This is a very different walk from most of my Luberon walks. The main attraction is the narrow and shaded Gorge de Vaumale (Combe de Vaumale). Nice for warm days from April to October, but not just after a rainy day because of slippery rocks. You walk along the bottom of the Gorge and there are quite a lot of small challenges in the form of high rock faces, narrow parts etc. However, with the help of all the solid steel bars fixed directly in the rock face and the occasional steel wire, you will not have much problems getting through the Gorge. Great fun for kids too, say from the age of 9 upwards. However, you will need both hands free for support, so on this hike all use of walking sticks should be banned.
I suggest you park at the large flat area at the road junction just 150 meters north of the small hameau of Parrotier (2 km. west of Lioux). The walk starts down the gravel road going south west (this is the yellow marked trail coming from Lioux). After only 15 minutes, you come to the yellow signpost at the start of the Gorge (marked simply Vaumale on top). Here you take right and start walking into the Gorge (you leave the yellow trail).
Follow the Gorge in at your own speed. Some may need a helping hand at certain points. However, it is fascinating to see how the rock face twist and turns and you cannot really go wrong down here. After a short half an hour, you come to the first possibility of leaving the Gorge. A small path crosses the Gorge here as you can see (and on the map). The main part of the Gorge is yet to come, however, so you continue for another good hour until you clearly see a yellow signpost marked Gorge de Vaumale 440m. Here is a nice opening if you want to have lunch.
You leave the Gorge here, taking left for Murs and simply follow the yellow markings (and GR for a bit). There is quite some space between the markings, however, so use the map and follow what looks like the main “road”. After about 30 minutes you come to the cross roads at Tourbe with a yellow signpost. Take left for Lioux. The return route southwards takes you passed and through fields with lots of fruit trees and a very nice view in most places. From Tourbe it takes you another half an hour to reach the T-junction marked “Le Grand Lieu Sec 349m”, and here you turn left for Vaumale.
Continue the yellow markers for Vaumale (you follow the old road) and after some 15 minutes you reach the surfaced main road (D4). Here follow this road (still yellow markers) to the left for only some 5 minutes until you see the left markers go downwards to the left on a narrow gravel track. Another 5 minutes and you are down at the starting point of the Gorge (Vaumale) and you return to the car straight on, like you came earlier in the day.
Alternative return route
On the map, you see an alternative return route at the end of this walk. Only some 130 meters after the yellow signpost at “Le Grand Lieu Sec 349m”, you see a small path taking off the main path to the left. You can follow this path down into the Gorge. Here you could follow the Gorge down to “Vaumale” or leave the Gorge at once on the small path going upwards. At the water cistern, you will meet the road you take back to the parking.
|Falais de la Madeleine behind Lioux|
|Lavendel at Tourbe|
Duration: 3,5h (excluding lunch)
Distance: 10 km.
Ascent: 350 m
Difficulty: Moderate (but many small ladders and chains)
Start/finish: Parrotier (2 km west of Lioux)
Map: IGN 3142 OT (1cm=250 m)