Friday, June 1, 2012

Massif des Cedres and la Baume Rousse

Petite Luberon Fallaise

Tour Philippe
This is quite a different walk from the normal Cedre forest walks. Here we will explore the steep fallaise of the Luberon and have some fantastic views. Very open landscape most of the way, so good for winter too. The return walk takes you along the part of the ridge of the Petite Luberon with the most fantastic views of both the north and south Luberon. The only snag is that it is also the road that people use to drive into the Cedre forest. But you can see almost every village in northern Luberon, the Alpes in the far east, le Ventoux, le Victoire and much more.

Drive up towards the Forest des Cedres, but park the car just after the Gite d’Etape, near the 609 meter point for example. Walk the road back down again and leave the road by turning right (south) in the sharp bend just before reaching the Gite again. This yellow marked trail takes you down to Tour Philippe and down into the Combe du Sautadou. Follow the Combe to the 481 meter point (30 min), where you take sharp right (back a bit) and follow the wide trail upwards. Very soon (after about 500 meters), however, you turn off this trail and take the trail going upwards to the left. It’s still quite a wide trail and it will continue beeing so all the way up to the larger forest road you eventually will meet at the 580 meter point (1h 00min).

This forest road you simply follow all the way up till you eventually meet the main road (1h 40min) going deeper into the Ceder Forest. You walk on; pass the main road barrier after only 5 minutes, and after another 15 minutes you should be at the Citern (water reserve) just after the 696 meter point (2h).

At the Citern, you leave the road on a small (unmarked) trail to the left that seems to follow the road at first, but in fact takes you down to the cliffs. After only some 500 meters, the trail turns right, but just continue, and soon you will find yourself below the massive cliffs of Petite Luberon. The trail follows about the same hight, just below the first cliffs, and you can enjoy at least 2 big caves along the way and an old Bergerie (remains of buildings in the caves). At the Bergerie you will have the Baume Rousse right south of you (2h 25min).

After the Bergerie, the trail soon goes back up again to the plateau, and you just follow the trail (here marked by several stone cernes) back to the main road. You will meet the main road about 100 meters west of the 667 meter point (2t 40min). Take right when you meet the road and walk back eastwards to where you came from. But for the return walk, we will follow the main road all the way to the car (4h).

Along the ridge after leaving the Ceder Forest, you have an exeptional view north, south and east. You see the the Ventou mountain to the north, Victoire to the south and the Alps to the east. In addition you have a very special view of most of the villages on the north side of Luberon.

Basic information:

Duration:        5h (including 1 hour for lunch)
Distance:       17 km.
Ascent:           350 m
Difficulty:        Easy
Start/finish:    Bonnieux on the road to the Ceder Forest
Map:                IGN 3142 OT

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