This is one of my favourite walk both up and down the Grand Luberon, and one can easily vary the route along the top. Specially on a Mistral day (heavy winds from the north), this walk gives fairly good shelter almost all the way, especially if you follow the main forest road on the Crete and not the Crete itself. It's also a great winter walk. Normally the ascent on Grand Luberon is a long boring climb through dense forest with no views. That could be handy on really hot days during the summer (cool shades), but otherwise a bit dark and dull. This walk takes you to the top by crossing several valleys, thereby giving great views in places. The descent along the old GR9 trail is equally great for its many views. (The GR9 has now changed slightly.)
Park the car by Vaugines’ lovely church and walk along the road that goes straight north, passing the church yard on your right. Another road joins in from the left; and 75 meters later, take the road to the left. You reach a type of “round about” after only 300 meters. It’s an opening in the forest, but you keep right, and almost at the top of the “round about”, take the forest road off to the right. After about 800 meters or 6-7 minutes (20-25 minutes from the car), you reach a small plateau and you take left here on the new forest road going west. This road is actually not on the map, but don’t worry. Keep on this road roughly along the 550 meter altitude line westwards till you reach la Grand Fontaine (the last section is only a good path). Here you are on a small hill where you turn right down the path that takes you to the bottom of Vallon de Vauniere (1h). Here you meet the forest road going up this valley, and take this road upwards only 100 meters before you take off to the left on another forest road. Now you walk across to yet another valley, Vallon de la Figuiere, and follow this road all the way till the top of the Luberon, where you join the road along the ridge at the 890 meter point (2h). It's the GR9 that is marked along the ridge road here (the "new GR9" takes the Vallon de Vauniere from Vaugines and joins the ridge road at the 854 meter point, only some 600 meters further east).
I must admit I did not notice where the GR9 takes off down towards Buoux, but from the 898 meter point just continue along the ridge till it stops and continue the large path into the woods at the end. As you see on the map, the path will join the ridge road at the water citern just before the 813 meter point.
After the change of GR9, you have to pay great attention where to take off the ridge road, in order to get back to Vaugines. Only 250 meters after the water citern (or 100 meters after the 813 meter point), you see 2 large cairnes on the left side of the road as the road turns to the right. Here you get on the small path (now not marked, although you see plenty of old GR - marks along the route). This means you have walked about 30 minutes along the Crete. The return back down to the car from here is about 1,5h.
An even smaller path takes off to the left after only 250 meters, but do not take this. The old GR9 follows a very nice route with some fantastic views along the way. Just keep on the path, and you eventually end up in Vaugines.
Duration: 5,5h (including lunch)
Distance: 14 km.
Ascent: 600 m
Map: IGN 3243 OT (1cm=250 m)
GPX-file: Vaugines1 (Free download from list)
Pour le fichier GPX, vous pouvez télécharger à partir d'ici (voir ci-dessus) ou mettre à jour via ce lien VisoRando où vous pourrez également voir l'itinéraire sur une bonne carte.
For the GPX-file, you could download from here (see just above) or update through this VisoRando link where you also will see the route on a good map.
September 2019 Anne 6,5h and lunch at 12.20: Shaded area under trees up towards 902 m. point.