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Guide to hiking in Provence

Walking through lavender fields in Provence

Vaucluse in Provence is a superb area for hiking. Footpaths and hiking trails weave their way past orchards, vineyards, lavender fields and wild-flower meadows. There are hills for those who want to be challenged, glorious countryside with gentle trails and lovely villages to explore for those who like to enjoy the walking in a more relaxed way. It’s an ideal way to discover the wonderful natural beauty and charms of Provence.

There is a network of well-structured walking routes, created with a green and sustainable ethos and supported with practical services, it’s a well-balanced way to discover this most beautiful region while protecting the environment.

Hiking highlights of Provence

Regional natural parks, biosphere reserves, geological reserves and sensitive natural areas, from Mont-Ventoux to the Luberon passing through the Vaucluse Mountains, Pays des Sorgues and the Comtat Plain, Vaucluse is a land of outstanding natural beauty. The region is an ideal destination for anyone who appreciate authenticity, life in the slow lane and veering off the beaten track. Enjoy slow tourism along the signposted footpaths that wind and wend across a Provence that still has many surprises in store – despite its fame. Here, the “rambling spirit” is alive and well.

Traces of the past are revealed everywhere you look. Ancient stones hold long-ago memories from historic towns to the bories (dry stone huts) scattered across fields. Exploring Vaucluse on foot is an opportunity to meet the people who work the land and taste the local products you will find on your journey.

Numerous walking trails in Provence

There are numerous hiking routes across the whole department, Spread across the four main areas of Vaucluse – Luberon, Ventoux, Rhône Valley and Avignon and surroundings. There are five GR® (Grandes Randonnées), 12 GR® de Pays (Grandes Randonnées de Pays) and just under 1,800 km of PR® (Promenades et Randonnées) trails. The routes marked and maintained by FFRandonnée Vaucluse and the Syndicat Mixte des Forêts (forests’ joint association).

These trails weave a vast web of walks and hikes across the mountains in Vaucluse, from the Dentelles de Montmirail to southern Luberon. And if you don’t have a car, the Vaucluse tourist office provides details of bus and train itineraries to the starting points. The best time for hiking is generally spring and autumn as summers can be hot. But there are some trails that are great all year-round. It’s hard to pick from such a wide choice, but here are just a few of some of our favourite walking trails in Provence.

Historic Avignon

Pont d'Avignon on a misty morning

After you’ve soaked up the jaw-dropping views from St Bénézet bridge and the Palais des Papes, take a gentle hike along the great Rhone river from the heart of the historic Papal city of Avignon. At its best in spring and autumn, it’s a great way to enjoy the countryside around the city. Find details at: provenceguide.co.uk/hiking/avignon

Wine lovers favourite Châteauneuf-du-Pape

Châteauneuf-du-Pape is famous for its heavenly wines, but this lovely little village also has a fabulous walking trail. It takes you past vineyards and alongside the Rhone river. And it meanders through the fragrant garrigue, the wild scrubland in which the herbs of Provence thrive. Pop to the tourist office for the starting point and find details here: provenceguide.co.uk/hiking/chateauneuf-du-pape

Majestic Mont-Ventoux

Hikers with a view of Mont Ventoux, Provence

For those who love to hike, the 9-day (6miles per day), or 5-day (12 miles per day) a well-signposted hiking tour takes you through the Mont-Ventoux Regional Nature Park. The walk takes in the Piedmont slope of the majestic mountain Ventoux, nicknamed the Giant of Provence. You’ll have the chance to explore the wild valleys and beautiful perched villages as the track criss-crosses the peaceful countryside. And there’s plenty of opportunity to try the local products, stop off at markets, and picnics in the most idyllic countryside. You’ll follow a route that will reveal the astonishing variety in the landscape, the vineyards, heritage and beauties of Provence.

It’s a great hike any time of the year. Find details: provenceguide.co.uk/hiking/montventoux

Discover the wild side of the Luberon

Get off the beaten track and take to the rocky trail in the Luberon Regional Nature Park. Start your journey in Lagnes (there’s parking in front of the town hall) and discover a rather secret and wild area of Provence. Trek through shady forests of oak and cedar trees and discover a pocket of peace and tranquility. And enjoy magnificent valley views on this get away from it all walk on the wild side of Provence.

Details: provenceguide.co.uk/hiking/Lagnes

Find details of hiking routes and everything you need to know about visiting Vaucluse at: provenceguide.co.uk

Article by Janine Marsh, Editor of www.thegoodlifefrance.com

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