You'll be intoxicated by the rich colours of the landscape, all intensifi ed by the wonderful limpid light. Seventeen shades of ochre were once quarried at Roussillon, from violet through purple to vivid reds, oranges and mellow yellows. Its delicate natural tints were used to wash the local houses. At Fontaine-de-Vaucluse, the emerald-green Sorgue river gushes in torrents from a mysterious subterranean reservoir. Lavender makes a fragrant mauve carpet, green forests cloak the hills, and, in spring, white blossom veils the cherry orchards. And it's all against the backdrop of an azure sky.
The walks are short, with plenty of time for exploring exquisite villages, natural wonders and historic sights. Three of the four hotels have pools in the grounds and the other has a public pool just 50m away. You'll enjoy typical Provencal hospitality and cuisine at them all.
Day 1: Arrive at St Didier
Our hotel is in its own grounds with swimming pool and tennis courts.
Day 2: Rustrel to St Sturnin-les Apt 11km/7mi/3hr
We give you a lift to the starting point in Rustrel, where you can begin the day with an hour-long circuit in the Provencal Colorado, once ochre quarries and now a strange landscape of fantastic shapes and vivid colours. Today's main walk is through classic Provencal countryside where you will see vineyards and cherry orchards, fi g trees and olive groves, and neat plantations of scented lavender.
Day 3: At St Saturnin-les Apt
St Saturnin is one of our favourite villages. It stands on the edge of the Plateau de Vaucluse and boasts a castle, windmill and lots of C18th houses. Visit Apt, which is famous for its crystallised fruits and traditional pottery. It has plenty of shops, cafes and colourful Saturday and Tuesday markets.
Day 4: St Saturnin-les Apt/Roussillon 16km/10mi/4.5hr
The walk today heads south and up through cherry orchards, vineyards and pine forests - a magnifi cent panorama across the Apt plain and the Luberon. After Gargas, you continue through pine forest along blood-red ochre-coloured tracks, then descend in to Roussillon.
Day 5: At Roussillon
Roussillon, one of the most beautiful villages in France, is famous for its streaked ochre cliffs. Visit too the superb perched village of Bonnieux with lots of art galleries, pavement cafes and little restaurants for lunch.
Day 6: Roussillon to Joucas 13km/8mi/3.5hr
Today's walk takes you through the most incredibly beautiful ochre coloured countryside, as you stroll through cherry orchards, vineyards and fi elds ablaze with lavender. After lunch, walking with the striking 'eagle's nest' village of Gordes ahead (lots of time to explore tomorrow), you fi nally turn off north to Joucas - where you'll find a warm welcome at our family-run hotel.
Day 7: At Joucas
This is a great opportunity to explore the picturesque village of Gordes, which clothes the hilltop with wonderfully photogenic houses, terraces and gardens. The village is dominated by its Renaissance cheteau and the streets are crammed with cafes, restaurants and shops.
Day 8: Joucas/Senanque to St Didier 18km/11mi/5.5hr
Lift to the C12th cistercian abbey at Senanque where today's walk begins. Up fi rst through pine and oak forest, then out across the plateau de Vaucluse. Stunning views of Mt Ventoux and the jagged peaks of the Dentelles de Montmirail. Then it's down through cherry orchards back to St Didier for a fi nal swim.
Day 9: Leave Didier