Although we always like to think that every day in Provence is warm and sunny, that really isn’t the case. In the last week we’ve had sunshine & blue skies one day…
then heavy snow the next….
before a couple of days of icy wind and a milky sky….
and then today simply leaden skies with rain…
When I threw open the shutters this morning, it really wasn’t screaming at me to put on my layers of lycra and head out on the bike for a ride, so I threw on my jumper, Jean’s, waterproof coat and walking boots and grabbed the dog-lead instead
The joy of having Millie with us here is that we can enjoy walking her around the hills and well-marked tracks that criss-cross the area.Whereas in the summer we have to walk Millie by 6.30, before the heat gets too much for her, at this time of year the weather is perfect for long walks, usually punctuated with a coffee-stop.
Also there is something more reassuring, walking with a dog when Andy’s away for a few days, it’s amazing the deep in-depth chats I can have with a Golden Retriever as we walk, I get so much sorted out and it gives Andy’s ears a bit of a rest for a few days.
So layered up, I drove out to the charming and peaceful hamlet of Les Huguets just above Pont Julien on the road towards Roussillon. This is a very pretty place with its ochre-coloured houses and 2 stunning wisteria-covered terraces, which are just starting to bud now.
From here we walked about 100 yards back up the main road towars Roussillon, before taking a track that forks off to the right, just by a stone house, with lavender-coloured shutters. This first part of the walk climbs up through ochre rocks and vineyards with pretty views across the valley. It’s a peaceful track which accesses just a few houses, so it’s rare that we see even a car.
After a while you reach a ‘security chain’ lying across the trail, just step over it and after a few yards leave the track and follow the marked trail, which continues straight on and across an old ochre rock-bed, which continues on up the hill behind a house.
Here today there was an abundance of wild- orchids under the trees, pushing their way through the carpet of pine-needles. I love seeing there, they are a real herald of Spring and the warmer days to come and appear in shades of purple, through to a pale mauve. Their colours stood out against the background, which is more than can be said for Millie who is always well-camouflaged against the ochre rocks…
Continuing on you follow the trail markings on the trees, eventually dropping down a set of uneven steps, built into a bright red bank, joining the main road into Roussillon.
By the time we got there it was time for coffee, so we ambled into the village, past the market square (with just a handful of stalls today) and into a small and friendly cafe Restaurant Chez Nino, just past the square on the left, which has a pretty terrace overlooking the ochres. Our normal coffee spot at the boulangerie doesn’t allow dogs in, so we squirrelled ourselves away on a comfy seat in the cafe after Millie had charmed the other people already there.
After eyeing up my pain au chocolat, she accepted a dog biscuit from one of the the other customers and laid down, whilst I drank my coffee just listening to the babble of voices around me. Normally I would go out of Roussillon via the Conservatoire des Ocres and old quarries Colourful ochre walk but sometimes it’s good to have a change, so whilst I sat I had a look at the map and planned a different route back, which would bring me into Les Huguets via the back lanes that lead towards Goult
Eventually dragging myself away from the cafe and into the rain, I started off along the Goult Road, taking the little track up to the right that not only cuts off a nasty corner, but also gives you fantastic views back across to Roussillon from an unusual angle …
I really must go back and see it on a brighter day, as the backdrop must be quite stunning. The route then drops back onto the Goult road for a short distance, before turning left and heading down a tarmac road that quickly turns into a sandy trail through the woodland.
At first it took me a few moments to get my sense of direction, before I realised that the village I could see on the hill opposite was Bonnieux.
Wandering through the woodland it was nice to see the early wild Rosemary in flower …
By now the track was well-marked with yellow stripes painted onto the trees …
And directional arrows where the path turned a corner….
Millie was in her element, pottering along the path, rolling in the pine needles and picking up the occasional stick, then she found a deep, muddy puddle and happily lay in it with a huge grin on her face. Clearly she felt she had been far too clean for far too long.
The track emerges from the woodland through lavender fields and vineyards, continuing to wind it’s way down the hill with open views across the Luberon and villages of Bonnieux & Lacoste, which looked beautiful even under the heavy clouds.
The vineyards here are set in the bright ochre soils with the occasional appearance of little stone huts, protecting old wells in the middle of the fields.
All too soon, I turned back onto a tarmac road through led me back into Les Huguets and the car, although by this time I was rather soggy and looking forward to drying out a bit on the way back.
What’s nice now is that we have a couple of routes we can do when we head out for a walk from this little hamlet. Whichever way you go, it’s a lovely walk back from Roussillon and being off the beaten track allows you to enjoy the area at it’s most peaceful.
There are so many benefits to having Millie with us, but the biggest benefit by far, at this time of year, is having the excuse to get out for a long walk to escape the roads and explore somewhere new. We like walking, but sometimes other things take precedence, however when Millie looks at us with her big brown eyes we can’t do anything else than put the walking shoes on and head off.
If you fancy taking a look at the route you can find it here on Strava Circular walk via Roussillon
I wonder where she’ll take us next?