Montagne de LureMontagne de Lure
©Champs de lavandes et Montagne de Lure|THIBAUT VERGOZ
Lure Moutain

Lure Mountain

Located in the department of Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, the Lure mountain stands out from the line of high peaks of the Southern Alps. It dominates the Forcalquier area, the east of the Luberon and a part of these lands of Haute-Provence so dear to Jean Giono. Classified as a biosphere reserve by the UNESCO, the Lure mountain is also a great playground for nature lovers.

An exceptional natural site

Located at 1,825 meters above sea level, this emblematic summit of the Préalpes of Haute-Provence belongs to the same geological formation as the Albion plateau and the famous Mont Ventoux. Subjected to alpine and Mediterranean influences, it hosts a unique fauna and flora and a great diversity of landscapes.

Entomologists can observe on this classified and protected site many important insect species. There are many butterflies and also eastern eggars, large blues, and the Sphinx tityus. Grasshoppers are also very present on the site, as well as beetles.

Walkers can also admire red deers, chamois, roe deers and even wolves. Reptiles, including the meadow viper, also thrive in clearings, meadows and alpine lawns. The sky is the kingdom of birds: shaheen falcon, Eurasian eagle-owl, boreal owl, golden eagles, booted eagles, short-toed snake eagles, harriers. They share their kingdom with more discreet, but equally precious species: Merops apiaster, common rock thrush, little ringed plover, Dryocopus martius and numerous bats. You can enjoy a hike on Montagne de Lure for birdwatching.

The flora is exceptional there, in the forest, in the meadows or altitude pastures. Granny’s bonnet, an endemic species of the Préalpes, blooms in the scree slopes below the summit ridge. You can also admire some specimens of Spanish juniper, a tree endemic to some places in the Mediterranean basin and threatened with extinction.

Hikes in the Lure Mountain

Numerous trails criss-cross the Lure mountain and offer a great deal of itineraries for hiking enthusiasts or experienced hikers. For example, you can follow the paths between Ongles and Lardiers, which pass near the abandoned village of Vière, or leave the village of Saumane to go to the Bergeries du Contras (Contras sheepfolds). The ridge offers magnificent panoramas over the area of Forcalquier, the Luberon, the Durance valley and the peaks of the Southern Alps. The pas de la Graille, a pass located a few kilometers away from the Signal de Lure, is also a privileged starting point for hikers.

The GR® 6 long-distance hiking trail will take you to the summit from Sisteron. You can also take the GR® de Pays which allows you to hike around the Lure mountain in 5 or 6 days. The GR® 653 and the GR® 946 also wind through the valleys and forests of the Pays de Lure.

Adapted equipment is required to enjoy this mountain area. Wear hiking boots and take water with you, as the climate can be hot and dry in summer. You can also discover the local fauna and flora with a guide or get the IGN 3341OT map to discover all the marked trails.

Outdoor activites

Hiking is not the only outdoor activity you can enjoy at the Lure Mountain.

Moutain biking up the Lure mountain is often part of the Paris-Nice race program. This demanding itinerary is only adapted to the seasoned cyclists. Starting from Saint-Étienne-les-Orgues, you will have to face 1,082 meters of difference in altitude over a distance of 18 kilometers, for an average slope of 6%. From Valbelle, the route is longer and the climb is less steep: a 25-kilometer ascent and 1,140 meters of difference in altitude for an average slope of 4,56%.

Many paths are suitable for mountain biking. Some trails wind under trees, in the shade of deciduous or coniferous trees, while others evolve in the heart of open landscapes, clearings or alpine lawns, revealing a sumptuous landscape. You can rent a mountain bike or an electric bike at the Lure station, where there is also a discovery course with footbridges and bumps for children.

Numerous other activities and outdoor sports are offered on site or in the surrounding area. Several equestrian centers offer horseback riding for beginners or experienced riders. Thrill-seekers will be able to try paragliding or hot-air balloon. Caves and sinkhole, dug in the limestone rocks, attract speleologists.

You can also observe the stars at to the Astronomical Society of Lure, which organizes nights of observation of the stars at the Marc Bianchi Observatory. The sky is free of air and light pollution which makes it perfect for star observation.

The mountain in winter

On the southern slope, the resort of Lure was one of the first historical ski resorts for the Provencal people who came to learn winter sports. Between 1,600 and 1,850 meters of altitude, the ski area includes a ski lift with a green slope, a 105-meter carpet lift giving access to a play area, a rope tow giving access to the learning area, as well as a secured sledge area and a downhill slope that you can go down on inflatable buoys whether there is snow or not. Ski lessons are also available during the season.

Marked snowshoe itineraries are accessible from the resort. The slopes of the Lure mountain also allow the practice of ski touring, under the sun of the south of France.

A remarkable heritage

Men have taken possession of the welcoming slopes of the Lure mountain since prehistoric times. Saint-Etienne-des-Orgues, on the southern slope, welcomes you for a stop at the terrace of a café, in the shade of hundred-year-old plane trees. You can also stroll through the winding and picturesque streets of the small village of Cruis. Located on a south-facing slope, the abbey of Lure seduces visitors with its abbey palace dating from the XVIIth and XVIIIth centuries and its tall beech tree park.

Further south, the county town of Forcalquier dominated by the ruins of its ancient citadel has preserved from its prestigious and prosperous past a remarkable architectural heritage. To the southwest, Banon nestles in the heart of sumptuous landscapes and has an authentic charm.

To the north of the Lure mountain, the Jabron valley is wilder and includes small villages and hamlets. It holds some treasures such as the chapel Saint-Pons de Valbelle hanging above the void. The Jabron flows into the Durance River downstream from the town of Sisteron, famous for its citadel with its vertiginous ramparts.

Practical information

From Aix-en-Provence, you can take the A51 freeway to exit 19 (Oraison, Forcalquier) toward Forcalquier and then Saint-Étienne-les-Orgues. The departmental road 113 then allows you to reach the top of the Lure mountain from the south side.

From Gap, take the A51 freeway to Sisteron and take exit 22 (Vallée du Jabron) toward Vallée du Jabron and then take the D946 departmental road. An intersection on the left signposted Valbelle, Saint-Étienne-les-Orgues and Col du Pas de la Graille gives access to the summit from the north side.

Are you looking for accommodation or activity ideas? The Tourist Office of the Pays de Forcalquier, Haute Provence Tourism, offers you a lot of information to organize your stay: bed and breakfast, campsites, hotels, vacation rentals, seasonal rentals…