In the vicinity of Avignon :
strolling on the hills along the Rhône River
This gentle hike leads you uphill above the town of Villeneuve les Avignon, facing the Palais des Papes in Avignon, on the other bank of the Rhône, second longest river flowing through France. During this nature walk, you will stroll through pine groves, garrigue scrubland and pass by one or two dairy goat farms. On a bend, the landscape opens and you see Mont Ventoux and the Dentelles de Montmirail in the distance. But the best views are over the river, especially the ones from the Château Pointu built on a cliff towering the Rhône valley : you can admire the river and the Ile des Papes at your feet, the Fort St André in Villeneuve les Avignon, and can make out a little farther the towers of the Palais des Papes. An easy and pleasant hike to get some fresh air just outside Avignon.
Walking time : 2.5 hours
Rating : easy
Season calendar : year-round (summer : 8am – 11am only, not allowed on fire risk days)
A half-day trip from Gordes to Roussillon
Gordes and Roussillon, along with Bonnieux, Ménerbes and Saignon, are among the most beautiful of the Luberon hilltop villages where you enjoy life by walking down cobbled streets or savoring a terrace lunch. Midway between the towns of L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue and Apt, they have contributed to the reputation of this Provence region in France and all over the world. On this gentle walk, your local hiking guide will lead you during a half-day trip from Gordes to Roussillon through landscapes made of rolling hills, vineyards, olive or truffle tree groves and pine woods. Walking at the foot of the Monts de Vaucluse, you will keep in sight on your right the range of the Luberon mountains on the horizon.
Walking time : 3.5 hours (not including the visit of Roussillon former ochre quarries)
Rating : easy
In the footsteps of Van Gogh near St. Remy
During his five years in France, Vincent Van Gogh spent one year in St. Remy de Provence, that lies only 12.5 miles from Avignon. It is in the old town that this beautiful hike begins and gets its name from the fact that it takes you to many of the places where the Dutch painter set up his easel ; he painted there more than 70 works, transfixed by the luminous nature sceneries. You leave the town through plains where vineyards and olive groves carpet the landscape, before walking amidst a vegetation and surrounded by an avifauna both typical of Mediterranean nature. As you climb up to the Alpilles crest, in the middle of a pine grove, you can soon enjoy outstanding 360-degree views. This nature walk could also have been called the Rocher des Deux Trous (Rock with two holes), due to a rock formation at the base of which two big holes, invisible for long, suddenly appear, as you are getting closer. Before the end of the walk, you pass near the site of Glanum, Greco-Roman remains of a settlement that developed 2,200 years ago.
One of the loveliest day trips from Avignon !
Walking time : 3 hours
Rating : moderate (steep slopes and rugged sections of terrain)
Van Gogh’s Provence
Photographs of sceneries that could have inspired the Dutch painter
The Rocher des deux trous
In the footsteps of Cézanne
Nature landmark of the countryside around Aix en Provence, with its white limestone cliffs, 10 kilometers in length, and a drop over 1,500 feet (470 meters) on its south-facing side, Mont Sainte Victoire has not ceased to inspire artists, before and after Paul Cézanne. Probably this one is the painter who has the most intensely immortalized the rocky mount. Trying to capture the ever changing contours, he painted more than 80 pictures of the mountain. Along this trail, with your local guide, you too will have the opportunity to admire the different views of Mont Sainte Victoire, like the famous painter used to.
Walking time : 3 hours
Rating : leisurely (rugged terrain)
A circular route from St-Remy to Les Baux
through the Alpilles
This loop hike is, for its first half, the same than the one described above in the half-day hike section. After walking one mile away from Les Baux, a lookout will allow you to get a last attractive view of the village and ruined castle on their rock spur. To get back to the little town of St-Remy, you will have to recross the chain of the Alpilles, following different nature trails than the one taken earlier in the opposite direction. The vision of olive trees’ silvery leaves will be the sign that you have reached the lower slopes but the route through orchards and olive groves will be at least another half hour long to see the first squares and enjoy the ambiance of the café terraces, shaded by plane trees.
Walking time : 6 hours
Rating : challenging (long itinerary / rugged sections of terrain)
The climb up Mont Sainte Victoire’s western ridge
In the surroundings of Aix en Provence, this beautiful hike takes you to Mont Sainte Victoire‘s western ridge, that reaches the altitude of 767 meters (2,500 feet), about 300 meters lower than the central section of the ridge. Without requiring the physical necessary efforts needed to get to Croix de Provence, it offers an outstanding panorama. Starting from Le Tholonet, at the southern foothills of the mountain, you have, after one hour of warm up, to climb a steep slope for 30-40 minutes. Once on the Costes Chaudes ridge, you can enjoy a fabulous 360° view, especially the one of the famous triangular rocky peak that so much fascinated Cézanne, visible just in front of you. You, then, have to leave it behind you and follow the ridgeline down towards the Bimont Dam and its lake before heading back to Le Tholonet through the Nature Reserve of Sainte Victoire.
Walking time : 5 hours
Rating : challenging