Monday, March 4, 2019

Les Borrys: Vallon du Degoutau – Rochers des Onze Heurs – 6h.

Large deep cave in the Roque des Bancs (a small detour for lunch).

Fantastic walk, recently descoved on VisoRando (tip from a local friend). This ascent to the top of Petite Luberon is the most spectacular I have ever experienced, and the descent was also one of the best. So this makes the walk one of my preferred walks in the whole of Luberon. But it  has its difficulties.

Waiting for the chain going up!

The walk is classified on VisoRando as very difficult, and I must agree in general. The main difficulty is climbing a 4-5 meter almost vertical cliff with the help of a chain that is in place here. You need to be an experienced mountain walker with strong hands to handle the chain. But we are a couple aged 67 and 70 years old and we had no problems getting up on our first attempt at this walk in March 2019.

Last of the 2 chains.
The other main difficulty is simply finding your way. But that is really no problem any longer, as long as you have loaded your portable telephone with IGN-maps and the gpx-file that shows this walk. (I use the VisoRando app.) I can assure you that you will have some difficulties without this! You have the link to map and gpx-file below.

Basic information:

Duration:      6h (including lunch)
Distance:     14 km.
Ascent:        600 m
Difficulty:      Difficult
Start/finish:   Les Borrys (2.5km east of Merindol)
Map:             IGN 3142 OT (1cm=250 m)

Rochers des Onze Heurs

Fantastic views all the way up!

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Short Winter Walk along the Upper Aiguebrun Valley (3h or 4h)

It’s well worth the 25 minutes drive from Cucuron to the Aiguebrun valley (park at the last car park before the Restaurant/Hotel Seguin) to discover a totally new “face” to the Luberon mountains. You will also find that this area has been inhabited by people from a very long time back. A kind of cultural trek.

When you come to the end of the road to Seguin (just before the private road crosses the river to the Hotel), you start off on the dirt road to the right marked yellow and red, going into the forest right here. After a few minutes, you leave the dirt road (follow yellow and red markings) and you will soon come to a bridge crossing the river Aiguebrun. This is a popular place to take a closer look at the river.

The Aiguebrun valley - you follow high up on the sunny side.
Since it’s winter, we want to have the morning sun, so continue across the bridge and walk over to the yellow signpost (just before the locked iron gates to the Hotel – new in 2018), where you turn right up the hill. Follow this wonderful old carriage road turning and winding up to the top of the hill (still a few yellow & red markers), where you turn right and follow an unmarked path along the top of the mountain side.

About 10 minutes along this ridge, you see a beautiful old Bori structure in stone on the left and walking another 15 minutes look out for the next point of attraction, which is well hidden below. On the map it’s called “la Baume de l’Eau and you see a very small cairn on the main path, which you leave here for a quick look “down under”, where you will find an old large water basin inside the mountain side.

La Baume de l'Eau
Walk back up to the main path and continue another 15 minutes, or till you meet another large old carriage road, coming from Apt going down to the river (again yellow and red markings). You don’t want to cross the river just yet, however, unless you want to cut the walk by about 1 hour. You should now have walked about 1h 20min and cutting down over the river here will only leave you another 1h 40min back to the car.

Waterfall just before you turn around high up in the Aigubrun Valley.
Walking on this old carriage road down towards the river, take the first major path on the left after only a few minutes. You are now entering a wild life protected area and follow the path parallel to the river. Take the second right hand path after about 10 minutes, and you will soon join the path next to the river Aiguebrun. After only about 5 minutes, you will pass a 2 meter water fall and just afterwards, there is a large area of the river where you can pass over (often dry here, but could be lots of water just after rain fall).

Just after the river crossing, you get to a large grass field and you see a sign post. Take the path going up the wooden steps to the right up the hill and start walking back down the river. This is quite a nice old road and after 10 minutes you meet a second sign post. Here you turn right (or rather straight on) and continue further downstream until the main path turns sharp right down to the river. Walk down and cross the river at the bottom (you might want a stick to better balance on the rocks).

Chantebelle between Sivergues and Seguin.
You are now back on the lower path along the river (right side) and you follow this close to the river till you join up with the large old carriage road (yellow and red markers). You will soon come down to a place where it is easy to cross the river for the last time. From here, just follow the red & yellow markers first down the river a short bit, then turning left up to the small village of Sivergues where you will be in less than 30 minutes from the river crossing.

Still inhabited house just after Chantebelle.
Since this is a winter walk, I don’t take any of the paths marked for Seguin from here. They are excelent for summer because they follow closely the river almost all the way back to the car. For more sun shine, however, follow the lowest tarmac road leaving Sivergues going almost south. It will be marked for Chantebelle, perhaps in places. You follow the tarmac road in winding turns, but the tarmac stops after 15 minutes. After about 30 minutes leaving Sivergues, you walk into Chantebelle and you see an old big flat sign telling you to turn right down this track for Seguin. You now starts on perhaps some of the the nicest parts of this road as it is turning and winding its way back to Seguin. After about 25 minutes you meet up with the dirt road that you were on this morning, so just follow this down to the car.

Basic information:

Duration:       4h (without lunch break)
Distance:      12 km.
Ascent:         300 m
Difficulty:      Medium (river crossings, read text)
Start/finish:   Auberge Hotel Restaurant Seguin
Map:             IGN 3243 OT (1cm=250 m)

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Gorges de Regalon (4h including 30 min. lunch)

This is perhaps one of the most popular walks in the Luberon. The Regalon presents its challenges for non-fit adults, but kids just love all the small places for climbing along this very narrow gorge. Do not attempt the gorge in rain or just after rain fall. The rocks become even more slippery when wet. It is also a nice cool walk in the summer with little sun in the gorge.

In order to get a pleasant round trip (the gorge represents more challenges going down than up, so avoid going back the same way), we suggest you park in front of Chapelle Ste-Therese in La Roquette. On the D973 towards Cavaillon, you pass the signpost for Gorges de Regalon, and continue along the D973 another 2km and take right for La Roquette. The Chapelle is on the right after just over 100 meters.

The walk starts along this road (follow yellow markings) going north till you get to a yellow signpost after about 500 meters. Here you turn right (for Regalon) and continue along yellow markings till you get to the next signpost after about 1 km. Here you turn right again (for Regalon) and after about 1.5 km you will be at the next signpost just before the large parking for Gorges de Regalon. Here, you turn left (for Merindol), but take almost immediately left again for the large car park. Now take the large trail taking off straight north at the end of this car park (not marked any colour). After some 10 minutes from the car park, you reach an olive grove and you follow the grove to the start of the gorges, about 15 minutes north of the parking, or almost 1 hour from the car.

The Gorges starts off quite wide, but will soon narrow in to only the size of a person. Some parts will take some time to get through, especially if there are many people, but after about 30 minutes (a lot longer if you take photos or are having problems) you have covered the main part of the gorges and you reach a new yellow sign post. Continue the path straight ahead (for l’Agranier) and after about another 10 minutes easy walking you reach the yellow signpost at the forest road that passes here.

On the forest road, you turn left (for Valon de Galere) and continue the now wide gorge for another 20 minutes for the next signpost. Here, you just continue the road straight ahead (for Regalon) and you reach the end of the Gorge de Regalon after only some 150 meters where the main forest road goes. Now you have walked for about 2h and there is nice open spaces for pick-nick (shaded), and you have another 1.5h back to the car.

At the main forest road you turn left (for Regalon) and continue the curve upwards out of the Gorges for about 600 meters till you reach the next yellow signpost at a water reserve (Citern at 369m). This is a large junction, so be sure you take the first left turn (for Regalon). You reach the farm “les Mayorques” after about 20 minutes. The farm gives good shelter against the wind and rain and is popular with walkers.

The return trip from Mayorques to the car takes about 1 hour and you start out on yellow marking straight south across Crau des Mayorques. Just before going downhill (after only some 10-15min.), you have fantastic views of the Durance valley and behind you, the Luberon mountains. Eventually, you are down at the 2nd yellow sign post of this morning, where you follow the same route back to the car (follow for La Roquette).

Basic information:

Duration:       4h (incl. 30 min. lunch)
Distance:      12 km.
Ascent:         400 m
Difficulty:      Moderate
Start/finish:   La Roquette
Map:             IGN 3142 OT (1cm=250 m) - CAVAILLON

Just north of the Gorge: Where GR6 climbes up on the Luberon Crete.

les Mayorque

View of the Durance Valley.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Vitrolles: The eastern ridge of Grand Luberon – 3 hours walk

Very close to the most eastern point of the open ridge of Luberon.
This walk will give you a taste of the ridge of Grand Luberon with its views in all directions. You start at a high altitude (700m) and the trail is fairly gentle going up, so it would also be one of the easiest ways to get up on the Luberon Ridge in only about 1 hour.

This would be a great walk for winter time also, as long as the wind stays moderate. To get maximum sunshine, however, use the return route also for the onwards walk up the mountain.

Drive up past the village of Vitrolles-en-Luberon and continue the D33 till you reach the highest point on the road (le Crete), called Aire des Mascas, and park here. The walk starts along a wide trail going west and is marked yellow and GR (blue & white).

This is where this 3 hour walk ends.
The trail turns slowly north and goes almost parallel to the unsurfaced fire road, both rising slowly. After about half an hour you almost join the fire road for a small section and after another 5 minutes you branch off on the GR trail to the right (just after the 840 meter point). The GR trail will take you gently all the way to the ridge of Luberon (939 meter point) in another 25 minutes. I suggest you climb another 15 minutes up the GR trail to the top at the 1038 meter point for fantastic views in all directions.

This is a bit futher west if you chose to walk longer.

If you have got a taste for this section of the Luberon, you could extend this walk by simply following the GR trail further along the ridge and turn around later.

This walk turns around here on the 939 meter point. However, when you have returned back down on the 939 meter point, follow strait on and take the brisk climb straight ahead. It takes you further on the ridge, first to the 974 meter point and then the 967 meter point. From the last point, you need to head south-east down through some forest to get on the fire road as quickly as possible (5 minutes).

St. Martin and La Motte in front of Etang de la Bonde
You follow around the bend of the fire road (another fire road joins in from the right) and you get down to the 840 meter point in about 30 minutes from you where you left the ridge. Following the fire road all the way back to the car will take about another 35 minutes.

Basic information:

Duration:       3h (excluding lunch)
Distance:      11 km.
Ascent:         400 m
Difficulty:      Easy
Start/finish:   Vitrolles-en-Luberon (Parking des Mascas, 700m)
Map:             IGN 3243 OT (Pertuis Lourmarin)

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Falaise de Lioux (Madeleine) – 2 hours walk

Falaise de la Madeleine is an impressive 100 meter high vertical wall that is situated just behind the small village of Lioux. The ridge goes on for quite a while, but the main 3 km. is just like any mountain ridge with great views in all directions.

This is a nice afternoon walk along the top of Falaise de la Madeleine from the start at Ancien Moulin de Lioux to la Verrerie. You have fantastic views all along at every angle, but you better stop to view the landscape because it’s easy to trip on a stone.

You park at Parking de la Combe, down on the main road to into Lioux from the south, where you have the bridge across the small river. Start the walk across the bridge on the road in south eastern direction towards the Falaise. After only 5 minutes you take the road sharply to the right (yellow signpost here – follow for Roussillon) in south western direction along the Falaise.

You reach the big intersection at Ancien Moulin de Lioux (also a parking here) in another 10 minutes and here pay attention. You do not want any of the big forest roads going from here, but you take the very first path (green markers) that enters the wood on your left (sharp left!) as you approach the parking. This is the start of the green markers that follows along the entire length of the Falaise.

You will quickly enter into the open rocky ridge that goes north eastern direction. You could try to follow the green markers all the way, but you might miss out some because the path is marked the other way; i.e. you see green arrows for people taking this route the other way. Don’t worry about that, just keep left everywhere possible, just about.

View south: Roussillon and Le Luberon (Mourre Negre)

You could of course take the walk the other way. In winter time and early spring, this will mean more shadow along the ridge below (unless you start very late in the afternoon) and you will get a low sun straight in your face going up on the ridge itself. In the summer it does not matter which way you go. It will be hot anyway.

La Verrerie

It will take you about 45 minutes to walk the length of the ridge to the point where you for the first time will see a good track going down on your left, and it takes only 5 minutes to walk down to La Verrerie, where you turn left just before you come to the main house (homemade signpost here). Make sure you pay attention after 7-8 minutes walk from La Verrerie. Here, you meet some houses and a road. Make sure you follow the yellow markers, first sharp left and then sharp right after only some 50 meters.

Lioux village
The path will meet the main road into Lioux from the north about 25 minutes after La Verrerie and now just follow the road through the village of Lioux and further along till you return to the car about 20 minutes later.

Basic information:

Duration:       2h (excluding lunch)
Distance:      7 km.
Ascent:         250 m
Difficulty:      Easy
Start/finish:   Lioux (Small parking lot on main road to Lioux)
Map:             IGN 3142 OT and IGN 3242 OT (1cm=250 m)

Lioux village

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Les Alpilles – along the ridge from Col de Vallongue, passed the Pas de l’Aigle and down by the Rocher des Deux Trous. (6 hours including 1 hour for lunch.)

This is a great hike in the Alpilles between Saint Remy and Eygaliere. It is also good for winter because most of the walk is well exposed to the sun. The ridge is a little difficult at times, but for an experienced walker with a good balance you should be ok.

Drive towards Saint-Remy-de-Provence from Cavaillon on the D99 road, but 2.5km. before the City center of Saint-Remy you turn left off the D99 by the Restaurant (on the right side of the road here). Dive on till you meet the GR-trail (and yellow trail) going eastwards here on the plains (see my markings on the map).

The walk starts off eastwards along the GR-trail, so just follow the red & white markers (and yellows). Nice country side with lots of vines and olive trees, but because of private property, the path takes you left and right in places you don’t expect (follow the path on the map).

Col de Vallongue
After about 50 minutes walking, you come to right turn at “le Mazet” wine domain. You turn right here and walk straight on (I suggest you ignore the non-pedestrian sign on this road because the GR trail is marked here and alternatives are difficult). The non-pedestrian zone lasts only for about 500 meters and is difficult to understand. About 15 minutes after “le Mazet” you come to a signpost where the GR6 trail comes down from the mountain. You want to take right here and follow the GR6 the 25 minutes climb up to Col de Vallongue and further westwards along the ridge of les Alpilles.

If it’s already lunch time when you reach Col de Vallongue, this would be a nice place. Otherwise walk along the ridge for about 30 minutes. Here the path turns right and you need another good 5 minutes to reach the top of the ridge here. This is where I would recommend for lunch, even with cold northern winds (you will find shelter).

After a good 30 minute’s walk you reach “Pas de l’Aigle” where the ridge is narrow and goes up and down a few meters. Take your time and hold on with your hands. (No walking sticks, please. That would be dangerous.) Afterwards you climb up to the Plateau de la Caume where you will walk “around” the first (small) antenna about 15 minutes later. (Make sure you follow the GR markings here to get to the straight road towards the next (big) antenna in another 15 minutes.)

Saint-Remy-de-Provence in the background
Just before you get to the big antenna, the GR turns right along the forest road that winds around and down to the next sign post at the 302 meter point in about 15 minutes. Here you should consider using an extra 20 minutes looking closer at the big rock with 2 large wholes (Rocher des Deux Trous) by taking the trail that starts about here going north east for about 500 meters.

Rocher des Deux Trous
From the 302 meter point you return to the car by taking the GR6 further down along the valley below you here. It will take you about 40 minutes to the next sign post, where you will turn right and right again after only some 5 minute’s walk along the GR653 eastwards. You will find the car in another 15 minutes.

Basic information:

Duration:       6h (including 1h lunch)
Distance:      15 km.
Ascent:         400 m
Difficulty:      Moderate (but steep and rocky in places)
Start/finish:   Saint-Remy (on the GR653, about 3km east of city center)
Map:             IGN 3042 OT Tarascon (1cm=250 m)