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
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. On the edges of the Lure mountains and the Monts de Vaucluse, the upper Calavon flows in a north-south direction. 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 follow a woody glen where a small Cistercian abbey called Valsaintes once 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
Season calendar : year-round (summer: morning only, on very hot days)
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 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 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 levels 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