Home » Multiday tours » Hiking between the Eastern Luberon & the Verdon Gorge


Choose among 10 trails between the Eastern Luberon and the Verdon Gorge

and build your multiday tour

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Verdon Gorge

       
            Half-day trips between the Eastern Luberon and the Verdon Gorge

 

 

A gentle hike from the Valensole plateau
to the hillside village of Moustiers Sainte-Marie

 

This leisurely walk with your local guide starts from a trail on the southeastern edge of the Valensole plateau.  You can marvel at the magnificent 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
Rating : leisurely

 

 

 

Walking up 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 village of St-Etienne les Orgues, at the base 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) 

 

 

 

 

 

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 descent and ascent)

If you are afraid of heights, you had better choose another hike.
Not recommended for children under 10.

 

 

 

Montdenier : a panoramic 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 Verdon Gorge. The two highest mountains of the Provençal Prealps are nearby : Mourre de Chanier (1,930m) and Mont Chiran (1,905m). We are 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)

 

 

 

 

The Basses Gorges du Verdon 

 

Though a little bit less dramatic than the Grand Canyon of Verdon, located 15 miles upstream, the Basses Gorges du Verdon (Lower Verdon Gorge) offers no less wild and beautiful landscapes. And its 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 Verdon Gorge

 

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 areas of open space offering panoramic far-reaching views. But you would have first hiked 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, particularly Barre des Ecrins (4,102m) and Pic de Bure ; westward, Mont Ventoux ; southward, Plateau de Vaucluse, Grand Luberon and Mont Sainte Victoire ; eastward, Signal de Lure and Tête de l’Estrop. You can see most of the part of the south of France located east of the Rhône river !

 

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

 

 

 

 

The giant stone mushrooms of Les Mourres

 

To the north of the Eastern Luberon, next to the charming historic town of Forcalquier, known for its typical Provencal outdoor market, can be found the Mourres rocks. It is a fascinating site, where can be seen several hundreds of strangely shaped rocks : some look like giant mushrooms, others like big weird muzzles. 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 Northern 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 storeys can be seen from the foothills to the top. You hike through the 2 highest ones. The crest, just as that of Mont Ventoux, is dominated by the grasslands of the subalpine zone, a low vegetation cover almost without any trees. 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. As your local guide fills you in, you learn details about them. They are called Cabanons Pointus in this area, but generally known as bories in the Luberon, particularly around Gordes. These rural buildings are 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 gorge. 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 follows the Verdon river very closely. 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

 

 

 

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