© Bergère Ubaye Maison De La Transhumance (1)

La Routo®

from transhumance trail to hiking

Whether you’re hiking lovers, nature lovers or just adventurers, on the GR®69 La Routo® itinerary, which links the Plain of La Crau in lower Provence to the Alpine Valle Stura in Italy, you can follow in the footsteps of the herds of sheep on used to be the Great summer Transhumance!

Discover the Alpine terroir to the sound of bells!

The GR®69 La Routo® itinerary in your own way

If you are used to day-hikes and love mountain landscapes, hike along 252 kilometres of the most beautiful places in the south of France, following the part of La Routo® which goes through what used to be known as the Basses-Alpes. Set off from Vinon-sur-Verdon in the Var and hike to Saint-Ours in the Alpes de Haute Provence, crossing the old summer migration sheep-tracks which were once followed by the shepherds from the Piedmont valleys. On your journey, you will be guided by the sheep-bells as you hike along the of the Grande Randonnée (GR®) and Petite Randonnée (PR) trails. The most appreciated hiking loops are Draille des Coussouls in the Plaine de La Crau and following in the footsteps of the transhumances in Éguilles.

 

The stages we love

The 13th stage is a colourful stop on the Valensole Plateau between Saint Jurs and Bras d’Asse to observe the Poteau de Telle, the route towards the summer pastures and the changing landscapes which continue our journey. The snowy peaks of the Alps, the almond trees in blossom in March or lavender with its different tones of blue rippling with the golden wheat in July, make each season perfect for an incredible show. Further on along the hiking trail, let it take you on to stages 16 and 17. If you want to know more about local history, the Écomusée in La Javie is worth a visit and is fun for children who can try their hand at writing with a quill or testing grocery scales. A classroom, kitchen, laundry, costumes, agricultural and crafts tools and crafts have been reconstructed here. Between Seyne-les-Alpes and the Vallon du Laverq, the 19th stage is highly appreciated for its fantastic view over the Vallée de la Blanche and the surrounding Alps from the Col de Bernardez, the highest point on the French part of La Routo®.

To discover:

How I left everything behind to set up home in the Southern Alps

 

On the trail, keep your eyes skinned and get your tastebuds ready!

You’ve probably already seen photos of it, but it’s so much more beautiful in real life! The Camargue, the Massif des Alpilles, The Plain of La Crau, the Bléone and Ubaye valleys and the Valensole plateau all offer a collection of postcard views for beauty-lover hikers. There are many protected natural areas along the trail:  the natural regional parks of the Camargue, the Alpilles and the Verdon, the Mercantour national park, the national natural Reserve of Les Coussouls de Crau, the Grand Site Sainte Victoire, the national natural Reserve of Haute-Provence, the UNESCO Geopark of Haute-Provence and the Parco naturale Alpi Marittime. And because walking the trail always works up an appetite, the foodies among you will find the delicacies of the Alpine terroir in some establishments with Italian and French pastoral products including meat and cheese from the local sheep, beef and goat productions, and in particular those with a quality label. And also local seasonal farm products such as olive oil, honey, small spelt, apples from the Alps, almonds, lavender, herbes de Provence and even génépi: so, what will you fall for?

To discover: 

Long live local farm festivals!

The transhumance festival and the fairs, real institutions

Whatever the season,  Provence has a pretty collection of traditional fairs and particularly agricultural ones, with many shepherds. During the famous Fête de la Transhumance, come and watch the ewes walk through the streets of the towns and villages surrounded by their precious partners: nanny and billy goats from the Rove with the most beautiful redon bells and Provencal donkeys pulling the traditional wagon. You can then attend sled-dog and sheep-shearing demonstrations and go around the local produce fair to try some delicious specialities. And you can even bring your faithful four-legged companion with you!

The fairs:

Fête de la Transhumance

  • April: Moulés
  • May: Eguilles, Vinon-sur-Verdon and Saint-Rémy-de-Provence
  • June: Castellane, Riez-la-Romaine
  • August: Le Vernet

Fête des bergers et de la transhumance

  • May: Eyguières
  • December: (1st week-end): Istres

An absolute must : “Les rencontres du Mérinos d’Arles” in Arles

Come and meet a race of sheep bred for lambs and wool – the Mérinos d’Arles in this magnificent town of art and history, listed in the UNESCO world heritage. “Les Rencontres du Mérinos d’Arles ” is an opportunity to discover the many dimensions of pastoral and transhuming breeding, and also some novel products made from Mérinos d’Arles wool. Round tables and film shows are also on the programme. And because transhumance goes with awakened senses, tasting pastoral products will have your mouth watering!

UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur

Transhumance and pastoralism on the hiking circuits

Following in the footsteps of the shepherd and his flock

Shepherd, also known as pastre is the oldest profssion in the world. Guided by their passion, the shepherds orient, encourage, support grazing and look after it. To discover this unique job, you can spend a day in the Alpine pastures and share a friendly moment with breeders and the shepherd and their flocks. In a landscape which has been fashioned by pastoralism for centuries, you’ll learn all about the quality of mountain meat and the shepherd’s work every day. You might even meet a  Patou, the flock’s guard dog… always on the lookout to prevent intrusion.

Pastoral and transhuming breeding, a considerable heritage

In summer, to find food, the flocks leave the plains for the mountains. This is what is known as transhumance. This word comes from the Latin trans (on the other side) and humus (the land, the country). It helps make up for the droughts which occur in summer and turn the meagre pastures of the plains yellow. This form of pastoral life is closely associated with regions with a Mediterranean climate. Sheep-tracks and paths allow the transhuming flocks to move upward and are dotted with fountain-drinking troughs, raised stones, huts and sheepfolds. From one stage of the transhumance to the next, discover the movable heritage with its bells and shepherd’s crooks and also the property heritage with its reference to the sheepfolds and huts, and lastly, the intangible heritage which defines savoir-faire, language, memory and traditions. Both a living and working space and a leisure area, La Routo® is a model of the respectful balance between pastoral practices and nature activities.

Outdoor Activities in Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur

To discover

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