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If there is one place on Earth where I feel best, it is in the heart of Luberon. Luberon is a regional natural park located in the south-east of France, in the PACA region (Provence Alpes Côte d'Azur); this park covers an area of 1,747.26 km2 and is full of exceptional flora and fauna as well as a breathtaking heritage. Magnificent typical Provençal villages, classified by one of the most beautiful villages of France are located there. Come with me, I'll take you to discover this fabulous Luberon park.
WHERE TO GO ?
Gordes is a small village perched on a rock in the middle of lavender fields and vineyards. It is one of the most beautiful villages in France.
It has two abbeys, and a castle which unfortunately was not open this summer when I went there due to the Covid 19 restriction.
I wandered through the cobbled streets of this beautiful village and tried to find the hidden paths that give access to majestic viewpoints on Luberon park.
A piece of advice if you wish to have a panorama of the village you just have to leave it and walk along the only road facing it. You will be able to admire the church, the castle, the houses perched on the edge of the precipice, or the prestigious 5-star hotel "La Bastide de Gordes" and its 1-star restaurant.
Roussillon immediately attracted me because of its color palette. Indeed all the walls of the village are covered with ochres, which makes its incomparable charm and what classifies it at the top of my favorite villages.
This village is located in the heart of the biggest ochre deposit in the world (I will tell you later about the ochre path) that the sea left when it retreated millions of years ago. Several quarries were exploited there from the end of the 18th century until 1930 when the exploitation was stopped to let the curious visitors discover the beauty of this red gold.
I went to the heart of the village on the square of the magnificent town hall, which is in my opinion the most beautiful facade of the village, and as usual I went to get lost in the narrow streets of the village. A little advice if you want to admire the view of the Luberon park going up to the top of the village, if you look well and your eyes allow it, you will also discover far away the bald giant, better known as Mont Ventoux.
I stopped for a drink and an ice cream on the high terrace of the restaurant-café L'Ocrier which offers a breathtaking view of the vineyards and the magnificent ochre cliffs.
Obviously, I couldn't go to Roussillon without visiting the ochre path. The old ochre quarry offers us a breathtaking spectacle. The orange and yellow colors are unbelievable, I felt like I was on March. There are two itineraries to do, one shorter than the other. They are trails that are easy to access and faster to do than what is indicated on the flyers.
Likewise I went through the famous Colorado Provençal in Rustrel. Still located in the heart of Luberon, this old quarry is much larger than the one in Roussillon, it was exploited longer, from the end of the 17th century until 1992 and covers more than 30 hectares.
This hill with a thousand colors varies between whites, oranges and reds. The path made us discover the eroded cliffs, or the beautiful fairy chimneys. Even if it is a little more tiring in the summer when the sun is shining, I strongly advise you to take the biggest path that will allow you to get higher to admire the view on the whole site and see how the colors blend in the middle of nature.
Although it is located further north in Provence, on the border of the PACA region and the Rhône-Alpes region, I wanted to include in this article the giant of Provence, Mont Ventoux.
Mont Ventoux is also known as the Bald Mountain due to the clarity of its summit made of stone and void of vegetation. It is therefore located north of Luberon but it is observable from Roussillon as I said earlier. Indeed it overhangs this vast environment because of its size. It is particularly known to be a mythical stage of the Tour de France. This is why my brother Colin and I decided to climb this road, not just by car but by bicycles from the village of Bedoin.
My brother is a road cyclist enthusiast, he is very well trained and makes climbs his speciality. As I'm a complete novice in this field, I was not able to climb this giant with a road bicycles, so I decided to rent an electric bicycles at Route du Ventoux in Bedoin in order to follow my brother, aka, the arrow and reach the top.
If you want to do like me and rent an electric bicycle I strongly recommend this very qualitative bicycle store for both road bicycles and electric bicycles, you can rent them on francebikerentals.com for 50€ a day for an electric bicycles.
So we left for a 20 km climb with an arrival at the top at 1910 m. The ascent is mostly on a road crossing the forest, then comes the moment when the vegetation disappears and lets appear the summit of Mont Ventoux, and the incredible view of the Vaucluse. At the top you have the opportunity to see a sumptuous landscape on the regional natural park of the Provencal Baronnies.
Then we went back down the other side, and went around Mont Ventoux via Malaucène to reach Bedoin. This is an original activity to do if you are passing through Luberon.
Personally, I left from Marseille, to Bedoin about 1h30 drive away via the A7, then Carpentras.
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