to be as insulting outside of English. 'Hey, Minus!' See. No biggie.

Like my Midi-Libre randonnée edition says, 'Le Pic Saint-Loup, mille fois vu et sans cessse redécouvert.' 
{Littlest looks wrecked, I look crazed, Big Kids look great}


  1. Gorgeous! How about those views (I'm with you, the lack of handrails makes me queasy - I have nightmares for days after trips like that). I love that second last photo where Littlest is all sweaty and tired. So cute.
    Glad to see you got some sunshine and I hope that summer won't be too far away for you guys (saw on the news this morning there was snow in France! In May. Crazy).

  2. I love the views. stunning. but, I love the pictures of all of you even more. the expressions are priceless.

  3. Love love love it! What a wonderful post, and great photos! Reading your post and seeing the beauty of the Pic Saint Loup and its surrounding made me smile this morning, what a great way to start a dreary, rainy day here in the "place that shall not be named" ;)

  4. Good for you, randonée-ing all over the place! I often have to remind myself, that although those little legs are shorter than ours, they can be just as sturdy!

  5. Love it. I wish I could go up there, but I don't think I have the agility and balance anymore. I'd just tilt off those precipices. Sigh.

  6. We love the Pic St Loup region although we have never hike to the top like your gang. We love the wines of that region and visited many houses there when we were doing our house hunting, especially around St Martin de Londres and St Mathieu de Treviers. My cousins in Clapiers really wanted us to buy there. Happy Mother's Day.

  7. Oh how you made me laugh! I love everything about this :)

  8. Looks like a great day out - even if the kids might not totally agree. I bet they loved it really!

  9. I love love love Pic St Loup. We climbed it recently (took a wrong turn at one point) and acutally had to c.l.i.m.b. That was fun. But the views are amazing. Well done you for getting the kids up there! We spotted a group who were going up when we were going down, heard us speaking English and then asked how long to the top. We said oooh about half an hour. They turned around to their kids and told them: "dix minutes" :)


It makes my day to read your comments. They're an answer to my floating words in blogland.