Guided hiking in the Luberon mountains,
beautiful landscapes and charming Provence villages
From Gordes to Roussillon
Gordes and Roussillon, along with Bonnieux and Lourmarin, are the most famous of these small charming towns in Provence that have contributed to the reputation of the Luberon region all over the world. On this gently walk, your local hiking guide will lead you during a half day trip from Gordes to Roussillon through a landscape 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
The Gorges de Veroncle,
a half day trip from Gordes
Not far from the picturesque Provence town of Gordes, your local hiking guide will lead you in the lowest section of the 5-mile canyon that the Veroncle river cut into the south-western bottom of the Monts de Vaucluse. What makes this short hike unique is that the cultural heritage is even more valuable than the one nature has left : we will see the remains of three of the ten watermills that were built between the 16th and 19th centuries. These old buildings are of a high quality in an area that is not easily accessible : dams, cutstone penstocks, retaining walls, large reservoirs and long canals carved out of the rock, and numerous millstones. A wild and beautiful spot.
Walking time : 3 hours
Rating : challenging (some rocky passages, a few ladders)
The ochre sands of Colorado
Through the former ochre quarries still visible to the north of the Luberon mountains, one of the most prodigious spot is called Colorado de Rustrel ; it shows fascinating varyingly hued landscapes, sculptured both by nature and by man, in a palette of colors, varying from saffron yellow to blood red and including white sands as well. In addition to the breathtaking views you will get along the pathway, your guide will show you some of the last remains of the ochre industry and provide you with interesting facts about this economic activity that flourished in the region of the Luberon during the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Walking time : 3 hours
Rating : moderate
Situated between Forcalquier and Apt, the village of Oppedette, a former Celtic-Ligurian oppidum, sits above spectacular gorges carved out by the Calavon torrent, small gorges that are among the most beautiful ones in Provence & Côte d’Azur. During this short trip, your local guide will first lead you to several beautiful points of view over the mini canyon 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.
A singular walk surrounded
by the intriguing Mourres rocks
The Mourres rocks can be found to the north-east of the Luberon, next to the charming town of Forcalquier, known to have one of the most typical Provence markets. 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 higher, you enjoy a beautiful view of the Alps on the horizon. And before the end of this circular walk, your local guide will allow you to enjoy discovering a few Cabanons Pointus, these picturesque traditional dry stone huts whose unique outline is specific to the Forcalquier area.
Walking time : 4.5 hours
Rating : moderate
Buoux and the valley of the Aiguebrun
On a rocky spur high above the gorges of the Aiguebrun River lie the impressive ruins of a medieval fortified village called Fort de Buoux. Located in the heart of the Luberon mountains, this incredible site is a beautiful and peaceful place that the Neanderthal man chose to settle down, 50,000 years ago. It is a very special area due to the contrast between a cool and humid valley with lush vegetation and temperate climate plants, and a desolate plateau, covered with lavender fields and scrubby woods. Inside the 13th century fort, numerous medieval vestiges remain : defensive walls, watchtowers, dwellings, cisterns, grain stores and a church. And the hidden staircase is an alternative way down from the fort, but not for the faint hearted !
Walking time : 3 hours (short route without Fort de Buoux visit) / 5 hours
Rating : from moderate (short route) to challenging (steep and rocky sections)
Walking from Lacoste to Bonnieux,
two hillside villages of the Luberon
For centuries, they have been standing face to face, each one on its hill, at the foot of the Luberon mountains. From Lacoste, dominated by the imposing ruins of a castle which belonged to the Marquis de Sade, you will walk between olive groves and truffle plantations, vineyards and lavender fields, enjoying the local color that set the charming ambiance of Peter Mayle‘s novels. On the long itinerary, your guide will lead you on the slopes of the Luberon up to the Cedar forest. On your way down, you will have a multitude of viewpoints over Bonnieux, and its very picturesque terraces. The panorama extends from Lacoste to Roussillon and Gordes, three of the most lovely perched villages, with Mont Ventoux visible in the background.
Walking time (including both villages’ visits) : 3.5 hours (short) / 5.5 hours (long)
Rating : from leisurely to moderate
Gordes, its dry stone building
heritage and Sénanque Abbey
During this walk, you will see one of France’s most beautiful little towns, Gordes, located less than 25 miles east of Avignon. And you will be able to discover the amazing rural architecture of Gordes surroundings : dozens of huts and other ancient farm buildings, such as cisterns, vats, ovens, and sheep shelters, all built in dry stone. Another major attraction is the Abbaye de Sénanque, nested in a narrow valley at the foot of the Monts de Vaucluse, whose harmonious ensemble of buidings is considered as one of the purest examples of the cistercian architecture.
Walking time : 4 hours (not including the visit of « Village des Bories »)
Rating : moderate (stony ground)
Walking up to the Mourre-Nègre,
summit of the Luberon mountains
On this itinerary starting from Castellet, a tiny village on the Luberon northern slopes, your guide takes you within two hours up to the top of the mountain. If the trail across the downy oak forest is steep, the result is worth the effort: you get, from the Mourre-Nègre (3,690 ft), a 360 view that allows you to gaze at all the summits of Western Provence – particularly the white limestone crest of Mont Ventoux – and, if not invisible in the heat haze, the Mediterranean Sea.
Walking time : 4 hours
Rating : challenging (steep slopes)
The history of the Vaudois in the
Luberon and the Gorges de Régalon
This hike offers you the opportunity of learning about the history of the Vaudois (or Waldenses) in the Luberon during the 16th century. Beginning in Mérindol, a village by the Durance river, it takes you up to the stoney plateaus at the bottom of the Petit Luberon mountain. The final part is a descent into a narrow and spectacular canyon very special for its luxuriant vegetation, the Gorges de Régalon, where the walls rise 250 feet above the path. You will walk through a breathtaking passage that is only 30 inches wide and see a remarkable cave on your way.
Walking time : 5 hours
Rating : moderate (stony ground)
From Bonnieux, a terraced village, to Roussillon, standing on its ochre hill
At the foot of the Luberon mountains, Bonnieux, one of its largest villages, rises in tiers on a hillside. From the top, you enjoy breathtaking views, as far as Mont Ventoux and the Alps. Closer can be seen several perched villages : Lacoste, Roussillon and Gordes. After walking down through the narrow streets of the village, you roam the countryside made up of vineyards, orchards and meadows. Halfway, you reach Pont Julien, a Roman bridge that spans over the Calavon river. Before Roussillon comes out, the trail on which your guide takes you snakes its way accross wooded hills. To top it off, a dramatic walk on a footpath starting in the heart of the village allows you to discover the wonderful colored cliffs of the former ochre quarries.
Walking time (including the visit of villages) : 6.5 hours
Rating : challenging