As I mentioned in my last couple of blogs we’ve really enjoyed exploring the area on foot this Winter and in turn it has meant we’ve had a very happy dog!
We have managed to discover some new walks, but have also enjoyed treading well-worn paths, like this one that runs from the pretty village of Lagnes across the ridge to the source of the Sorgue river in Fontaine de Vaucluse.
Our first experience of the Luberon was when we stumbled across the Camping La Folie, a small & very friendly campsite on the edge of Lagnes approaching 30 years ago. At the time we thought we’d just be staying for one night, but actually found ourselves packing up with just enough time to drive back to the Ferry. We had fallen ‘head over heels’ for the area and the rest is an ongoing story, so we still have a soft spot for the village & nearby Fontaine de Vaucluse and this walk allows us to visit both.
It starts in the centre of Lagnes, just outside the Mairie & begins by taking you through the narrow streets in the heart of the ancient village around the ruined Chateau, following the red & yellow markers, before leaving the village on a well-made trail that leads up the hill beyond the village.
This trail takes you behind houses, running parallel to the road & gives great views across the Plain towards Cavaillon, the Alpilles and beyond.
It tracks the road and at one point you join it for a very short distance, before leaving again to head further uphill again on a well-worn path, with the regular little red and yellow markers leading the way.
At one point you find yourselves following an ancient trackway, where the rocky surface of the path appears to have been worn away to show the ruts made by ancient cartwheels. I love details such as this, which make you realise that you are just the latest in a long line of people who have followed the same route. For the cart tracks to be so evident they must have used the track for many years and I always wonder what for? ….. Was it for olive farmers, or ‘vignerons’? Perhaps this was simply the ancient path that was used by everyone to move between the villages?
As you notice the cart tracks you will be passing the incredible building of ‘Bastide Rouge’, which stands on the crown of the hill, a beautiful and imposing building on the edge of the woodlands. I understand this may have been a Monastery in the past and I can understand that, with the religious statuary and its solitude.
The route continues on and is still well-marked, following a road again until a signpost directing you off to the right between pine woodland and cherry trees & an olive grove.
By now you have done the climb and the path then takes you down through the pine forest, dropping towards Fontaine de Vaucluse. Here there are signs placed along the path highlighting different things to look for, including the Cicadas….
…. and different animal tracks etc…..
There are also signs of other uses of the area including a derelict old stone building and the remains of a massive circular compound, surrounded by what would have been a considerable dry stone wall, sadly there is no sign to explain what this may have been used for, but its construction would have taken considerable effort, so it would have been an important structure in its time.
Around this area too the forest is criss-crossed with Mountain Bike Trails, with jumps, berms and even what appears to be a ‘road-gap’ at one point. Certainly our youngest fancies exploring it further on his MTB when he brings it over. The trail also forms part of the Grande Traverse VTT de Vaucluse, https://www.provence-a-velo.fr/circuits-vtt/grande-traversee-vtt/offres-102-1.html
which is signposted across the region with the red arrow head & 2 circles seen below.
At the bottom of the trail you turn right onto the main road and within minutes you arrive in the pretty centre of Fontaine de Vaucluse, where you can sit, take the weight off you feet, enjoy a cool (or warm) drink and simply watch the river flow past at one of the many riverside cafes and restaurants.
Like Lagnes we have a soft spot for Fontaine de Vaucluse, which has a much more ‘touristy’ feel to it than many of the other villages. A previous blog has more information on the village and the wonderful legend of the source https://vauclusedreamer.com/2015/03/02/f-fontaine-de-vaucluse/
It is always busy, but we have to take a walk to the source of the Sorgue whenever we visit the area just to see the level of the water in the huge cave, from which the river surges (or more often than not trickles) forth – a visit to Provence wouldn’t be the same without taking a look.
After enjoying a break in the village we then follow the same route back and although the climb back up the track through the woodland is quite steep at first, it levels out quickly and the walk back to Lagnes is an easy trail, offering different views as you walk through.
All in all this lovely walk covers about 9km and is a great one to do either side of lunch, to allow for a nice break in one of the many restaurants in Fontaine de Vaucluse. If I’m honest I wouldn’t want to walk it in the height of the summer heat, but at other times of year it’s a delightful way to pass a day & from our experience if you have a dog they’ll love it too!