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Top 8 walks for a different angle on the Ventoux Regional Nature Reserve

Visible from miles around, the bald summit of Mont Ventoux – the “lighthouse of Provence” – is a genuine landmark. Its welcoming slopes, home to sun-kissed farmland, lavender, and cherry and apricot trees, swathe this rocky gem in a plethora of colours and scents. Welcome to a new adventure!

A walk through Gorges de la Nesque

Head out for a walking adventure around Monieux, a tranquil, authentic village in Vaucluse and genuine paradise for walkers. Located at the entrance to Gorges de la Nesque, this Natura 2000 site nestles at the heart of a plain adorned with spelt and lavender fields. The 3-hour loop, covering 8.8 km, is reserved for seasoned walkers keen to make friends with this magnificent wild canyon, undoubtedly one of Provence’s most original and precious sites. Crossing deep, humid valleys, flowering meadows, garrigue and ancient forests, the route is a genuine feast for the eyes, lined with tumbling scree, caves and cliffs… Don’t miss a stop-off at the extraordinary Troglodyte chapel of Saint-Michel de Anesca – a 12th-century medieval treasure that promises to inspire.

Venture onto the Sentiers de Grande Randonnée® long-distance trails

The GR® de Pays long-distance trails running through Vaucluse span around 1,200 km. Opt for one of the 5 trails on offer around Mont Ventoux – for example the GR® de Pays Massif du Ventoux – promising a full immersion in the giant’s den… This particular trail won the title of France’s 2nd favourite long-distance trail in 2022. Its altitude, varied slopes and biogeographical location, isolated from the rest of the Alpine chain, make it a genuine world apart. Here, the southern warbler and ocellated lizard, ideally adapted to the dry Mediterranean climate, rub shoulders with Tengmalm’s owl and Greenland poppies that thrive in mountainous regions.

Discover the wildlife of Ventoux

Head out for an adventure in the footsteps of Mont Ventoux’s rich wildlife in Aurel, home to an interpretation trail where stags, chamois and even mouflons roam. Stop off at the treetop hide, offering magnificent views over Lure mountain and the Pays de Sault area. You can explore the 2-km trail at night too; at dusk, you can hear the stags bellowing if you’re quiet and stay at a good distance. You’ll find lots of Land Art here: a genuine feast for the senses combining contemporary art with organic materials and natural settings. Recharge your batteries with some local treats savoured in one of the picnic areas.

Head to the “Jardin Singulier” in Toulourenc Valley

Nestling at the heart of Toulourenc valley, on the northern face of Mont Ventoux, the “Jardin Singulier” is located on the road to Vaison-la-Romaine, on the bend just before St-Léger-du-Ventoux . The mud track lined with works of art and grazing animals leads to an ancient, fully-refurbished forest house, offering visitors and especially rock climbers a warm welcome. The modest entry fee serves to maintain the site, and bicycles are available to take you to the start of the climbing routes. You’ll also find a bookshop there featuring no less than 2,000 works focusing on nature and sport, plus a restaurant serving excellent produce grown on site, exhibitions, botanical footpaths, Land Art and a refreshment stand. The “Jardin Singulier” is the starting point for various trails on the themes of botany, geology, art and nature run by the Association Toulourenc Horizons, inviting walkers to discover this gorgeous, wild valley. Welcome to a world of activities!

Cooling off at the Groseau spring and forest

Let’s head to Source du Groseau in Malaucène, a pretty village complete with an ancient fort, set inside a Sensitive Natural Area. In the 14th century, Malaucène was home to the summer residence of Pope Clement V in the shape of Notre-Dame du Groseau abbey, located downstream from the spring. The Pope nicknamed his retreat “the garden of my delights”. The walk leads to the Groseau natural spring then climbs up through the forest. Downstream from the spring , on the same cliff, you’ll find a geological curiosity called “La Porte Saint-Jean”. Worshipped since Antiquity, through the Gallic god Groselos, it formerly supplied the town of Vaison-la-Romaine thanks to an aqueduct. The forest is home to magnificent wildlife such as the Treecreeper, a pretty passerine bird with a curved beak, who likes to forage in tree trunks. The Sardinian warbler lives in the thickets and is characterized by its black head. Keep your eyes peeled too for superb white snake-eagles flying majestically above in search of… little snakes!

How about a Tour du Ventoux by bike?

The Tour du Ventoux bike tour spans 128 kilometres and is ideal if you’re travelling with 2 or 3 cycling companions. And of course, electrically-assisted bike owners get to enjoy the scenery minus the aching legs! A genuine homage to the mythical mount, this delightful tour bursting with Provencal charm snakes along winding roads between hilltop villages, lavender fields and illustrious vineyards. Gaze in wonder at the magnificent views over Mont Ventoux, the impressive ragged peaks of the Dentelles de Montmirail, spectacular Gorges de la Nesque and wild valley of Toulourenc. And after a few days admiring the base of the mount, you’ll no doubt be tempted to tackle the legendary ascent… Bonne chance!

Delve into the wide open spaces and villages of Pays de Sault

The white mineral landscapes of the Pays de Sault area bask at the heart of a mosaic of lavender, spelt and wheat fields. The area’s temperate climate, sheltered from the sweltering summer heat and gusting Mistral wind, is a sheer delight. Pays de Sault is home to six villages: Monieux, Sault, Aurel, Saint-Trinit, Saint-Christol and Ferrassières. Don’t miss the local treasures, including the medieval church and chapel, remains of a fortress, a Renaissance château and typical old façades… The local chefs pamper summer visitors with tasty specialities such as spelt salad, goat cheese with savory and lamb roasted with herbs or even lavender… A real treat for the tastebuds. Wind up your tour with an after-lunch digestive stroll among the veteran oak trees of Bois du Défends, a reserve formerly owned by the local seigneurs…

A voyage back in time in the hilltop villages

The Mont Ventoux Regional Nature Reserve is home to 11 hilltop villages, some of which, like Aurel just next to Sault, are particularly beautiful. Built on a rocky outcrop, the village pans out around an ancient church and 12th-century chateau, offering a balcony over Provence and its lavender fields. This was also a favourite haunt for painters such as René Seyssaud, Pierre Ambrogiani and Jean Dries, who all set up there easels here. Brantes, in Toulourenc valley, features a maze of steep, medieval lanes leading up to its ruined feudal castle. A genuine open-air artists’ residency, the village welcomes numerous ceramists, potters and “santon” figurine makers. Venasque, ranked “One of France’s Most Beautiful Villages”, flaunts magnificent panoramic vistas over Mont Ventoux, the Dentelles de Montmirail and plain below. Méthamis, nestling in Nesque gorge facing Mont Ventoux, is home to an exceptional rock climbing venue: Falaise du Devens.

Natural spaces differently