If you want to be outdoors in the Luberon (Vaucluse department of Provence), visit La Forêt des Cèdres (yes, a cedar forest), which has excellent views and trails, including one that is wheelchair accessible, just 9 kilometres from Bonnieux.
La Forêt des Cèdres (Bonnieux)
While you might just think, “It’s just a forest”, this is a place that’s peaceful and provides trails for walking, hiking, and panoramic views of the area. So once you’ve visited Bonnieux, Lacoste, or some of the other tourist attractions in the area, head here for some peace and quiet, and cooler temperatures.
La Forêt des Cèdres is located in the Petit Luberon, a smaller area within the Luberon region with an elevation of 727 metres (2385 feet). Seeds from the Algerian Atlas were planted here in 1861 and while it is called a forest, this plateau is a designated “espace nature sensible”.
Covering approximately 250 hectares the forest is part of the European Union’s Natura 2000 network making it a protected natural area. In addition to trees and forests, there is scrubland, steep cliffs and pastures.
Stay Away From The Sheep And Goats
The Luberon pastures in this area are frequented by shepherds who want their flocks of sheep and goats to graze in the area. There are warning signs telling visitors not to disturb the herds. You’re told, “Don’t be stupid!”, “Respect them!”, and “stay away and avoid making noise or abrupt gestures”. Animals rule here!
Trails At The Cedar Forest
This a very well maintained forest. I even came upon 2 rangers when I was there who were available to give advice (including information about the risk of forest fires). As you can see from the photos, most of the trails are relatively cleared and flat. They are also well marked. It’s especially ideal for families.
At Le Portalas, you can get panoramic views of the Val de Durance from the cliffs. I took some risks and did climb some difficult, steep rocks but I was careful.
Choice Of Four Trails
Chemin des Cèdres (Blue trail)
- Wheelchair accessible
- Distance: 1.5 km
- Time: 30 minutes
Sentier du Portalas (Yellow trail)
- Distance: 3 km
- Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Bois de Roustan (Green trail)
- Distance: 3.8 km
- Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Le Portalas (Red trail)
- This is the trail I took. It has panoramic views
- Distance: 2.8 km
- Time: 1 hour (return)
Advice About Visiting
- Free entrance.
- While you could hike up to La Forêt from Bonnieux (takes about 2 hours), you can drive there. There is free parking where the trails begin.
- Part of the forest is fine for those with reduced mobility or if you have a wheelchair or stroller.
- There are no public toilets.
- While the area is shaded (lots of trees), there are areas that have no shading, so be sure to wear sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses. Wear decent walking/trail/hiking shoes and bring along water and bug repellant as you’re deep in the woods and will likely encounter mosquitoes. On a really hot day, it will certainly feel cooler here.
- Give yourself at least 2 hours to visit the area, depending which trail you take. You might consider having a picnic while you’re there.
How To Get To La Forêt des Cèdres
The forest is accessed from Bonnieux as you head to Lourmarin. It’s about 9 kilometres away and is about a 20 minute drive. Route from Bonnieux:
- Head southeast on D36.
- Take the D3 towards Apt/Buoux/Roussillon/Lourmarin.
- D3A towards Lourmarin/Pertuis/Buoux.
- Follow D36 (Cours Elzéar Pin).
- Then turn right on Chemin de la Forêt.
Other Lovely Walks And Hikes In France
If hiking or taking leisurely walks in France interest you, consider these routes as well:
- Brocéliande Forest in Brittany
- Le Colorado Provencal near Roussillon
- Fourvière Hill In Lyon
- Walk To See The Cliffs At Etretat
- The Van Gogh Route In Arles
- Hiking The 3 Calanques Near Cassis
- Hiking In the French Alps
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