The sublime light and scent of Provence has attracted artists for many years. With each turn, the Luberon Mountains offer a new discovery; 1000 year old perched villages rising spectacularly from the valleys below, many of which are considered the most beautiful in France. Open fields laden with poppies and wildflowers; centuries old stone huts that offer intimate picnic spots and beautiful trails far from the beaten track. From the town of Isle sur la Sorgue, with its antiques and Venice-like canals, your journey will take you through the mysterious springs of Fontaine de Vaucluse, famed villages such as Gordes and Bonnieux. Option to extend your walk into the villages of Saignon with its castles and onto Apt for their famous Saturday morning market.
The walking on this tour is varied: Introductory - Moderate. (Grade 2). Although due to the length of walks and terrain we would classify the tour as more moderate. Note that some trails are quite rough and stony. A reasonable level of fitness and ability on rocky paths is required You need good boots throughout the tour: The trails are generally good, but on occasion there are steep or winding sections of loose limestone shingle. Carry plenty of drinking water and adequate protection against the sun, including a sun hat.
Arrive in the town of Isle sur la Sorgue which is surrounded by the crystal clear waters of the Sorgue River. The town's Sunday market is among the most colourful in Provence with a mixture of antiques, crafts, ceramics and food. Stroll the canals which are boarded by quaint cafes, restaurants and antique shops. Lose yourself among a labyrinth of narrow streets and in the town's warm, Provencal charm. Accommodation: 2 star hotel in a balcony room set on the banks of the Sorgue River. The hotel has a swimming pool and car parking facilities.
A short transfer by taxi will take you to Fontaine de Vaucluse, the mysterious spring that heads the Sorgue River. Through cedar forests you follow a 300 year old mur de la peste: a stone wall built to protect Provence from the 1720 plague. After walking through Cabrieres and its castle, the path leads to Gordes, a town built of majestic grey limestone, rising dramatically out of the valley and crowned by its Renaissance castle.
Accommodation: 3 star 19th century charming house with heated swimming pool, garden and restaurant.
(Small market on Tuesday June - September)
Today's circular walk takes you through thyme-laden fields dotted with old stone huts and down into the Senancole valley. Soon Senanque Abbey will appear: built in 1148, and still in use, the abbey is one of the best conserved Romanesque buildings in France and certainly one of its most magnificent. You will have time to explore the abbey before returning to Gordes via a cobbled path.
Short morning transfer to the village of Goult. Crossing the Calavon Valley you pass the ruins of ancient stone farmhouses before reaching the town of Lacoste. Crowned by the ruins of the castle of the Marquis de Sade, Lacoste offers a stunning ensemble of old village gates and cobbled streets, not to mention the haunting allure of the castle. A great place to have a picnic or lunch in one of the restaurants. You continue to Bonnieux which is another gem of the Luberon, immortalised in Peter Mayle's "A Year in Provence". Visit its beautiful town square and the old cobbled steps leading to its 12th century church.
Accommodation Two nights in a 2 star family run hotel located right in the heart of Bonnieux.
(Friday morning market)
Climbing to the highest reaches of the Luberon mountains you reach its cedar forests. Its dark green canopy providing the perfect shade and shelter for a picnic lunch, and awe-inspiring views extending from the Alps all the way to the Mediterranean Sea. Return to Bonnieux.
The first half of the walk is leisurely along back country roads. Be sure to look back to admire Bonnieux as you leave. On the plateaus you walk through truffle oak plantations and by exquisite stone villas. After the Col du Pointu Pass, you have reached the Grand Luberon. A quaint path through the oak forests leads to the Chateau de Buoux then up to the 12th century Chapelle de Ste. Marie. You walk alongside imposing cliffs before taking a cobbled mule track descending in hairpin turns to the base of the Aiguebrun Valley where you will find your overnight accommodation.
Accommodation: The 2 star Auberge des Seguins at the base of the Aiguebrun Gorge is a breathtaking 17th century goat farm restored and converted into a hotel in harmony with the original buildings. The property boasts no television, wifi or cell phone reception - a lovely escape from modern life where you can enjoy your surroundings.
Transfer after breakfast to Isle sur la Sorgue where arrangements end.
Per Person, Twin Share