©Marité Draa

4 magnificent walks in the nature reserves of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur

A land of countless contrasts that never fails to delight, the unique Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region promises never-ending changes of scenery between sea and mountain. Enjoy a stroll through its wild, peaceful scenery as you delve into nature’s secrets!

A stroll under the watchful gaze of Sainte-Victoire mountain

This majestic Sainte-Victoire mountain – an official “Grand Site de France” flanked by impressive white limestone cliffs – stands proudly over Vallée de l’Arc. Head out to meet Cézanne’s mineral muse with the “Dans l’esprit de Sainte-Victoire” eco-tour in Fuveau. Panning out 90 km under the mount’s impressive silhouette, the walk – an ode to Provence’s colourful scenery and lifestyle – crosses the villages of Fuveau, Peynier, Trets, Gréasque, Mimet, Gardanne and Meyreuil. Stop off to chat with the local inhabitants, artisans, and cheese, honey, saffron and cereal producers. The plain stretching from East to West unveils a breathtaking array of Provencal countryside. And in the distance lies Cengle plateau, like a giant pedestal adorned with vines. The perfect pic!

Discover the flora and fauna of Plaine de la Crau

Free as a bird… Venture onto the beautiful “Peau de Meau” trail at the heart of the Coussouls de Crau reserve: a protected natural area just a stone’s throw from Camargue. This 5 km trail dotted with information panels offers a wonderful introduction to the natural riches and traditions of a Mediterranean steppe unique in France, habouring fascinating geological formations, rare and protected fauna, gorgeous flora and a history closely tied to that of pastoralism over the centuries. Stop off at the Maison de la Crau in Saint-Martin-de-Crau to pick up an authorization so you can enjoy your walk to the full. Pause awhile at the Peau de Meau hide to admire the plethora of steppe birds – the pin-tailed sandgrouse, little bustard and lesser kestrel to name but a few – that come to nest or feed at La Crau in summer. The site is also home to one of France’s largest populations of ocellated lizards…

Venture into the underwoods in Vaucluse

Get back in touch with nature under a benevolent canopy of veteran cedar trees at the magnificent Forêt des Cèdres du Petit Luberon. An incredible view awaits you at the Portalas belvedere, gazing out peacefully over the lower Durance valley. You’ll find another refreshing haven of peace at Malaucène in the shape of Forêt du Groseau forest, home to a natural spring of the same name. Climb along the top of the ancient gypsum quarries amid typical mountain scenery – you might be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a passerine bird foraging at the foot of the trees. The forest of Venasque Saint-Didier also offers a great choice of walking trails dotted with picnic areas; who could say no to lunch in the company of green and white oaks, Aleppo pines and blue cedars?! Make the most of your break to admire the snow-capped Mont Ventoux in the distance and the vines and cherry trees of Vaucluse. Sivergues forest pans out around a hilltop village in the Pays d’Apt area. Woodcocks and black-capped warblers – whose song closely resembles that of the nightingale or blackbird – rub shoulders among its high cliffs and large white oaks. Keep your eyes peeled for the many butterfly species that thrive here too, such as the rare Apollo butterfly with its straw-yellow wings and black and red spots.

Tree-spotting at the Arboretum Départemental de Beauregard

Nestling on the banks of the Ouvèze rover, the Arboretum de Beauregard in Jonquières promises yet another fabulous change of scenery. This 10-acre site offers a wonderful deep dive into Provence’s typical plant species and the vital role played by plants, shrubs and trees in our regional landscapes. For example, the riverside forest slows down flooding, depollutes water and offers a safe haven for the many animal species that live there. The arboretum’s many olive varieties – similar only in appearance – are an ode to holidays and summer sunshine. What’s more, they all have a job to do, whether fighting winds, frost or even parasites. Make the most of your visit to learn all about Odonata and Zygoptera too – aka dragonflies!