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Mary Magdalene’s Cave the Sainte Baume Grotto

Easter Sunday Mass was celebrated at ‘La Grotte de Sainte-Baume’ at the weekend to formally re-open the cave of Saint Mary Magdalene after its being closed for 10 months’ work. I hadn’t realized that this is Christianity’s 3rd most holy shrine after Christ in Jerusalem and St Peter in Rome. It is a memorable place to visit, reached by a wide pathway, the Chemin des Roys, which has many steps leading up to the grotto. Continue reading here for the original post.

Sainte Baume Grotto

Located between the busy urban centres of Aix-en-Provence and Marseille one finds a quiet place of reflection. In the heart of the Parc naturel régional de la Sainte-Baume, is a mountain that stretches 12km and a famous religious site. The Sainte Baume Grotto is a prominent destination for Christian pilgrimages and anyone interested in discovering the place where (it is believed) Mary Magdalene spent years in isolation. Stories from Christian religious history and associated legends of Mary Magdalene support the theory of her living a hermetic existence in this cave for over 30 years.

Mary Magdalene’s Cave Sainte Baume Grotto Statue

Baoumo is the Provençal word for grotto. The grotto is located inside a natural cave high on the sheer cliff face of the Massif de la Ste-Baume. A dense forest forms a thick, green canopy over the Chemin des Roys or the Kings Road. This pathway leads to the cave and small Dominican monastery. Catholic Popes, Kings of France and pilgrims alike have walked up the steep trail to the hillside chapel. There is a daily mass at 11 am at the Chapelle Grand Saint-Cassien inside the slightly humid grotto. Please note that it’s a good idea to take a jacket as the grotto is cool.

Additional reading: Author’s Pilgrimage Discovering Sacred Sites in France.

Sainte Baume Grotto Chapel Interior

Accessing the Grotto

The site is open all year. Check the website for exact hours.

The only way to reach the grotto is by walking up via one of the trails. At average walking speed, it takes about 45 minutes to reach the site.

  1. The Chemin des Roys (Kings Paths), the easiest and largest trail. This path is wide and mostly shaded. The walk starts at the Departmental road. The Trois Chênes (Three Oaks) is the best place to park your car.
  2. The GR 9 (GR = Grande Randonée indicates a long-distance hiking trail) is marked with red and white paint flashes. This path is narrow and steep in some sections.
  3. Finally, the Canapé Path is the third route option, with the trailhead located near the hotel.

Discover Le Parc naturel régional de la Sainte-Baume, which straddles the departments of Bouches du Rhône and the Var and blankets 29 communes.

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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."

For what is going on in Aix-en-Provence, Lynne has you covered at Aixcentric

2 Comments

  1. blank
    Catherine
    February 21, 2022 at 2:18 pm — Reply

    Hello. My daughter is in Aix-en Provance for a year of study. When I learned of this Grotto where Mary Magdalene lived for over 30 years, after Jesus was crucified, I desired for my daughter to go and visit.
    Will there be any group trips from Aix (planned by a church) to the Grotto planned this Spring?
    Thank you.

    • blank
      February 21, 2022 at 2:36 pm — Reply

      Thank you for your interest in Perfectly Provence. I am not aware of any tours of the site from Aix. However, your daughter should check with the tourist office in the centre of town. They may have tours or know of some private guides.

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