When you arrive in Provence, you will see the steep slopes of Mount Sainte-Victoire on the east side of Aix-en-Provence. This range is on edge of the Arc Valley. The light and the cragginess of the mountain attracts artists to this day. Cezanne painted about 60 paintings when he lived here.
This range was formed along with the Pyrenees when the Iberian plate (Spain, Corsica and Sardinia) collided with Europe about 135 – 70 million years ago. Then 5 million years ago the earth moved again and the mountain range rose another 400 meters reaching its present height of 2200 ft. Mount Sainte-Victoire stretches more than 11 miles long, but best yet, this range is still growing. Satellite measurements show that it is rising at the rate of 7mm per year!
If you are a scientist who studies dinosaurs, you are in luck. At one time, between 80 and 65 million years ago, the Arc Valley had a tropical climate and was marshy. Lots of dinosaurs lived here. (No I don’t have any dinosaur pictures.) Fossilized eggs and dinosaur remains have been excavated.
The first people, Celto-Ligure, thought that the wind god lived on top of the mountain. 1000 years later the Romans arrived. The Celto-Ligure people defended their territory from the Romans but lost and by 122 BC the had Romans settled in and were in charge. 20 years later the Tetons and Ambones arrived and threatened the Romans. At the base of the mountain a bloody battle ensued. You know who won.
I’ve lived in this area, off and on for years and have never been to the top. So I promised myself that on my next visit in October, I will hike up on the easy side. These photos were taken the other day on our way to and from La Ciotat.