Mountain in Auriol
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Situated to the far East of the Bouches-du-Rhône, the Massif du Regagnas stretches into the neighbouring Var region. It is framed to the North by the Massif du Concors and Massif de la Sainte-Victoire, to the West by the hills of Gardanne, and to the South by the Etoile and Garlaban chains and the southern part of the Massif de la Sainte-Baume.
From a topographical viewpoint, the central area of the Massif du Regagnas resembles a northwards-sloping plateau, carved with mainly North-South...Situated to the far East of the Bouches-du-Rhône, the Massif du Regagnas stretches into the neighbouring Var region. It is framed to the North by the Massif du Concors and Massif de la Sainte-Victoire, to the West by the hills of Gardanne, and to the South by the Etoile and Garlaban chains and the southern part of the Massif de la Sainte-Baume.
From a topographical viewpoint, the central area of the Massif du Regagnas resembles a northwards-sloping plateau, carved with mainly North-South facing valleys, some of which are fairly wide and suitable for crop growing, as at Kirbon. The plateau is bordered to the south by the North-facing crest line formed by Regagnas mountain, set overlooking the town of Bouilladisse. This crest line stretches northeastwards to the Var region's Monts Auréliens. The eastern section of the massif is characterised by a sloping relief oriented northwest and southeast. A second crest line, situated to the far South of the town of Trets, is separated from the first by the Clos de Barry dip.
The Massif du Regagnas benefits from a Provencal Mediterranean type climate, characterised by a high rate of sunshine, long summer droughts, high average annual temperatures, a frequent Mistral wind (diverted by the Sainte-Victoire massif) and, to a lesser extent, southeasterly and southwesterly winds.
Forming a transitional zone between the Sainte-Victoire and Sainte-Baume massifs, its tower-like relief constitutes a visual frontier to the Pays d’Aix area. Highly forested, its northern face is nonetherless barren in places this is particularly visible from the Plaine de l’Arc to the foothills of the Sainte-Victoire. Its piedmont is still used for farming purposes, with predominant wine growing (Côtes de Provence AOC area).
The southern face is more discreet and difficult to observe: the massif's foreground tends to obstruct more distant views over its high chain. This face is home to highly typical sites, including ancient farms still in operation and little chapels. …
Animal farming in the Massif du Regagnas is relatively well-developed, and a study in 2002 confirmed the presence of two industrial farms at La Barque (700 ewes raised for meat) and Trets (70 goats and ewes raised for milk), plus grazing herds at the Peynier site (30 castrated goats and rams), Fuveau (1,000 ewes from the town of Alleins) and Trets / Fuveau (120 milk-producing ewes from the town of Saint-Savournin).
Horse riding is a popular activity, but is mainly practised in the plains bordering the massif, home to several horse breeders, who use the massif for trekking purposes rather than grazing.
Although agriculture in the massif has regressed, in particular due to urban development, it remains a relatively thriving industry in the Vallée de l’Arc and in certain areas of the massif, in particular thanks to wine growing. Local agriculture is favoured by the presence of various AOC and quality labels, with several vineyards producing Côtes de Provence AOC wines. The massif is located at the edge of the Aix-en-Provence AOC olive oil growing area and also produces "Red Label" honey and Herbes de Provence.
Public frequentation is fairly widely distributed throughout the massif but remains concentrated on the existing tracks and footpaths. It is increasingly popular with mountain bikers, and reputed for its various itineraries and downhill runs.
Last but not least, urban development is rife in the area, where population growth is far above the Bouches-du-Rhône regional average. Houses are mainly of pavilion type and are widely installed in both natural and agricultural zones, hence exacerbating forest fire hazards. However, development projects currently appear to be slowing down somewhat.
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