I’d like to share my impressions of visiting one of the most mysterious and incredible places in Provence – the Grotto of Saint Mary Magdalene. This place is legendary and is full of extraordinary power.
According to the legend, Saint Mary Magdalene settled in the “solitude mountain” among rocky cliffs near the Sainte Baume village. She had been living there during 30 years preaching the Teaching of Jesus Christ. She did at the age of 63. She was burried in the Saint Maximin Abbaye not far from Marseille. Tens thousands of piligrims visit these holy places every year. Saint Mary Magdalene is the protector of family. Believers come to these places to pray for marriage well-being, children birth, family conflicts resolving.
The road from Marseille to Sainte Baume goes via a picturesque serpentine – vineyards are followed by the olive fields. Traditional Provencal landscapes. There are several car parkings near the root of the Sainte Baume mountain. We always stop at the “two oaks” one. These oaks are not ordinary ones – hey are more than fifteen hundred years old.
You can get to the Grotto by two mountain roads – the first one is straight and steep, the second one is less steep, but longer. The second road is very interesting and even fairy.
We are at the Grotto entrance in 40 minutes. The temperature inside the Grotto is stable, it doesn’t change from winter to summer – always about 12° C. It is fresh and spacious inside. There are Saint Mary Magdalene statues, icons and many gratitude plates inside.
Dominican monks have been the Grotto keepers since 1295. A mess is conducted every Sunday at 11.00.
I think, this is the most wonderful holy place I have ever seen. It is like a cave church. You can feel a unique energy inside the Grotto. The atmosphere of love and peace. Each person feels something different there. I think it is very important to pray from you heart there.
After the Grotto, we went up to the top of the mountain. You can enjoy an astonishing view there. One side of valley reaches Saint Victoire massif – you can clearly see the mountain. The other one reaches the sea. And you are above all this, watching the nature beauty, together with birds.
This piligrinage will always be in my heart. Impressions of visiting it are difficult to express with words. If you have an opportunity to visit this legendary place – I strongly recommend you to do it.
- Hats, convenient sport shoes, and sun-protective cream are obligatory!
- To take 1 l of water per person with you;
- There are tables with benches near the parking – you can have a picnic there;
- Take some warm clothes (a pullover is fine) with you – it’s about 12ºC inside the Grotto and can be windy on top of the mountain;
- You can go from parking to the Grotto with children – they’ll make it;
- Be ready to about two hours of active walking.
If you have any questions, please feel free to ask me – I’ll be happy to answer the. I hope this information will be useful and will inspire you come to this place and take this route.