From the Luberon to the Gorges du Verdon
Check out the 12 walks below & build your multiday guided tour









The Verdon Gorge


            Half-day trips between the Eastern Luberon and the Gorges du Verdon



A unique hike on quiet trails

This hiking tour takes place in the corner of Provence called Haute Provence. This region goes from Eastern Luberon to the Gorges du Verdon and the mountains that ring them. The trail that you follow during this hike allows you to gaze at the beauty of the typical landscape around. You walk here among hills incised by rivers in the northeastern part of the uplands of Luberon.
But you need a guide who lives in the area to uncover the trails on which you walk. However, two of the spots you will take delight in seeing are quite famed in this part of Provence. One is a natural site: a charming little waterfall where the stream that flows over a boulder into a big pool is towered by a 30-meter (100ft) high crag. The second one is a beautiful rose garden, called Roseraie de l’Abbaye de Valsaintes: this ecological garden stands near a restored abbey church in a place where monks had lived for 600 years, between 1180 and 1790.

Walking time : 3 hours
Rating : moderate
Season calendar : year-round (summer: morning only)

A genuine village in a beautiful setting:
Vachères and its plateau

What first strikes your mind when you hike this small cultivated plateau is the panoramic far-reaching view it provides. Indeed, this off the beaten track spot, more than 800m high, overlooks its surroundings. What a pleasure then to see from a distance the snowy Alps in the spring, while you walk in a T-shirt, gazing at meadow flowers and green tree leaves! And how gorgeous are these violet lavender fields in summer and lovely this small Provençal village on its hill! Vachères is even prettiest within its walls: you feast your eyes on its medieval architectural features, cobbled alleyways and ancient stone houses.
During this short guided walk, the only difficulty is a 10-minute climb in the woods, on a gentle slope. Even during a heatwave, you can take it, if walking before noon.

Walking time : 2 hours (point-to-point walk)
Rating : easy

Uphill to a medieval chapel in Haute Provence

The Chapel of Notre-Dame de Lure (1,236m) is located in Haute Provence, between Mont Ventoux and the Southern Alps, on the slopes of Montagne de Lure. It is the remaining part of a 12th c. abbey. In front of the church, majestic trees, three linden and one walnut, have been guarding the place for centuries. To reach this peaceful site from the small town of St-Etienne les Orgues, set at the foot of the mountain, you have to climb through different areas of vegetation. Some are covered with native shrubs and trees (juniper, blackthorn, dog rose, downy oak, Scotch pine, Italian maple, beech, silver fir, etc.), others with plantations (Atlas cedar, black pine, Douglas fir). It is only a few minutes before destination, as the Mediterranean climate influence is tempered by the altitude, that you penetrate the last one : a beech grove, where the ambiance suddenly changes.

Walking time : 3 hours
Rating : challenging (significant elevation gain)

A gentle hike from the Valensole plateau
to cliff side Moustiers Sainte-Marie

This leisurely walk with your local guide starts from a trail on the southeastern edge of the Valensole plateau. You have the opportunity to marvel at the gorgeous panorama over the turquoise Sainte-Croix lake. And if you hike in early summer, you can also admire beautiful lavender fields that are in blossom. After a good hour of walking on the plateau, you follow a trail through pine groves down to the valley located upstream from the lake. You walk through fields then, up Moustiers Sainte-Marie. The picturesque village rises in tiers at the base of soaring limestone cliffs and looks like a giant real-life nativity scene setting.

Walking time : 3 hours (point-to-point hike)
Rating : leisurely

In the depths of the small valleys of Luberon

Take a break from the crowds with this joyful walk to a refreshing spot: Saut du Moine. This is a waterfall at the confluence of the Calavon river, still a small stream, and one of its tributaries. There, the Calavon flows in a north-south direction. But about 15km downstream from Saut du Moine, when it meets the foothills of the Luberon mountains, the river changes course, running east-west.
On your way to the waterfall, you reach several pretty drystone guesthouses, set in a glen. In this place, a small Cistercian abbey nestled in the Middle Ages.
This pleasant walk is suitable for everybody as it is neither long nor difficult.

Walking time : from 2 to 3 hours (out-and-back or loop trail)
Rating : leisurely/moderate
Season calendar : year-round (summer: morning only, on very hot days)


Oppedette gorge

The tiny village of Oppedette, a former Celtic-Ligurian oppidum, is situated to the north-east of the Grand Luberon, between Forcalquier and Apt. It sits above spectacular gorges carved out by the Calavon torrent, a small canyon that is among the most beautiful ones in Provence & Côte d’Azur. During this short trip, your local guide will first lead you to several beautiful viewpoints over the gorge before taking you down into it, allowing a real exploration.
Another loop route, about twice longer follows the edges of the cliffs on the western rim to the southern end of the canyon, where a country road bridge spans the stream. 

 Walking time : 1.5 hour (3 hours for the longer route)
Rating : challenging (steep slopes, impressive sections)

If you have a fear of heights, you had better choose another hike.
Not recommended for children under 10.

Montdenier : a scenic ridge not difficult to reach 

This short return hike leads up to the top of the Montdenier ridge in the Provençal Prealps. Montdenier (1,751m / 5,745ft) is a 8mi/13km long ridge, quite horizontal on most of its length. Its southern extremity is only 4 miles from the deep Verdon Gorge. However, the two highest mountains of the Provence Prealps are nearby: Mourre de Chanier (1,930m) and Mont Chiran (1,905m).

You walk here in sub-alpine Provence, a transition zone between the Alps and the Mediterranean. If beautiful sceneries are plenty all around, exceptional flora is widespread, as well, due to the remarkable biodiversity of the territory. To get the opportunity to see a great number of flowers, come in June or July. And if you want to admire lavander fields on the Valensole plateau, come preferably between June 15 and July 7.

Walking time : 2.5 hours
Rating : moderate (elevation gain : 1,410ft / 430m, some steep sections)

Basses Gorges du Verdon 

Though a little bit less dramatic than the Grand Canyon of Verdon, located 15 miles upstream, Basses Gorges du Verdon (Lower Verdon Gorge) offers no less wild and beautiful landscapes. And its road access is easier: only a good hour drive from Aix-en-Provence.
All along the trail, under the leadership of your local guide, you can enjoy a lot of superb views over the emerald waters of the river: this splendid route, running alongside the river thanks to footbridges and passages carved in the rock, leads to the Chapelle Sainte-Maxime. This chapel stands up on a rocky spur overlooking the gorge.
A really lovely walk in the heart of Haute Provence.

Walking time : 3 hours
Rating : leisurely
Season calendar : year-round (summer : 9am – 12am only)











The big beech tree in Montagne de Lure


Day trips between the Eastern Luberon and Gorges du Verdon


The Montagne de Lure western ridge :
a mind-blowing panorama

On this day trip on the heights of Montagne de Lure, you mainly walk through wide-open areas offering panoramic far-reaching views. Nevertheless, you first hike through beech woods scattered with firs, which provides quite a different ambiance.

Starting from the small ski resort located at 1,550m (5,085ft), you reach your highest point at Pointe du Fau (1,700m) via barren pastureland. Yet, the goal of the walk is Sommet de l’Homme (1,640m), situated one mile further northwest. The panorama from this peak is breathtaking: northward, the Alps, with Barre des Ecrins (4,102m) and Pic de Bure; westward, Mont Ventoux; southward, Monts de Vaucluse, Grand Luberon and Mont Sainte Victoire; eastward, Lure peak and Tête de l’Estrop. You can see most of the part of South of France which is located east of the Rhône river !

Walking time : 4 hours
Rating : challenging (2,000 feet elevation gain)

The giant stone mushrooms of Les Mourres

North of the Eastern Luberon, next to the charming historic town of Forcalquier, known for its typical outdoor market, can be found the Mourres rocks. It is a fascinating site, where you discover several hundreds of strangely shaped rocks: some look like giant mushrooms, others like big weird muzzles. And that last shape type probably gave the name Mourre that means muzzle in Provençal.

Later, as you climb up to the highest part of the trail, you enjoy a beautiful view of the Alps on the horizon. And before the end of the circular walk, you have the pleasure to see a few Cabanons Pointus. These picturesque traditional dry stone huts are typical of the Pays de Forcalquier. You will certainly hear stories about them from your local guide.

Walking time : 4.5 hours 
Rating : moderate

The ridge of Montagne de Lure (1,826m / 5,990ft)
and the Chapel of Notre-Dame de Lure

Vast area of wilderness in Haute Provence, Montagne de Lure is the eastern part of a 40-mile long mountain range whose western end is Mont Ventoux. On its gentle south-facing slope, the elevation difference between the foot and top ranges from 2,000 to 6,000 feet. As the local climatic conditions change with elevation, 4 vegetation levels can be seen from the foothills to the top. And you explore during this hike the 2 highest ones: first, the crest is dominated by the grasslands of the subalpine zone, just as on top of Mont Ventoux; it is a low vegetation with few trees, all small; then, under 5,200 feet, the ambiance changes dramatically: you walk under tall fir and beech trees, some of them 300 years old.

The Chapel of Notre-Dame de Lure (4,055 ft) is the remaining part of a 12th century abbey. In front, majestic trees, three linden and one walnut, have been guarding the place for centuries. 

Walking time : 4.5 hours
Rating : challenging (significant elevation gain) 

A beautiful example of rural dry stone masonry:
Cabanons Pointus in Pays de Forcalquier

This pleasant hike above the small towns of Forcalquier and Mane in the Eastern Luberon allows you to discover a dozen of picturesque traditional dry stone huts. And as your local guide fills you in, you learn details about them. Surprisingly, they are called in French Cabanons Pointus in this area, while they are generally known as bories in the Luberon, particularly around Gordes. This name means: pointed huts.

But such old rural buildings are commonplace in the South of France. And they are still one of the richest treasure troves of dry stone architecture in the Mediterranean countries and one part of Provence cultural heritage. They are made out of stones held together without any mortar. And if most of them were built in the 19th c., the construction techniques go back as far as the Iron Age.

Walking time : 6 hours
Rating : moderate

Verdon Gorge, the Blanc-Martel trail

Sentier Blanc-Martel is the most prestigious trail among all those running through the Verdon Gorge and one of France’s most popular ones. That’s probably because it descends from the rim of the canyon 300 meters (1,000 feet) down the deepest section of the gorge. And hikers are offered the chance to explore the bed of the river for more than 5 hours.

Sticking to the bottom of the canyon during most of the walk, the trail actually follows the Verdon river very closely. That is why it provides beautiful views of the emerald green waters, then, contrasting with the grey rocks, especially in the narrows. Throughout this fabulous hike, you discover an amazing biodiversity, from the most common to the rarest species of wildflowers. Your local guide will be glad to tell you about them.

You also get opportunities to observe several of the 400 large griffon vultures nesting in the Gorges du Verdon. This raptor species has been back for 20 years now, thanks to the reintroduction of several dozens of individuals between 1999 and 2005.

The Blanc-Martel trail is a must for someone walking in Provence !

Walking time : 6 hours
Rating : difficult



Click  map of Provence                                                                                                                                               to get an overall view of the region                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            


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