A hike up Pic Saint-Loup was expected to be a highlight of our trip to Montpellier. We decided to make the ascent last Friday, when decent weather was forecast and while we still had the rental car. As far as I could tell, it’s not at all easy to get to by public transportation.
As has been the case with most of our road trips outside Montpellier, getting out of the city was half the battle. There are a lot more tram lines now than when I lived here back in 2003, and there are also a lot more pedestrian zones. As a result, cars are being squeezed onto fewer streets. There also is no such thing as a right angle in the layout of the city streets, which has taken place organically over the centuries. It’s easy to get lost. A navigation system is great tool, if it works. The one in the rental car, which was almost brand new, didn’t seem to recognize certain city streets as being closed to traffic. However, we did eventually make it to the trailhead, about 45 minutes after we left, just outside a village called Cazevielle, about 30 km north of Montpellier.
Kathryn and I had consulted different online sources about the difficulty of the Pic Saint-Loup trail. Her source said it was difficult. My source said it was easy. When we arrived at the trailhead, the informational sign said it was intermediate, so I guess it depends on whom you ask. From my perspective, the first three-quarters of the trail were on the easy side of intermediate. It was somewhat steep, but the only technical challenge was the rockiness of the trail. For the remainder of the trail, it got a lot steeper and required a small amount of scrambling, but nothing I’d consider terribly difficult. That said, Kathryn and I both had made the decision to pack hiking shoes for this trip in spite of the extra bulk in our luggage, and we were glad we wore them.
It took us about an hour and ten minutes to make the climb up Pic Saint-Loup, which got us to the top in a nice sweat. We relaxed for about a half-hour at the top, had a small lunch, and took a bunch of photos, including the selfie of Kathryn and me I posted on Instagram a few days ago. It then took us about the same amount of time to get back to the trailhead. The descent was much easier on the heart rate, but significantly harder on the knees.
It was a good thing we hiked Pic Saint-Loup when we did. Shortly after we started driving back to Montpellier, a strong mistral wind picked up, and it really didn’t let up until Monday.