One of the first things I fell in love with, when I viewed the house for the first time, was the view from the kitchen window. The Luberon is spread out in front of us with the constant sight of the tower on the highpoint of the Mourre Nègre directly ahead, even during the night, when it’s lit up.
It’s always been a tantalising sight and I know my neighbour’s mother (now in her eighties) still climbs up to it at least once a year to see the view. I had been told that the views are incredible & that on a clear day you can see the Mediterranean beyond Marseille and yesterday turned out to be the day I headed up to see for myself.
Having spent the morning pottering around the markets at L’Isle Sur La Sorgue and Carpentras, I hopped in the car with my eldest & our over-excited dog to drive across to the pretty village of Auribeau from where we could walk to the summit.
Looking at the map before we went you can see a number of footpaths that track upwards through steep valleys towards the tower, but after a rather hair-raising experience a few years ago on a similar walk above Oppède-Le-Vieux we opted for a longer, but potentially less scary route up a forest road, a short distance from the village.
There is a car park just off the road a few hundred metres beyond Auribeau, towards Saignon and the forest road leads away from here.
The gravel track winds on a gentle gradient up the flank of The Luberon, away from the village towards Saint Pierre, a XII Century Fort, and restored Chapel.
From below you can see the Chapel, but once you climb beyond it and look back down to it all you can see is the imposing Tower & fortified wall.
This then becomes a constant sight as you climb, helping to give you some sense of where you are, as the regular hairpin bends and turns in the road can be a bit disorientating.
The climb itself is constant, but the gradient is designed for vehicles, so is easy to manage and soon we found ourselves looking down towards the Fort, which appeared to be the ‘pot of gold’ at the end of its own rainbow.
A beautiful sight, made even better by the fact that we seemed to be just beyond the rain & as such were perfectly dry!
Whilst we climbed we were passed by a couple of trucks, driven by orange-clad hunters, on their way back down the hill with their dogs barking in the back. They were clearly well-used to driving the road but it would appear perhaps that others are less careful, as the rusting remains of this car may suggest.
The higher we got, the more incredible were the views and although there was some cloud you could see beyond Avignon in one direction and had clear sight if the snow-capped Alps in the other.
I can only imagine at the moment how colourful it will look in June when the Lavender Fields below add their distinctive flash of purple to the landscape below.
Mont Ventoux’s summit was shrouded in cloud, but it was nice to spot all the towns & villages we know and love in all directions.
After following the track at a gentle pace for about an hour we reached the top of the Luberon & had our first sight of the sun glinting on the sea at Marseille.
The track continues either straight over and down towards Cucuron or turns left towards the Mourre Nègre tower, so we took that route determined to reach our goal.
Once on top of the Luberon, the views to the South are incredible and just improve as you climb up towards the Tower.
The road eventually peters out and the scrub oaks give way to pine woodland around the Mourre Nègre itself, with warning signs about the abundance of ‘Processionary Caterpillars’.
I know these can be fatal to dogs so Millie (a little tired by this point) didn’t protest at being put on her lead for the final part of the climb through trees where the ‘webby’ Caterpillar nests were clear to see.
The last few hundred metres up to the ‘Telecom’ tower were worth the effort…..
……. And the views from the top were truly astounding, understandable as you are now at a height of 1125m (much higher than both Garlaban & Sainte-Victoire, which dominate the Southern landscape)
The coastline around Marseille towards the Camargue was easy to see, especially with the gleam of the sun on the water.
In the distance we could see the Alpilles and beyond and to the North and East the Alps.
It was certainly worth the climb.
After a short stop we followed the same route back down, enjoying it even more now that we knew the route, although the icy wind straight off the summit of Ventoux was in our faces, making it a chilly walk back.
Just under an hour & a half later we arrived back at the car, with a very tired dog!
All in all the walk to the summit and back taking this route is just under 8 miles or 13km, but it is an easy walk thanks to the forest track and took us approximately 3 hours.
At least now when I look out of our kitchen window I will no longer wonder what the views from the top are like & I am sure it won’t be too long before I pop on my walking shoes and do it all again!