The Luberon Regional Park

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The Luberon Regional Park

The Luberon Regional Park


Situated between the Alps and the Mediterranean, the Luberon Regional Park extends from the Vaucluse to the Alpes de Haute-Provence, on either side of the Luberon massif. Since it was created in 1977, the Park has undertaken work to protect the environment, improve infrastructure and develop appropriate activities. The Park is a member of the worldwide Unesco network of Biosphere Reserves, comprising 460 reserves spread over the five continents, and was recently promoted by Unesco to the rank of a living example of sustainable development. Geology: 130 million years of history. The oldest visible geology in the Luberon dates from the Cretaceous Epoch of the Mesozoic Era, when Provence was covered by sea. A type of rock, named “Aptian” by the French zoologist Alcide d’Orbigny, was laid down a little later at around 110 million years ago. Land gradually emerged and the climate transformed the sand into ochres. The world has few such deposits, but those of Luberon reach 50 metres in height and extend in a band over 25 km. The Luberon massif developed in the Tertiary Era (40 mya), along with the other mountains of Provence, during a phase in the Alpine cycle. Natural environments of remarkable diversity. Mourre-Nègre, the highest point in the Luberon, rises to 1125 m. The summit grasslands offer a profusion of flowers, wild orchids and butterflies and are the lair of the Short-toed Eagle, a bird of prey which only eats reptiles. The garrigue, made up of bushes and herbaceous soft-leaved plants which tolerate lime, is dominated by Kermes Oak and rosemary. Its inhabitants are lizards, shrikes and partridges. Hidden away in the forests of Pubescent Oak and Evergreen Oak are traces of the old charcoal-making sites. The fauna in these oak forests is abundant, with owls, jays and deer, while the cliffs and gorges are the haunt of birds of prey such as Eagle Owls, Golden Eagles and Egyptian Vultures. Rivers are rare, but thunderstorms refresh the species living in this habitat where the flora and fauna are under serious threat. The true architecture of Provence. Dominated by the archetypal dry-stone architecture (huts, terraces, water stores and walls), Luberon divides into villages on the hill-tops and in the plains. You will find 5 communes which are classified among the most beautiful villages in France (Ansouis, Gordes, Lourmarin, Ménerbes and Roussillon). Built beneath a castle or surrounded by ramparts, the hill-top villages reflect the need to protect the population in the early 12th century. The villages built later on the plains (16th c.) are closer to the communication routes. Everywhere you will be struck by the beauty, balance and harmoniousness of the houses and farms. The constraints imposed by the region, the earth and adaptation to the climate gave rise to these simple buildings, to which rooms were added according to need. Common sense and the configuration of the terrain are the guiding principles and these farms blend into the landscape. Agriculture. Rearing goats and sheep is vital to the mountains and foothills: the Luberon is famous for its goats cheeses and local lamb. These activities are naturally associated with honey production and lavender distillation. There is also the collection of truffles, with the Luberon area accounting for some 20% of national production. The light, stony soils of the hillsides have encouraged the cultivation of vines. The Luberon grows _ of all French dessert grapes and three “appellation contrôlée” wines are produced (Côtes du Luberon, Côtes du Ventoux and Côteaux de Pierrevert). Cherries are a major crop, with most being of the Napoléon bigarreau variety (the Kerry Aptunion organisation alone produces between 16 and 20 thousand tonnes per year). The slopes are also excellent sites for the production of the renowned hillside melons (“Goult” and “Cucuron” varieties, associated with Cavaillon. In the plains, olive groves are appearing again. Early fruit and vegetables thrive mainly in the Durance valley, while the Calavon valley, however, only produces seasonal crops.

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