Monday, October 18, 2010

Forest of the Cedars

On a previous walk along the bottom of the Petit Luberon, Mom noticed a sign for the Foret des Cedres, which appeared to be on the top of the mountain. We’ve been trying to space out our steep uphill/downhill walks to save Dad’s knees, so we looked at the map and realized that you could drive to the top! A road ending in Bonnieux runs all long the ridge, but we’d thought it was now a pedestrian only trail; however, the car-road does extend to the forest, at which point there is a parking area and lots of nice level walking from there on.

The weather has turned colder, with highs around 60º F and lows in the 40s, which means in the shade and the wind it feels quite cold! We had noticed before that standing out on our terrace is not a good judge of how cold it would be elsewhere, and this morning’s drive proved that even more. We all had jackets but it was very cold on top the ridge! The car thermometer said 7º C (which is like 45º F or so) and the wind was blowing hard. We had packed a picnic lunch but abandoned that idea in a hurry!

A different view of Lacoste, Bonnieux, and Mt. Ventoux
Lacoste from above
Still, we’re a stubborn bunch and it takes a lot to make us turn back once we’ve set our minds on something, so we set out to on out walk. At first it was a little hard to see the forest for the trees… the other kinds of trees, I mean.. ha ha : ) The cedars are imported Moroccan Atlas cedars, which used to be native but had died out. The first ones were replanted here in 1862. They are thriving, and in a few hundred years it will be quite amazing up there! A few big trees are surrounded by lots of younger ones, with all sorts of other trees in the mix.

Alan is still working on his “Walk in the Woods” project (I don’t know that he has named it yet, but that’s what I call it) and gets so immersed that he sometimes forgets to take a few “touristy” photos. I usually remember to borrow the camera for a few shots but I was probably thinking more about getting to the next sheltered patch of sunshine to warm up in! So you’ll just have to imagine a nice big forest with springy needles under foot and big cedars stretching up into the light. One part of the trail was dotted with little shelters made out of branches; there must have been 20 or so, all in different states of completion.

Random shelters

After walking the nature loop and a little ways down the road, we decided to head for home to eat our lunch in the warmth. We had one quick stop to make on the way back; the Tour Philippe was marked with a pink star on our map just off the road, but none of us had though much about it till on the way to the forest we suddenly came around a bend and saw a tall stone tower rise out of the trees. Leaving the car parked by the road, we walked a little ways down a trail to the base of the tower. It’s private property, with a house and a driveway. There is no sign to tell you what the tower is or why someone built it, so I’ll just leave you all to your imaginations once again.

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