Right in the heart of one of France’s most coveted regions you will find the remarkable massif named the Luberon, set within the famous Vaucluse Provence to the south. This spectacular slice of countryside could be France’s best kept secret, composed altogether of three mountain ranges: the Lesser Luberon, the Greater Luberon and the Eastern Luberon. Among these gorgeous mountains, picturesque villages are perched on hilltops while vineyards stretch as far as the eye can see.
We got together with the folks at Vaucluse Provence Tourism, to find out about some of the most beautiful hikes in the Luberon, and why the region deserves a firm place on your adventure bucket list.
The Ochres Trail
This unusual trail leads hikers though a vibrant orange and red landscape formed by former open-pit ochre quarries, where emerald foliage makes a stark contrast from the flame-coloured terrain. Found in Roussillon, the trail begins at a car park and also features informative signs along the route to provide fascinating insights into the way the sands were formed and mined in the old ochre quarries. The entire route should take you no longer than an hour and is open daily and accessible for a small fee, weather permitting.
This historic site has been sculpted by man and nature over the ages and makes for a unique hiking experience. During the 19th and 20th centuries, the area surrounding Rustrel was known for its contributions to both the iron and ochre industries.
This industrial past has formed a unique landscape made up of orange-streaked quarries resembling the desert-style scenery you might expect in America’s wild west, hence the name. Expect the hike to take approximately three hours, with the trail open daily with free entry (although a parking fee is compulsory for those wishing to use the car park at the start of the trial).
Discover the Luberon’s vast network of vineyards on this picturesque loop in Oppède, which features insightful information boards helping hikers to learn about the nature of different soils in the region and how they contribute to the production of wine, with detailed descriptions of how different varieties are made. Beautiful rolling countryside views complete with picturesque chateaus perched on the hillside make an enticing draw for this trail, which begins at the Terrasses de Saint-Cécile car park in Oppède and should take hikers around an hour to complete.
Anything but boring, don’t be put off by the name of this sensational trail, which traverses the majestic Vancluse mountains through fragrant forests of pine and oak. This trail is simply glorious in springtime, when the forests are buzzing with wildlife and heavy with the scent of blooms.
It also allows visitors to discover the ruins of several dry-stone huts known as ‘Bories’ that served as barns, stables or seasonal homes for farmers in the 19th century, and is well way-marked throughout with several more unusual features to check out along the way. The hike begins and ends in the charming village of Saumane, where you will also find an impressive château-fortress, formerly entrusted to the uncle of the famous Marquis de Sade.
More things to do in the Luberon
As well as spectacular hiking, there are plenty more adventures to be had in the Luberon region of Vaucluse. Wine aficionados should try a vineyard tour and wine tasting to learn all about how your favourite tipple is made, while those who like their adventures on two wheels will find a wealth of cycling and mountain biking trails to explore. Stunning lakes and rivers provide ample opportunities for water sports – the perfect way to cool off after a morning on the trails. Meanwhile, if you’re feeling extra adventurous, there’s plenty of rock climbing to be had and even treetop adventure courses to try.