Distance: 56 km Elevation gain: 1,040 m Elevation loss: 1,120 Starting point: car park in village centre
The route leads riders through the rocky southern slopes of the Petit Luberon then rises abruptly continuing to the majestic viewpoint at Le Portalas, and the mysterious Cedar Forest. This is the last section of the GT VTT (long distance mountain bike trail) and, in typical Provence fashion, finishes with a riot of fragrant scrub, rocky hollows and challenging trails. So take note!
The trail starts with an easy ride, along a wide path, up the southern face of the Petit Luberon. However, the last 100 metres, before you reach Le Portalas (690m) are far from easy, over uneven and challenging terrain. At the top, you can enjoy a spectacular view of the Durance Valley, the Crau de Camargue and the Alpilles. You’ll then cut through the Cedar Forest, with its majestic, one-hundred-year-old trees, a landscape typical of this section of the Provençal trail. After that, you’ll sweep down to the bottom of an unspoiled valley, continuing to the foot of the northern slopes of the Grand Luberon. Here, the vegetation creates a landscape of startling contrasts. Next, you’ll follow a succession of paths and trails, of varying levels of difficulties, into the foothills of the Petit Luberon, continuing until you reach Oppède-le-Vieux, a village steeped in history, and then Maubec.
From Maubec, you’ll quickly reach the medieval villages of Robion, along delightful single track paths, then Les Taillades, cycling alongside the mythical Carpentras Canal. From here, you’ll follow some pretty, windy trails, up the western slope and then the southern side of the Petit Luberon, through a mosaic of spectacular hilltops and deep valleys. A little further up, you’ll reach a succession of limestone plateaux: Le Trou du Rat, Les Mayorques and Saint-Phalez. This scrubland, shaped by man since the Neolithic Period, is characterised by lush valleys and a remarkable variety of wildlife, with exceptional birds, particularly, birds of prey. A final climb and then it’s time for a last dramatic descent along a pretty path, down to the old village of Mérindol, symbol of the persecution of the Waldensians in the Luberon.