Explore: Travel in ProvenceJulie WhitmarshStay Fit in Provence

There is Great Hiking in the Luberon

This last week, I have been out every day, walking with Millie. Not just a little amble along the lane or up the trails at the back of the house, but good, long walks, exploring some favourite tracks and finding some new ones too.

Although the physiotherapist has said that I can start cycling again, I really still don’t want to head off on my own, and as it’s been so cold, the roads and cycle routes are still treacherous in places with black ice. Also, I don’t think Andy would forgive me for ringing him to say I’ve had another accident … I realize that he has had more than his fair share of those calls from me in the last year!

So the time that I would have normally spent on my bike, I have put on my walking boots and taken to the well-marked tracks and trails, taking the opportunity to explore the area a little bit more. Continue reading here for the original text and beautiful photos.

Hiking in Provence

There are many hiking trails throughout Provence, from the moderate Luberon and Alpilles hills to the steeper pitches near Mont Ventoux and the Dentelles de Montmirail. You can also choose to head to the coast in either direction (east or west) from Marseille to find some beautiful hikes along the coast, although some of these trails could be difficult if you suffer from vertigo. The standard hiking rules apply in Provence, as they should anywhere, good shoes, sunscreen, hats, water, a snack and a mobile phone.

Follow the Plague Wall

Mur de la Peste: When most people hear of “the Plague,” they shudder and think of the Black Death that killed nearly a third of Europe’s population in the 1300s. But did you know that as late as 1720, an outbreak in Provence took the lives of over 100,000 people? And that the Pope and the King of France built a great wall to stop its spread? Today, the Mur de la Peste is seen mostly by hikers and dog walkers. Sections of the wall are still visible, and some areas are restored (approx. 6km) to demonstrate the enormity of this project and the desperate attempt to stop the spread of the plague. Find more details here and here.

Mur de la Peste Luberon ExploreProvence

Near Gordes

Abbaye de Senanque to Gordes: Julie took her dog on a walk from the infamous Abbaye de Senanque to equally renowned Gordes. The Abbey can be a mass of people at the height of the lavender season, with everyone attempting to get that perfect shot of the lavender rows framing the Cistercian monastery. However, in the off-season, this part of the Luberon is magical for hiking. Here are the details.

Luberon Dog Walk Abbaye de Senanque Gordes @Vauclusedreamer

Rhino Prints near Viens

One of the things we love about Provence is its wonderful wildlife, and recently we’ve been lucky enough to watch ‘Sangliers’ foraging at the side of the road. This hike in the Luberon National Park is classified as a “Reserve Naturelle Nationale” due to the unique ancient fossilized mudflats. They spotted the three-toed footprints left by the ancient ‘hornless’ Rhinos and other animals on the rocky mudflats. The walk is approximately 8.5 kilometres and took about two hours to complete.

A Tight Squeeze

Gorges de Régalon slot canyon

Les Gorges de Régalon is located between Cavaillon and Mérindol, in the Luberon. The circuit is only 9km and offers a bit of everything in a three (3) hour hike. The walk starts at the easily accessible parking, where it is free to park, and you may even find a spot in the shade. The first stretch is a walk along a creek bed past a small grove of olive trees. Immediately after the olives, the trail heads straight into the gorge. The direction of the path is evident as the steep canyon walls close-in quickly. There is only one way forward, leaving no choice but to scramble over the rocks to follow the narrow corridor. This hike is not recommended for anyone with claustrophobia and not advisable on a wet day.

Upon High

Ruins Fort Buoux Luberon

Visit the Fort Buoux Ruins. One of the lesser-known attractions of the Luberon the site is fascinating. In the fall/winter or the fog, it feels a little like the middle of nowhere. Once inhabited by pre-neanderthals, then Celtic peoples and the persecuted Vaudois from Piemonte. The site hasn’t been occupied for about 300 years. The layers of history are evident in the remnants. 

Hike for the View

Julie’s walk to the summit of Mourre Nègre return was 13km (8 miles) hike starting just outside of the village of Auribeau in the Luberon. The summit is at 1125m, not as high as Mont Ventoux, but certainly at an altitude that provides a glorious view of the Luberon Valley and all the way to the Mediterranean (on a clear day).

Mourre Nègre Hiking Luberon @VaucluseDreamer

Colourful Roussillon

The Ochre Trail (Le Sentier des Ocres) is more of a walk than a hike. There are two trails of different lengths (30 or 60-minutes). Once you have paid the entry fee, you can stay as long as you like. Information signs along the route describe the geology and the history of the ochre deposits in the Luberon. The trail closes on an annual basis in January (exact dates vary from year to year). Tips: leave your visit for late in the day as sunset is stunning, and wear a pair of older shoes.

Provence's Natural Ochre Roussillon

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Julie Whitmarsh

Julie Whitmarsh

Julie and her husband Andy started visiting the Vaucluse area 25 years ago & over the years have increased the amount of time they spend there with their growing family. She has a deep affection for the area, finding it is a great place to visit, where the whole family can relax and enjoy time together.

She longs for the day when she can ‘up-sticks’ from her home on Dartmoor & relocate to the Luberon and spend her days cycling, walking, visiting markets & brocante fairs and of course enjoying the local food and drink.

Her blog VaucluseDreamer gives her a space to highlight some of her favourite things about the area from places to visit to particular activities that she and her family all enjoy.

She hopes one day it will be a place where she can share the process of renovating a house in France, but at the moment that will have to wait.

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