Saturday, July 2, 2011

The ultimate Grand Luberon Ridge experience

Even though this was pretty much the same as the introduction to the Mourre Negre walk, this is a pure ridge walk and could be extended to include the parts of the ridge done in the Mourre Negre walk. Here you will experience all the great views of the ridge in all directions and fantastic fauna (what about wild lavender or wild salads?).

This time you drive on from Cabrieres d’Aigues, direction La Motte and after about 2 km. (396 meter point) you take left, driving all the way up to 489 meter point where you park under the trees. Here starts a very old road that goes up the Ravin du des Vaucedes. You will meet the east-west forest road after about 25 minutes, and you take right along this for only some 100 meters, where you take left to continue the ascent for the Crête du Luberon (yellow markings at the 609 meter point).

You will reach the Luberon ridge in about 1 hour hard going at the 1052 meter point. But it’s worth it! Now starts the real crête walk eastwards, but make sure you use the path with the yellow or GR-markings (red and white) and not the forest road that winds its way around every small top. It means going up and down a bit, but it’s totally another experience from walking along the forest road. I suggest you walk on for a few minutes for lunch under a shaded tree up the first hill or find a spot further along.

Grand Luberon ridge in winter time
After a good siesta you are ready to continue the ridge path for about 45 minutes (after the 1052 m point). Now you need to concentrate in order to find your return path down the mountain side. As you can see on the map, just after the 1038 meter point (Coteau de la Combe) there is a small path going down in a south-westerly direction. It will give you great views as you go. After the mentioned 45 minutes, you will meet a cairn on your right. This is your point for taking off to the right and you will in fact find a second cairn after just some 50 meters. Just continue the small path that now should have become apparent and very shortly will have a direction down the hill. If you miss the cairns, take right when you get down on a flat open space, and follow this open space to the end, where you will see the small path going down the hill.

The return from the ridge down to the forest road will be about 35 minutes, but make sure you take the right turn after about 25 minutes (see map). You will take the forest road (near the 667 meter point) westwards towards the point you started from. But you could cut it short after about 40 minutes and simply go straight ahead at the 603 meter point (follow the iron pole with the arrow) and you’ll be at the car in 20 minutes.

As said in the introduction, this walk could easily be extended beyond the 5 hours stipulated total time (including hour for lunch). This is done by taking left at the forest road at the very beginning of the walk, and walk westwards till you reach le Couleton (586 meter point). Here you use the GR9 – GR 92 – GR 97 to climb up to the Luberon crête. This detour shouldn’t take more than an extra hour if you start the ridge walk eastwards when you have reached the 1027 meter point. If you decide to have a look at Mourre Negre as well (see the Mourre Negre walk), it will take you slightly longer.

Basic information:

Duration: 5h (incl. 1h for lunch)
Distance: 14 km.
Ascent: 700 m
Difficulty: Moderate
Start/finish: Cabrieres d’Aigues
Map: IGN 3243 OT (1cm=250 m)

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