Distance: 48 km Elevation gain: 1,090 m Elevation loss: 1,330 m Starting point: car park in village centre
This section, around the Mourre Nègre, the highest point of the Luberon mountain range, is a delight for those who have the technique and physique to enjoy it. The trail continues through the lush, steep-sided Aiguebrun Valley, a magnificent, area that will be much appreciated in hot weather.
After an unforgiving start, setting off from Vitrolles-en-Luberon, you’ll follow a lovely trail along the wide ridges and pannonic steppes of the Grand Luberon, from where you’ll enjoy panoramic sea views to the south and views of Mont Ventoux to the north. The fittest among you may wish to follow the GR (Long distance footpath) that runs parallel to the bike trail. And if you’ve still got sufficient strength, you can take a short round trip up to the Mourre Nègre (1,125 m), the top of the Grand Luberon, before heading down the north-facing slope, through the young oak forest. The fabulous single-track path is quite narrow and stony in places, so you need to take care. A pretty trail, overlooking Marauvière, will lead you first to Auribeau, and then the vast Plateau de Claparèdes with its lavender fields and dry stone huts. Finally, you’ll reach, Sivergues, a village “at the end of the world,” as described by Henri Bosco.
After Sivergues, you’ll pass through the the lush, steep-sided Aiguebrun Valley, following a stony path which, although bumpy at first, then becomes more forgiving. You’ll ride past magnificent cliffs, popular with rock climbers, and the foot of Buoux Fort. It’s then an arduous climb back up to the plateau to reach Bonnieux with its maze of narrow lanes and alleyways. Here, you’ll change mountain ranges, following a succession of rocky paths and trails up the slopes of the Petit Luberon. It’s a picture postcard route, punctuated by beautiful houses and splendid properties. Finally, you’ll enjoy a lovely single-file descent, over wild and challenging terrain, down to Lauris.