Today was the day I let a lovely local lass lead me up to the top of the Luberon mountain; a great hulk of prehistoric rock whose mood and colour changes on the whim of the sun: a 60 kilometre-long kaleidoscope.
On a hearty breakfast of almost half a croissant we set off on a stony path from Oppede-le-vieux. White cliffs close in immediately on either side. These looming walls of limestone are studded with caves and at one point a perfect hole (‘the pierced rock’), shaped by both wind and water.
For yes, this is one of those crazy places that geologists would have you believe was once entirely submerged, and that giant aquatic monsters cruised these caves before becoming unfortunately embedded as fossils. The Luberon chain of mountains first popped up around 35 million years ago, though it’s a mere 8 million years since the sea made her final retreat and the Luberon became what we see today.
Hard to fathom as we climb the 2000 feet to the top. For a townie like me it’s a struggle and I take every opportunity to admire the view or a resting cricket while surreptitiously catching my breath.
The Luberon is like a garden wall for our sheltered valley – once at the top we are dizzingly exposed – in the distance les Alpilles, l’Etang de Berre de Marseilles, the Mediterranean herself, Corsica, Africa…the feeling of adventure is undeniable.
Wild rosemary, box and thyme give way to tall pines in whose shade we drink rosé and plan the next ‘randonnée’, though back down in the valley I’m not sure I don’t prefer my view of the mountain from our garden, gin and tonic welded to my hand.
A cleft in the Luberon mountain on the walk from Oppede-le-vieux: