This walk takes you down into the Senancole Gorge and past the Abbaye de Senanque. You then use the GR6 & 07 hiking trails to climb out of the gorge and along the ridge, before descending into the neighbouring gorges, where the source of the river Sorgue and the village of Fontaine de Vaucluse is to be found. You will be walking most in forested areas, with birdlife and butterflies in abundance, and fine views of the gorges.
This walk mostly consists of forest tracks roads, with some sections on quiet tarmac roads. There are some steep climbs, and a long, rocky descent after the halfway mark, before you work your way in the cool shade of the busy tourist town of Fontaine de Vaucluse. The underfoot conditions are good, with some rocky sections.
Safety informationThere are some short sections of road-walking today. Take care, especially at bends. The descent into Fountaine de Vaucluse is long and rocky. Take plenty of breaks along the way to rest and refuel.
Tips, hints and links
Food and Drink
Gordes has numerous independent shops including a couple bakeries and a supermarket where you can stock up for the day. All are on or near to the square in front of the castle. There are no facilities en-route during this short walk, other than at the Abbaye de Senanque, should you choose to visit there. On reaching Fontaine de Vaucluse, you will not be short of options for eating as the town caters well for the huge number of visitors it welcomes over the summer months. We recommend always starting your day carrying at least 2 litres of water per person per day, and maybe even more on particulalry warm or longs days. Provence can become very hot and it is important to stay hydrated.
Points of Interest
Senanque is a beautiful and still-working 12th century abbey, tucked into an isolated valley north of Gordes. Famous for its lavender fields, and associated craft industry, it welcomes visitors all year round (reduced hours in the winter months). There is a dress code (it’s a working monastery!) and an entrance fee, but it’s a popular attraction and despite being extremely busy during the summer months, offers an atmosphere of peace and tranquillity.
More details can be found at http://www.senanque.fr - click “English excerpt“ to the right.
Fontaine de Vaucluse
Fontaine-de-Vaucluse ("spring of Vaucluse") is built around a spring in a valley at the foot of the Vaucluse Mountains, not far from L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue. It is named after the spring, the source of the River Sorgue. The fountain, or spring, of Vaucluse, situated at the foot of a steep cliff 230 metres high, is the biggest spring in France. It is also the fifth largest in the world with an annual flow of 630 million cubic metres. The fountain of Vaucluse surges in in March for about 5 weeks, causing regular flooding further downstream, and then subsides. The mechanism behind the surging remains somewhat of a mystery, although the latest theories centre around a subterranean lake, that dramatically swells with snow-melt from Mount Ventoux in early Spring. Other attractions in this pleasant little town, include the castle ruins perched on the cliff, the ancient paper mill (and the associated water-wheels). You may of course simply wish to enjoy a cool drink in one of the many cafes beside the remarkably clear water of the Sorgue River.
The river is ever present in this bustling little town. The original town centre, including its impressive church, is located on a series of islands, with man-made canals and the river itself flowing by on what would seem to be every corner. An evening stroll is highly recommended, while you take time to choose which of the many fine street cafes and restaurants you will dine in later. The antiques trade dominates commerce in Isles-sur-la-Sorgue, and antique lovers and art collectors will be gratified by the nearly 300 permanent antique dealers and second hand shops here, with antiques fairs at Easter and in August doubling the number of traders