If you enjoy a nice, quiet walk in the forest, then a stroll to the Chartreuse de Montreiux (also known as Chartreuse Notre-Dame de Montrieux) is just what’s called for.
The walk starts at the parking lot just off of the road D202. You can’t miss it because there is a large, white, iron cross to mark the entrance.
You will also see a sign which designates you are entering the Forêt Domaniale de Morières Montrieux.
Certain times of the year and certain times of the day, the parking lot may be full, so you will have to drive along the D202 to park on the side of the road.
I call this a “walk” and not a “hike” since the road to the Chartreuse in entirely paved and anyone can enjoy it. It is a very easy walk. You can bring strollers and wheelchairs and children can bring their scooters.
To start the walk, leave the parking lot going up the main road into the forest. The road winds around the beautiful forest on its way to the Chartreuse. As you follow the road, be sure to stop often to listen to the birds and to take photos of the surrounding area. The trees are lovely and the area is calm and serene.
About half way to the Chartreuse, on the left hand side of the road, you will see a small monument with a statue of Mary holding baby Jesus. It is usually covered in flowers and sometimes there will be candles there. Just above, is a plateau you can climb up in order to take a look around or have a snack. It’s a nice area to have lunch, as well. I would definitely encourage you to bring a picnic lunch and enjoy the lovely scenery. Please note: There are no trash cans, so in order to maintain the beauty of the area; you will have to take all your trash with you when you leave.
The Small Bridge
A little further down the road is a small bridge, or aqueduct. A favorite thing for people to do is go down and walk across it or stand in the middle of it and take a photo. I don’t encourage this, but if you do try it, you do so at your own risk. The stones can be slippery, especially in fall and winter. If you are wondering if I’ve tried this, yes I have. Happily I am still in one piece! I have, however, seen people take a tumble. They did not get hurt, but risk-taker beware.
You are allowed to leave the paved road and walk amongst the trees at anytime during the hike. Just remember to respect the area at all times.
As you head up the road, the Chartreuse will appear out of the forest just on the left-hand side. It is surrounded by a large wall. Continue walking up the road and you will arrive at the front of it. The outside is magnificent with the look of both a monastery and a castle. Since this is still a working monastery, you may not enter. The only part of it you can see is the little chapel Saint Roseline, of which the door is the last one on the right-hand side of the building as you are facing it. Here you may sit and rest for as long as you like.
A few times I have been on the walk, the monks were selling honey. I believe this is seasonal, but I would encourage you to buy some to help support the monks and the monastery.
For me, the fall season in Provence is lovely. Growing up in southern California, I didn’t see much of a fall with all the beautiful trees turning color. A Provence autumn is by no means comparable to an autumn of the New England states, but it still provides some lovely colors between the end of October and the beginning of December.
By far, my favorite season to do this walk is in the autumn. I love the cool, damp air, the yellow, red and orange colors on the trees. I enjoy seeing the leaves sparkle when the sun hits the dew on them. The vines on the Chartreuse also change color and give it a wonderful vibrant look. This is the time of year I can be found here quite often. It’s not unusual for me to be here a couple of times a week during this season.
The other time of year that I do this walk is in the spring time, when everything is just blooming and the green on the trees are the most vibrant. By late April, the forest is all fluffy with the leaves now full on the trees. The front of the Chartreuse is covered in green vines and practically hidden away.
The forest was planted in the middle ages. It is said that a Carthusian monk traveled to the Orient at this time and when he returned he brought with him seeds and went about having them planted all around the monastery which then became a large forest.
The monastery as you see it now, was built between the 17th and 18th century and was restored during the 19th century. There has been a monastery on this site since the 1137 A.D. Unfortunately, between that time and the 17th century, the many buildings that occupied the site were destroyed.
Just across from the main building is a small fountain with an inscription dedicated to those who were part of a small resistance group that travelled over the hills of the Siou Blanc to liberate the village of Le Revest during World War II.
During the French Revolution, the monastery was abandoned, but monks returned to occupy it in 1843. They lived here peacefully until being expelled in 1905. In 1928, the monks were once again permitted to occupy the site, but this time, they decided to close off the monastery from visitors in order to protect themselves and to ensure privacy.
In the year 2008, the monastery was occupied by 12 monks of the order.
If you would like additional information on the life of the monks you can visit the Catholic Diocese official page here. The page is only in French.
I would love to hear how your adventure went so please let me know by leaving me a comment below.
The location map, along with my Google Local Guide review, is here.