Other regions

Luberon, beauty of Provence


Time: 7 days - 6 nights - 7 days of activities

Mode Self-guided

Physical level: Easy

from 570 €

Code: 18PLUBLF

Travel type: Self-guided walking

Region: Other regions - France

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As it descends from the southern Alps, the River Durance makes a slow loop around a limestone plateau known as the ‘Luberon', a rugged, wooded region that stretches for about 65 kilometres between Cavaillon, in the East, and Manosque, at its western extremity. The western end is known as the ‘Petit Luberon' and the eastern end as the ‘Grand Luberon'. The two sections are divided by the Combe de Lourmarin (the old pathway), which cuts across the mountains between the charming villages of Bonnieux and Lourmarin.

 

It's a beautiful region, rich in colour and contrasts, with vivid sprays of scented lavender, bright green vines, ochre-coloured villages and austere white limestone hills. This is the heart of Provence, an area that has attracted artists and writers for centuries, with dozens of lovely villages to explore, ancient forts, spectacular abbeys and countless other geographical and historical sites.

 

There are some marvellous walks in the area, following the GR9 from the medieval village of Viens to picturesque Rustrel, or hiking across rocky escarpments down into dramatic gorges, where ochre was once mined.

 

Provence is also known for its food, with garlic, olives and olive oil playing an important role in the preparation of many dishes.

 


Dates and prices

Every day from March to November. Bookings from 2 people or more. BE CAREFUL : This walk is not recommended in July and August, very hot period and most of the time forbidden due to risks of fire in the forests. No bookings during this period (July-August).

 

Prices :

Price per person based on a group of 2/3 people 

 610 € 

Price per person based on a group of 4/5 people 

 570 € 

 

Extras/Discounts :

- Extra for a single room option : 150 €/pers

- Extranight in Apt in BB double room : 45 €/pers

- Extranight in Apt in BB single room : 65 €/pers

- Transfer for Marseille airport to Apt 1 to 6 pers : 200 €/transfer


The price includes

- Half board accommodation (except days 1 and 6 in bed and breakfast)

- Transfers mentioned in the program

- Luggage transfers

- Dossier containing maps, route notes (1 for 4 persons, given in 1st accommodation)

- GPS tracks if you ask us


The price does not include

- Holiday and travel insurance

- Additional transfers

- Evening meals day 1 and 6.

- Entrance fees, additional activities

- Drinks and picnics

- 10€ : booking fees

 

Day 1 : Start of holiday in Apt

Installation in your accommodation in Apt. You may choose to walk to the nearby village of Saignon, depending on your time of arrival.
Walk in Apt via the 'Bellevue' rock

A walk to the village of Saignon, perched on top of a hill behind a large rock that towers over the valley. Saignon is a peaceful little village that you can easily explore on foot. Opposite the town hall there is a pretty 12th century Roman church and while walking through the narrow streets you will see ancient fountains, picturesque shady squares and beautiful old houses with intricate doorways. It is worth climbing up to the ‘Rock of Saignon’ where you can enjoy a marvellous panoramic view of the plains and the Luberon range. If the weather is fine, you can see Mont Ventoux, the Lure Mountains, the Alps of Haute Provence and even the heights of Avignon ! Thanks to its rock, Saignon played a key defensive role for the town of Apt, attacked through the centuries by numerous invasions... although not yet by tourists ! Distance : 10km, duration : 3h30, altitude gain : +230m, descent : -230m.

Day 2 : From Cereste to Viens

The walk starts at the ruins of the Priory of Carluc, located near the Domitian Way, the Roman Via Domitia (one of three ancient road systems in the region) that once passed through Apt and Bonnieux. Here you can see the last remains of an 11th century priory and the 12th century chapel, still intact, is surrounded by a Carolingian necropolis consisting of about ten tombs dug out of the rock. From here you join the GR97, one of the famous long-distance paths (‘Grande Randonnee') that traverse France. You arrive at Opedette, a tiny hamlet built at the end of a spur, bordered to the East and West by rocky escarpments known as the Gorges du Calavon. From Opedette to Viens the path follows these gorges, with lovely views. Depending on your energy levels, you may wish to take an additional circular walk from Viens, known as the ‘Circuit des Bories’, where you’ll find old dry-stone dwellings (bories), constructed without mortar, that are typical of the region. Distance : 14km, duration : 5h00, altitude gain : +567m, descent : -400m.

Day 3 : From Viens to Rustrel

Surrounded by magnificent countryside, and perched on a rocky outcrop, Viens is an ancient village with a charming medieval atmosphere. It boasts a Renaissance château, restored in the 14th century, where you can enjoy a panoramic view from the Montee de la Pousterle to the Lure gorges. Continuing along the GR97, in the direction of Rustrel, you have the opportunity to hike along the famous ‘ochre route’. The mining of ochre began more than a century ago, and Rustrel soon become an important production centre. Today, after a long decline, the exploitation is almost at an end, although the ‘Colorado Provençal’, as it is known, has received a second lease of life, attracting numerous visitors each year. Your route takes you past an incredible succession of rusty-coloured rocks, golden cliffs and red earthen chimneys that rise majestically out of the vegetation. Rustrel itself is dominated by a beautiful 17th century château, and during the summer months visitors can relax in the municipal outdoor swimming pool. The village is also known for its ‘Côtes du Ventoux’ wines. After the walk, short transfer back to Viens. Distance : 16km, duration : 5h30, altitude gain : +235m, descent : -455m.

Day 4 : From Saignon to Buoux via the Mourre Negre

In the morning, short transfer to Saignon. For the more courageous, departure from Saignon, one of the oldest villages in France, perched on a huge rock and providing an amazing panoramic view of the area. From here you have the option of walking up through fragrant woodland and lush green fields to the Mourre Nègre, the highest point in the region, at 1125m, where you enjoy another spectacular panorama. On a clear day you can see right across to the Southern Alps. You then continue to your ‘auberge’ just outside Buoux, your base for the next two nights.

From Saigon to Buoux via the Aigue Brun valley

From Saigon, a second choice of walk that passes through the Aigue Brun valley to Buoux along the plateau des Claparèdes. Distance : 15 km by the Mourre Nègre, duration : 6h00, altitude gain : + 615m, descent : - 715m. OR Distance : 10km or 7,5km, duration : 5h30 or 3h00, altitude gain : +115m, descent : -90m or -215m.

 

Day 5 : The village of Bonnieux

A circular walk from Buoux allows you to discover the many layers of history in this region, with impressive views of the Aigue Brun Valley. The limestone cliffs around Buoux are equally interesting; they were once a retreat for hermits in the 15th century and now they offer an exciting challenge for rock-climbers. You continue towards Bonnieux and doubtless you will spot its church tower long before the rest of the village comes into view. Built on a plateau above the valley, it is one of the finest villages in the area. Some of its houses date back to the 16th century and, if you climb the 86 stone steps to the old church, you’ll enjoy an outstanding view of the mountains of the Vaucluse, with Mont Ventoux towering in the distance. While here, don’t miss the Boulangerie Museum that houses an interesting display on bakery and bread production. You return to Buoux for the night. Distance : 17km, duration : 6h00, altitude gain : +270m, descent : -270m.

Day 6 : From Buoux to Apt

Today’s walk takes you up through the village of Buoux, where you can visit the ancient fort, well worth a detour if only for the excellent view of the valley and into the deep ravines of the Aigue Brun River. You then follow the GR9, across the Plateau of Claparedes, which brings you to the outskirts of Apt, the last stage of your walk through the heart of Provence. Apt is situated in the centre of the Luberon Natural Park, and is reputed for its local products. It is known world wide for its candied fruit, and the Saturday morning market is one of the great sights of the region, with fresh fruits, goat cheeses and many other local products available for sale. Distance : 11km, duration : 5h00, altitude gain : + 135m, descent : - 365m.

Day 7 : End of holiday in Apt

End of your holiday in Apt. Possibility to do a circular walk and discover the Pays Aptois.

Pays Aptois

The walk starts in Apt and follows the GR9 in the direction of Saint Satunin les Apt. Discover small hamlets typical of the Pays aptois region. Distance : 10km, duration : 3h30, altitude gain : +250m, descent : -250m.

 

 

This programme is an example of the itinerary we aim to adhere to. It may be necessary, if situations arise that are beyond our control, for the itinerary to be modified.


Welcome

Day 1 at your accommodation in Apt, depending on your time of arrival.


Dispersion

Day 7 at your accommodation in Apt, after breakfast.


Level

Nature of the walk

The walks are on good footpaths and trails, the terrain is varied but often rocky.  

Level 2/5

The walks are on good footpaths and trails, the terrain is varied but often rocky. You need to be used to walking and take regular exercise to enjoy this holiday. 


Accommodation

Half board except days 1 and 6 in Bed & Breakfast
2 nights in hotel on days 4 and 5
4 nights in guesthouse on days 1, 2, 3 and 6
Swimming pool access for 4 days

 

Food

Continental breakfast (tea, coffee, milk, butter, jam)
Evening meals in gites, often based on local specialities, include a starter, a main course and a dessert except day 1 and day 6 you have more choice of restaurants in Apt.
Pic-nics and drinks are not included.


Carrying luggage

You will need to carry a day sack only, with your water bottle, camera, picnic and goretex jacket. Our bag-moving service means you can travel light during your walks. Your main luggage will be transported by vehicle between the different night stops. 


Guide

Self-guided walking, without guide.

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