The five walks listed are the most beautiful and remarkable in Provence. Many would make a list of the best hikes in France/Europe. Put your walking boots on and enjoy.
All walks selected by Jamie Ivey Provenceguru editor, and author of the Moon Guide to Provence (Autumn 2019)
The Gorges du Verdon is a deep chasm cut in limestone cliffs. In places the gorge is a vertigo-inducing 700m deep. The Sentier L’Imbut takes you deep into the heart of the Gorges following a 9km loop which will take around 5 hours to complete. Along the way you might see one of three species of vultures, and if you are lucky golden eagles. Given the length of the walk and the odd steep descent/ascent, it’s not one for children.
Full details of the walk can be found at: http://www.cheminsdesparcs.fr/pedestre/le-sentier-de-limbut/. The departure point is the Parking Cavaliers on the D71 near the village of Aiguines.
Etang de Vaccares
The Camargue wetland delta at the mouth of the Rhone is a renowned wildlife reserve. Wading birds, including flamingoes adore feeding in the shallow inland seawater lakes that characterise the region. Ornithologists will love the opportunity to spot rare birds and add them to their ‘life lists’. Herds of ‘wild’ white Camargue horses and bulls are plentiful. The Etang de Vaccares is located in the heart of the Camargue. The circular 50km plus two-day hike starts at the La Capeliere nature reserve and takes you all the way around the Etang (inland lake) for a once in a life time opportunity to get up close with the local wildlife. Details of the walk can be found here, along with suggested overnight accommodation: https://www.arlestourisme.com/assets/pdf/pdfs_document/N8_vaccares_2Jours.pdf . Half way around the walk is the town of Sainte Maries de La Mer which is a good place to stay overnight.
GR 98/51 Marseille to Cassis
The Calanques are famed for their clear waters and picturesque pine fringed rocky coves. Unlike the rest of the French Mediterranean coast, they are virtually car free. Access is on foot or by boat only. This makes the 35km stretch between Marseille and Cassis paradise for walkers. Along the way there are great restaurants such as Le Chateau in the Calanque de Sormiou where you can stop and have lunch and rest your weary legs. For lovers of the seaside this walk is a picturesque must. And if the sun gets too hot there are plenty of places to jump in the sea. The departure point is the Calanque Callelongue, on the outskirts of Marseille. Once you arrive in Cassis you will discover one of the prettiest seaside resorts on the Med. It’s the perfect place to stay before the return leg the next day!
Mont Saint Victoire located to the south-east of Aix en Provence is one of the iconic images of Provence. The painter Cezanne was obsessed with the way light reflected off its rocky faces and produced canvas after canvas from different angles and at different times of day. The Sentier Imoucha departs from the Barage Bimont (Beaureceuil) just outside Aix. It takes around 4 to 5 hours to climb the mountain on this circular walk. Route information is available from a kiosk at the Barage parking. The overall distance is approximately 9km. Views as you would expect are sensational.
Sentier des Ocres
This one is for all the family. The circuit of the old ochre mine outside the picturesque village of Roussillon in the Luberon only takes 60 minutes. The path is well trodden and easy. Walkers will experience a landscape like no other. The bright orange ochre, which in places is contorted into fantastical shapes, is a surreal backdrop. As you walk through the pine and rock you can observe up to 20 different shades of ochre. The mining industry here once provided paint pigment to factories across the world. Modern techniques and chemicals put pay to the industry and now tourists get to enjoy the other-worldly landscape.