1 1/2hour walk, distance: 6.5 km – Easy. 170 meter altitude change. Leave from the parking lot at the château de Saumane. Dales with orchards, oak trees, troglodyte dwellings and the château of the Marquis de Sade. Short walk around Saumane-de-Vaucluse. The picturesque village of Saumane (in Latin, the name means peak, or female donkey) is a hilltop village built on a rock, with winding cobblestone streets and beautiful stone homes, overlooking the Sorgues area.
This hike winds around a "restanque" (terraced field) prior to reaching the valley and continuing along a stream. As of the 13th century, farmers had prepared terraced fields in the slopes. The valley bottom drained the rainwater which irrigated vegetable gardens. The sloping terraced fields were used for crops requiring little to no water, such as vineyards, olive groves, and almond trees. Small stone huts known as bories were built from the cleared stone, and used to store tools. The trail continues through oak stands then there is a cobblestone path which leads directly to the troglodyte dwellings at Marcouly. The trail goes around a rock and leads to a limestone slab where there is a beautiful view over the village of Saumane.
Further along, at the farm "les Fayardes", the cliff overlooks the swallowhole at Fontaine de Vaucluse, the source of the Sorgue river. These highlands were once used to grow grains, and were rotated for grazing. Here you can see other bories which were used for many purposes - by the shepherds, to store harvest, to shelter the animals. The "draille" - a wide stone path used to drive the animals, leads you to the village via the Beringuier valley, where you reach the château de Saumane, former residence of the Marquis de Sade, part of which is now a self-catering accommodation and a venue for cultural events.
Excerpted from the "Topoguide de Balades à pied - Tourism Office of the Pays de Sorgues www.oti-delasorgue.fr