Oriented east to west, this limestone range has a sheer drop down to the Arc basin on its south side, while the north side slopes gently in a series of limestone plateaux towards Durance Plain. There is a striking contrast between the bright red clay at the foot of the mountain and the white limestone of the high ridge, particularly between Le Tholonet and Puyloubier.
Despite a fire in 1989, Sainte-Victoire is still a very popular place for walking and climbing. There are several routes to a 17th century priory (a place of pilgrimage) and to the cross of Provence, from where there is a magnificent panoramic view of Provence's mountains and the rolling plains of the Aix area. There is a road around the mountain with superb viewpoints overlooking Mount Sainte-Victoire; there are also several departure points for walks.
This route can be taken to visit the small villages that are dwarfed by the towering mountain ridge. Le Tholonet has an 18th century castle and the ruined arches of a Roman aqueduct. A little further on is the Roques-Hautes Departmental park, which protects the western slopes of Sainte-Victoire. Saint-Anonin-sur-Bayon is dominated by a large 18th century country mansion. On a little plateau nearby are the remains of a Bayon oppidum. Then to the east are the villages of Puyloubier and Pourrières, surrounded by vineyards .
At the foot of the northern slopes of Sainte-Victoire is the little village of Vauvenargues, stretched along a green vale. The castle, a large square 14th and 15th century building, stands apart on a hillock. It was bought in 1958 by Picasso, who was buried in the grounds.