Le Paty Lake
The Ventoux Secret Story Box
Winter is an opportune time to enjoy hiking around Mont-Ventoux, particularly through the northern section, around Malaucène, which lays out a rich and surprising range of heritage works and stunning views beyond its discreet charm. And that’s not forgetting the stories that go with them to be told on the way. Stopping by Le Paty Lake is the icing on the cake, putting the final touch to this cabinet of curiosities which makes this pretty loop interesting from both a natural and historical point of view.
A succession of chapels
From Groseau to Paty, welcome to a path full of crosses and faith
The first stop is as soon as you leave Malaucène where you encounter Notre-Dame-de-Groseau, a wonderful piece of Romanesque architecture. It has two very aesthetically-pleasing chapels grouped together despite having been built one hundred years apart. They are covered in a patch of vegetation and are instilled with the calming atmosphere of a holy place. Higher up you come across the humble Piaud chapel, a modest, unpretentious building with orange-tinged walls, where people came to pray for rain in the 17th century. When you get to halfway at last, this time it’s that of Le Paty, the history of which has been saved from the dust of time and where an explanatory panel opens a door in a hiker’s imagination, instantly bringing the landscape to life and telling its story. It’s an approach which shows the locals’ genuine fondness of the area and its history.
Worth the detour
The Le Paty chapel marks the start of a more local circuit known as the Petit Patrimoine Rural (Little Rural Heritage). It was started by the village of Caromb, and enables a short loop of 4.5 kilometres to be followed where you come across fifteen or so dry stone works, inherited from a time where the land was farmed as far as the eye could see and grazed by herds.
The Le Paty Lake site
Did you know?
The Le Paty Lake dam is one of the outstanding works of its type, considered to be the second oldest large dam in France. It’s also an ecosystem that dragonflies particularly like, where a third of species inventoried in France are found.
Coast over a reservoir of stories and discoveries
Coming back down via the GR® de Pays from the Le Paty chapel, it would be a shame not to stop by the banks of this charming lake that’s beckoning you to take a break. Today set up for leisure activities – from the end of June to the end of August – Le Paty lake is one of those eloquent witnesses of a time not so long ago where water catchment and storage were crucial. The dam and lock that were built there in 1766 and that can still be seen made irrigating the sector all year round possible, thereby enabling Caromb to become a renowned market gardening area – in particular for its Caromb Long Black Fig, which is still emblematic today – well before the Carpentras Canal was opened in 1857.
I’m under the charm of this multifaceted itinerary for good, where there’s a host of fertile landscape parcels. The calm and mildness of winter in Provence are wonderfully fitting for the experience. I am also pleasantly surprised by the amount of curiosities scattered around Le Paty Lake, as well as the efforts made to promote them with orientation boards and signposted itineraries.
– Distance: 17km
– Elevation gain: 600 m
– Duration 5hrs30
– Difficulty: difficult