The Luberon Walking Week
This new trip was offered for the first time in 2019. We’ve wanted to offer a Luberon walking week since we first started European Experiences back in 2006… it finally happened and it was an amazing week! We hope to offer this trip again in 2021 or 2022.
The Luberon is a great destination for a walking vacation. The area surrounding the Luberon mountains is a designated natural park and includes an extensive network of marked footpaths and limited-traffic rural roads, linking ancient villages that are often just a few miles apart.
The countryside is absolutely beautiful with incredible, often unexpected variety. Walking paths pass through farms, vineyards, orchards and woods, past beautifully-restored homes and simple farm dwellings, up on the mountains, through the gorges, alongside massive cliffs.
The area is rich with history and evidence of life from other times, and on foot you’ll discover special places that aren’t in the tourist guidebooks. We’ve come upon prehistoric caves, ancient bories, a Roman oppidium, old mills, 700-year old chapels, and abandoned villages. (For those of you who have been on the Luberon Experience walks to Lacoste and Fort de Buoux, you know the wonderful and unusual surprises to be found in the Luberon countryside.)
The views are breathtaking, often extending 25 miles or more. From various viewpoints, when the conditions are right, you can see Mont Ventoux, Avignon, the edge of the French Alps, Mont St. Victoire, even the Mediterranean Sea. And in between, there is a panorama of Provence spread at your feet.
Our base for this trip is the ancient perched village of Bonnieux, which offers sweeping views across the valley and excellent access to walking possibilities. We have hosted our Luberon groups in Bonnieux since 2006 and have a second home in the village– and we have walked hundreds of miles in the area over the past 15 years. Our experience in the area and our relationships with local people will help make this a very special week.
Kathy will be one of the two walking leaders on every walk. She has extensive experience walking in the Luberon and other areas of Europe (with Charley), including 11 long-distance walks of 60 to 200 miles. She has also written several articles, blog posts, and walking notes on walking in the Luberon, including this extensive article: Walking in the Luberon.
Our fun Australian friends Jonathan and Jenny are our co-leaders for this trip, and one of them will be the second leader on every walk. They live half the year in Bonnieux and are also big hikers. Jonathan and Jenny will also host an “apero” (drinks and heavy hors d’oeuvres) one evening at their restored home inside Bonnieux’s medieval walls.
What to Expect
You’ll need to be in reasonably good shape for this trip, though it’s not necessary to be a super-athlete. We’ll plan hikes of easy to moderate difficulty, perhaps with a challenging short section on a few of the walks. We’ll walk at a moderate pace, and there will be regular breaks… and much to explore along the way. We’re planning on walking five of our six full days; our walks will range from 2-1/2 hours (five miles) to 6 hours max (perhaps 10 miles). We’ll choose our walks based on who’s in the group… there are many possibilities! You can always decide to skip a day. Sometimes we’ll take a picnic lunch, and some walks may end at a restaurant or vineyard.
To learn more about what to expect, read Kathy’s blog post about one of the walks we’re planning for this week: A Morning Walk in the Luberon
On the one day we don’t walk, we’ll rent electric bikes and make a circuit of nearby villages, perhaps with lunch in the village of Goult on the other side of the valley.
We normally expect sunny, mild weather at this time of year… perfect for hiking. But our walks will go as planned– rain, shine or mistral winds.
We’ll provide a detailed packing list for this trip, but you’ll definitely need good hiking boots with a tread that are well-broken in.
Other Activities and Non-Walking Travel Companions
We’re happy for you to bring a non-walking travel companion who will share your room. Charley will organize a special program of activities for these group members, designed based on their previous experience in the Luberon. If you decide not to walk one day, you can participate with Charley’s group, and non-walkers are always welcome to join in for a walk. Some days the walkers and non-walkers will meet up for lunch or another activity together, and we’ll always gather as a group for breakfast and dinner.
In addition to the daily walks and the electric bike day, this trip will include other activities in Provence. We hope to include a truffle hunt and tasting on the south side of the Luberon (great fun!), a game of petanque, and of course at least one outdoor market. With all this walking, we’ll be able to eat extremely well, and we’re planning lunches and dinners at some of our favorite places, including Pierre’s dinner table at our hotel!
We meet travelers at the Avignon TGV station on Saturday afternoon; this is also our drop-off point the following Saturday morning. Many travelers begin or end their stay in France with a few days in Paris. Avignon, Arles, Aix-en-Provence and Marseille are also interesting destinations in Provence, easily reached from Paris on the high-speed TGV train.