Saturday, August 7, 2010

Luberon - Grand Luberon - La Citerne

Luberon - Grand Luberon – La Citerne

This is a great walk on days with mistral winds or if you want to stay away from the sun. But don’t try it first time on a very hot day. It takes you along small trails all the way up to the peak La Citerne on 968 meters; i.e. a continuous climb of approx. 600 meters. Here you will experience a fantastic 360 degrees view, and on good days you will easily see Mountain Ventoux, the Apilles and more.
Start off from le Etang in Cucuron, and take the trail signposted for l’Hermitage and marked with yellow markers. It starts off up the small road to the school. After about 5-600 meters, you meet the GR9 and there is a new signpost. Here you could opt for a longer and sunny start to this walk, by following the GR9 up passed the lovely Chapel de l’Hermitage, and follow the GR9 along the fire road till it meets another fire road coming directly from Cucuron (you are now 0,5 cm outside the map shown here). You simply take left in this junction and follow the fire road up to the 360 degrees turning, marked 627 meters.

On hot and/or windy days, I normally don’t walk up passed the l’Hermitage, but follow the GR9 in the opposite direction, along the paved road for about 250 meters only. On the map, you see a small creek crossing the road at the point where a small trail also crosses the road. You turn right on to this small unmarked trail (and not even marked on the map any longer). You might see some old GR-markings (red and white) because it used to be a GR trail. After a bit, you will notice a large fence going in the direction of the trail on the left side, some 100 meters or so from the trail. This is the fence for a large private estate, and after a while, you will see that the fence turns 90 degrees to the left and climbes up the hill. This is the end of the estate, and very soon, a small trail takes off to the left. Here you start your climb up the hill. After a bit, you pass some ruines of a house (le St-Esprit), but just continue until you meet the large trail (a track road, really), going along the ridge north/south. You take this road north and take a rest at the point marked 582 meters. So far, you have probably walked about 1 hour from Cucuron.

For those of you who opted for the route passed the l’Hermitage and along the fire roads, this is the time to join the rest of us at the point marked 582 meters. Just leave the large fire road in the 360 degrees turn, taking the trail taking down to this point (see map). Alternatively, you could take the small trail leaving the 360 degrees bend heading almost straight north (see map). This will be a short cut to the trail we’re heading for, but it’s a while since I have taken this one, so I can’t guarantee the quality of this trail.

From the 582 point we follow the track road heading straight north up the narrow valley to the 841 meter point, where you turn left out towards the Baumatrone. But it’s la Citerne we want for lunch, so turn right at the 898 meter point and follow the path up. It could be difficult to find this path, so I normally take off to the right quite arbitrary and follow the terrain upwards to the top. It’s quite simple to do that up here.

For the return to Cucuron, I suggest you join the fire road along the Grand Luberon ridge at the 929 meter point, and take left (west) to the first descent towards Vaugines at the 854 meter point. Here you get a yellow marked trail (track road) all the way to Vaugines, going down the Vauniere valley. As you can see from the map, you could take a short cuts directly on to this track road. If you manage to find the trail going straight down to the 814 meter point on the track road, take it.
From Vaugines, Cucuron is only 30 minutes along the GR97, which passes just south of the village centre.

Basic information:

Duration: 6h
Distance: 18 km.
Ascent: 650 m
Difficulty: Moderate
Start/finish: Cucuron
Map: IGN 3243 OT (1cm=250 m)

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