The Provence region in the south of France is made for hiking and walking. This picturesque corner of France, known for its lavender fields, hilltop villages, and favorable weather is also dotted with some rugged landscapes, massifs, and gorges that invite exploration.
For Alpenwild hikers in search of an alpine environment and some serious mountain hiking, Ecrins National Park and Queyras Natural Park offer some of the best hiking in France. But if you’re traveling and wanting to explore the more traditional Provençal lower elevation landscapes in Vaucluse and Bouches-du-Rhone, an abundance of easier hiking and walking trails await.
Hiking in the Luberon
Some of the best routes can be found in the Luberon Natural Park, a UNESCO Global Geopark. The Luberon mountain range stretches east to west for 75km and is set between Forcalquier on the east and Cavaillon on the west. The massif is cut in half by the combe of Lourmarin. The highest point on the Luberon is the Mourre Nègre, is located 1,125 meters above sea level.
The Luberon features an extensive network of walking paths and trails, linking villages that are often just a few miles apart. The Luberon is also accessible to hikers and walkers of a variety of skill and fitness levels. There are trails for people of all abilities, including many hikes which are suitable for families with young children.
What to expect while hiking in the Luberon
The area surrounding the Luberon massif is a protected natural park filled with beautiful and often unexpected variety. Walking paths take you through farms, vineyards, orchards and woods, past beautifully-restored homes and simple farm dwellings, into the mountains, through the gorges, and beneath massive cliffs.
The countryside is rich with history as traced throughout many centuries. You may discover prehistoric caves, ancient bories, a Roman oppidium, old mills, 700-year old chapels, and abandoned villages that might never appear in a guidebook written for most tourists.
The views are one of the highlights of hiking in the Luberon, often extending 25 miles or more. From some of the more prominent viewpoints, when the conditions are right, you can see Avignon, the edge of the French Alps to the east, and even the Mediterranean Sea. And in between, there is a panorama of Provence spread at your feet.
Trails in the Luberon are well-maintained and reasonably well-marked. Maps are widely available, and guidebooks in English are available—but plan on purchasing those before you leave for your trip. Be aware that because the Luberon is a limestone massif, trails are often rocky and uneven.
When to Hike
With its generally mild Mediterranean climate you can look forward to favorable weather from April to October. If your plan is to hike in the peak summer months, expect dry, hot weather and take plenty of water.
Recommended guidebooks in English:
Holiday Walks in Provence, by Judith Smith – Includes 30 walks throughout Provence.