Rocher de Roquebrune - Provence Beyond
The Rocher de Roquebrune is a lovely red-rock butte jutting up out of a sea of green pine forest. The Rocher (rock) is at the north edge of the Massif des Maures, a mountain range that runs from the edge of Toulon to Fréjus-St. Raphaël.
The butte is prominent along the south side of the autoroute, near Fréjus, when you're passing through. The deep-red rocks are also clearly visible from small roads throughout the region, and are a lovely backdrop to the village of Roquebrune-sur-Argens.
Notre-Dame de la Roquette
Hidden in the forest on the northern slope of the Rocher de Roquebrune, the short bell tower of the Notre-Dame de la Roquette chapel protrudes from the trees. The chapel sits behind huge rocks in the forest, near the cliffs, so it becomes less and less visible the closer you get to it.
Immediately behind the chapel is the cliff face, with a jumble of gigantic boulders that help form a maze of caves and narrow passages between the stone. The impression is that the boulders have just fallen and might tumble again at any moment, although they have no doubt been there for tens of thousands of years.
The parking area on the little road near the chapel is now lined with "Private Property" signs painted on the rocks. There's no indication of what part of the area is private, or why or by whom. If you hike in from the east or west along the cliffs there are no signs, and nothing around the old chapel itself.
Notre-Dame de la Roquette was part of the defensive Convent of the Trinitaires from the 12th century. The chapel dates from the 17th century, still standing in the forest, beside the ruins of the more ancient buildings .
Behind the well-hidden chapel, a deep natural trench is cut across the base of the cliffs. A path drops down into the trench at the left end, traverses across to the right, and then curves back through a very narrow slot into the cliff, with rock walls rising high above the slot on both sides. Follow the narrow trail, passing beneath large boulders that have fallen and jammed into the slot before reaching the bottom. The trail curves right into a deep, narrow dead-end canyon, with a thick stone wall making the front of the hidden little Chapelle St. Jean tucked into the cave of the overhanging rocks.
• GPS: 43.452466, 6.603601
IGN (1/25,000) #3544 OT "le Muy, Lorgues, Mont Roquebrune, Maures"
(see also the Roquebrune-sur-Argens page).
Small trails go into the western end of the rocks from the north, and a trail crosses the center north-south. The GR51 trail crosses along the southern edge of the rocks, and there are numerous other little trails and small roads in the area to the south.