Hiking in the fresh air in the gorges of Régalon
From shadows to sunlight at the Luberon
Make your way to Mérindol for an athletic and invigorating hike in Vaucluse’s narrowest gorges, those of Régalon. The route consists of a 10 km loop in an unusual canyon at the heart of the Luberon limestone massif, followed by a climb up to the plateau which overlooks the valley. Set out on a journey through time through this natural biological and geological reserve, as you stroll along a trail with two contrasting feels.
In a nutshell
- A relatively athletic hike, unsuitable for children under 6 years and for pushchairs. No dogs allowed.
- The trail can be accessed from the Cheval Blanc heading in the direction of Mérindol (D973). 2 km before Mérindol, turn left towards Tuilère, Gorges de Régalon.
- Be sure to check access authorisation by calling the number indicated at the entrance to the site (access is prohibited if there is any risk of fire), avoid the trail in rainy weather.
- A water point and picnic table are stationed near the carpark, which is also accessible to motorhomes.
En route to the jaw of the massif
The starting point of the hike is located just after the “Logis-Neuf” site, on the RD 973 shortly before Mérindol.
The first 15 minutes of the hike are tranquil, following the edge of a stream and then crossing a vast field of olive trees. As you make your way towards the rocks, the arid land and olive trees against the sky-blue background create an idyllic and typically Provençal scene. As you leave the Mediterranean vegetation behind and follow the small path to the entrance of the gorges, the limestone walls rise up before you. This first part of the hike is serene, accompanied only by the sounds of the wind and birdsong.
After the hike, follow our advice and treat yourself a quick visit to Mérindol to discover the quaint picturesque village 😊
A thousand-year-old canyon intersected by a river.
We now find ourselves the foot of two huge cliff faces, between which lies our path.
An old ruler half buried in the ground reminds us that, a long time ago, marine waters flowed between these walls, continuously eroding the rock. In fact, the floor beneath our feet is actually the bed of an ancient river, strewn with huge blocks of stone. There are also sand deposits here, left by the sea 2 million years ago. The scenery in these deep gorges contrasts greatly with that of the previous landscape, as the blue sky is replaced with darkness, and the air is fresh and cool, mingled with the scents of different minerals. Nevertheless, there is no absence of vegetation in the gorges, which are home to various tree species (huge ivy plants, elderberries, fig trees) with some branches stretching 30 meters high in order to reach the sunlight.
Did you know?
These gorges were formed 6 million years ago during the erosion of the Alps. Later on, the area was completely covered by the sea, which deposited its alluviums there.
A fun and athletic route
A flexible route, with some stability
Some of the rocky passages must be climbed, including one at the end of the route which is a little higher than the others, but by no means insurmountable. The crevices and reliefs in the rock help us to roam without difficulty.
Lovers of climbing, children and teenagers will adore this trail, enchanted by the playful side of the gorges, whose small caves are full of great hiding places!
In some parts of these narrow, cool, and deep passages, it is possible to touch both walls at the same time. We sneak between these weeping walls as we sink a little deeper into the bowels of the massif. The gorge exit is shaded by an arch of giant box trees, Sambucus, nettle trees and Montpellier maples.
Be sure to wear good footwear to avoid slipping on the rocks, which can sometimes get very wet. Water can also stagnate a bit at the bottom of the canyon.
Back to a Provençal setting
A firm favourite
The peaceful farm of the shepherd Roger is an ideal place to make a stop, and with a bit of luck you’ll be able to meet the pastoralist.
After the rocks, we re-encounter a path through the cool undergrowth and the pines whipped by the wind.
Next comes a climb up to a wild landscape which offers a wide view of the surrounding rocky massifs and ridges. The reliefs stand out from the blue sky and in spring, the trees and flowers of the fields give a splash of colour to the landscape. At the cistern, following the plateau des Mayorques takes us through sunny scrubland, then through beautiful meadows and orchards. In certain seasons the place is invaded by sheep, who complete the rural scene. Other surprises await us on this path marked by cairns, like the Kermès oaks standing in a row or the panoramic view of the river Durance at the end of the plateau.
Let us guide you
with summer excursions organised by the “Luberon cœur de Provence” Tourist Office
Discover the Gorges of Régalon: between remarks about the geology, botany, and fauna of the gorges, take the time to admire the magnificent landscapes offered by the site.
Season: From spring to autumn
Avoid thunderstorms and rainy seasons
Access: 35 km South-east of Avignon.
Leave Avignon on the N7 then take the D973 to Cavaillon towards Pertuis.
After the sign for the “Hameau de la roquette”, turn left towards “Gorges du Régalon”.
Parking is available
IGN Map # 3142
>> View the route (fr)
A virtual look at the gorges of Régalon!