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Goldsworthy’s Refuge d’Art Hiking Trail in Provence

Hiking and Culture

Works by British sculptor Andy Goldsworthy, known for creating outdoor installations from natural materials found nearby, form part of a new 150km “art” hiking route which stretches across the north of our region. Named the Refuge d’Art, in the Unesco Geopark reserve in collaboration with the Gassendi Museum in Digne-les-Bains and the Réserve Géologique de Haute-Provence, it is the largest public collection of his work. Continue reading here for the original Aixcentric post.

Andy Goldsworthy’s Refuge d’Art

The results of this artistic collaboration between Andy Goldsworthy and the Musée Gassendi is several hikes along L’art en chemin. It takes roughly 8-10 days to complete the 150 kilometres and each hike promises fabulous landscapes and contemporary art along the way. The hiking is suitable for individuals of mid-level ability. The trails are signposted and easy to follow anyone interested in self-guided experiences. Alternatively, consider hiring one of several experienced hiking guides in the area.

Refuge d’Art is a work conceived by Andy Goldsworthy in the Digne area, in the protected area of the Réserve Géologique de Haute Provence. Connecting together three “Sentinelles” in cut dry stone that the English artist constructed in three valleys, the 150 km mountain trail follows old paths and crosses the traces of a former intense agricultural life. Andy Goldsworthy’s plan was to renovate some of these ruined buildings (a chapel, farmhouses, sheepfolds, etc.) so that hillwalkers could shelter in them, and to create a specific, lasting work in each of these “art refuges.” ~ from the Musée Gassendi website

The trails are free to access. However, due to limited space, the three refuges (alpine huts) along the way must be booked through the museum.

“Because of the distances between the Sentinels, I suggested that I renovate ancient buildings so that people could not only stay the night but so that I could also integrate a sculpture within. To me there is a tremendous difference between the works of art that we observe in a museum just for a few minutes and works of art in which we live for a short while, in which we sleep. To sleep in a sculpture is a wonderful idea.” ~ Andy Goldsworthy

Practical Information:

Musée Gassendi (website)
64 Boulevard Gassendi
Digne-les-Bains
Closed on Tuesdays.

Refuge d’Art (website)

La Forest – sleeps 15
Vieil Esclangon – sleeps 5
Ferme Belon – sleeps 6

L’Art en Chemin (website)


Hiking Tips in Provence

The Institute National de l’Information Géographique et Forrestiére (IGN) maps are detailed and very accurate. There is also an IGN application for smartphones. IGN website.

Sturdy hiking shoes are recommended.
Take water, sunscreen and snacks.
If you are challenged with steep downhill grades, hiking poles are a good idea.
There are signs, rock piles and paint flashes to indicate the way.
DO NOT hike if there is any threat of bad weather.

Other hiking resources in Provence.

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Lynne Alderson

Lynne Alderson

Aixcentric was set up by Lynne Alderson three years ago as a channel to send out info on events taking place around Aix as well as news, relevant books, the latest films, new shops and of course where to eat locally. Why?

According, to Lynne:

"It came about out of frustration with the lack of communication in the town. Posters would suddenly go up about an event that week. No prewarning. I had difficulty too in finding information from many of the tourist offices. Things are slowly getting better and there is sometimes information in English. Hopefully by keeping an eagle eye on the local press and talking with contacts in town, I can publicize fun things that people would otherwise miss. It's a ragbag of info that I come across on my travels. I've published nearly 600 posts now and have lots of followers so hopefully it is fulfilling its role of helping people, residents and visitors alike, get the most of their time in Aix."

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