Tour of the Plan des Aires on mountain bike
« Proposed by Antoineexperienced local driver, I mistakenly expected an easy route of convenience. But I loved it! The steep coated uphill of the starting point leads to breathtaking views and a single track in the woods ,all dirt and very playful, gives way to a continuation of paths that wind through the fields. At last the final, in the narrow streets of Forcalquier, will bring us directly to the coffee shop.! A treat...» Eric Garnier, Head of Studies for outdoor sports at RNP Luberon.
Notre-Dame-du-Bourguet, a major monument of Forcalquier is known since 1155. Later on, it became co-cathedral along with the Sisteron cathedral. Built, at the foot of the city, as a site both crossroads and a place of ancient market, it may have succeeded to an older building. It was a part of the defence system of the city, one of the doors opening near the porch. The organ, dating back to 1629, is a remarkable instrument used during services and concerts.
Down the road, the Saint-Pancrace chapel was built in the 17th century. and is dedicated to the patron saint of the city. The path opens up before a beautiful oratory of the same era, dedicated to Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours, in memory of the previous church dedicated to Notre-Dame. At the foot of the chapel, a stunning panoramic view of the surrounding landscape and the Forcalquier fortress.
A viewpoint of the Alps
By bike, you will get a feel of the gentle landscape of Forcalquier! Ridgelines of the Luberon to the south and the Alps to the north narrow the views of the distant horizon. The agricultural plain follows the pace of the wooded hill formations, interspersed with villages that constitute strong calling point in the landscape. In the middle of winter (February), while the soft green crops show its face, the contrast with the distant landscape of the Southern Alps sparkling with snow is stunning!
The Miller wheat (variety) of the Luberon
The Miller wheat of Luberon - or Apt has a strange story to it. After almost vanishing, it was found in 1983 in Buoux at a farm and where the farmer gave it to his hens. This wheat is well adapted to poor soils of the region and to droughts. Providing a meal of high quality and easily digestible, the bread made from it was once renowned in the region. The Luberon RNP, Agribio 04, some farmers, millers and bakers have decided to bring back this long-forgotten flour and bread to by the certifying them with the park's brand, so enjoy!
In the Luberon, farmers gather to test new and more sustainable practices. The combination of crops on the same parcel is one of these innovative practices, a true improvement for the future. It involves sowing on the same parcel 2 crops, generally a cereal (wheat, barley) and a legume (bean, lucerne / US: alfalfa).). There are many benefits:: supply in nitrogen, better production, less weeds.
The great mountain bike crossing of the Alpes-Provence
If your legs are still up for it, 300km of pure mountain bike fun awaits you on this big route "The Alpes-Provence!" With an alpine start at the Col de Larche, also known as the Maddalena Pass, then a descent of the Ubaye valley until Lake Serre-Ponçon, you will start by going up a last mountain pass with its mountain lakes and then through the largest European geological reserve, the Pays Dignois, the Durance valley and finally the Lure mountain, the commune of Forcalquier, ending the route in Manosque. No time to get bored!
A lighthouse in the plain
Cedars and the rock compete for attention on the twin hills, respectively dominated by the silhouettes of the Saint Pancrace Chapel and the Forcalquier fortress. The latter, located on a hoodoo (fairy chimney) of which the dome with the golden statue is visible from afar, is a lighthouse signalling Forcalquier within its agricultural plain. The commune continues to carry out a project for upgrading and securing the Fortress, supporter by the Luberon RNP.
Settled in 1627, in the church and the cloister house of Saint-Pierre, one of the four parishes in the city, of which we can still distinguish the roman oculus, the Recollect, Order of Friars Minor (Reformed Franciscans) had an important convent here. It was then transformed into a prison, where they will lock in 1851 the sub-prefect and the police officers rallying behind the coup d'état of Napoleon III against the republican opinion of the inhabitants of Forcalquier.
Back towards the tourist office, go right, pass in front of the Notre-Dame du Bourget gate and weave into the Rue Mercière.
1 - Turn left and then right unto Rue Passère. Continue left unto Rue Violette and Avenue Jean Giono. Ascend unto the road and reach the plateau. At the stop sign, continue to go left, on the 3rd departure route, keep left (direction Charembeau) and reach the summit of Plan des Aires.
2 - Just after two cypresses that mark the entrance to a path, turn left between two sycamores and go down the road in the big field. Down below, go straight unto a wooded path. Leave a ramp to the right and continue the single track in dirt (two beautiful banked corners on the left trace).
3 - Reach the road in front of the hotel Charembeau, go right. Turn right at the 1st intersection and take the next left track. Take a right unto the D216.
4 - Up to a pumping station, turn left and go down the Cléoux track. At the 1st left turn, go across on the edge of the field. Continue a little further down the path to the right of the field. Cross a large cultivated area and then go up a path that passes between two beautiful dry stone walls. Go straight on the path of the Grand Oratory said of Chasseou.
5 - Come out on the D216 and take a right on Rue Paradis. Continue straight on Rue Saint-Pierre, Rue Marius Debout, Rue Grande and Rue Planchud. Then, in the Rue des Cordeliers, turn left on Rue Mercière to return to the starting point, Place du Bourget.
Respect the crops when going into the fields. Beware of blind spots on some intersections.
House of the Luberon Regional Nature Park
60, place Jean Jaurès, 84400 Apt
+33 (0)4 90 04 42 00
In the heart the old town centre of Apt, the House of the Luberon Regional Nature Park welcomes you in a town house of the 18th century. The permanent exhibition of the geology museum has a rich collection of fossils evidencing the geological history of the Luberon.
On sale at the shop: books, maps, guidebooks, games, posters...
Open Monday to Friday from 8:30 am to 12:00 pm and from 1:30 pm to 6 pm (and on Saturday, depending on the program). Free admission.
Access and parking
At 23km north of Manosque, through the D13
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