Walking and cycling
The "sentier de découverte"
This path was waymarked by the pupils and teachers of the village school with the help of the local ranger. It gives some insight into the Mediterranean vegetation, and shows the traces left in the landscape by men and women who lived and worked there. The path begins near the sports ground. It is marked with green arrows on wooden posts, and there are many explanatory signs
The "sentier des citernes"
Until recently people were living and working in the mountains, pricipally as shepherds and woodcutters. In order to survive they needed water, which is very scarce in this arid limestone region. so they built stone water tanks in strategic places to catch and store rain water. This path takes you to most of these, amidst a landscape of hills and gullies. There are two departure points, one in the village itself, the other 2 km up the D1 road towards Sault.
a wild flower in the woods above the village
"The sentier des charbonnières"
Villes-sur-Auzon's forests used to be exploited for making charcoal. The charcoal burners lived in the mountains, cutting wood which was then stacked and covered with earth and leaves so that it would burn slowly and become charcoal. The combustion lasted several days and required constant attention to prevent the wood from going up in flames, so there was nearly always a hut built nearby. This path takes you to about twenty charcoal-burning sites, all of them set in wonderful scenery. The path starts 8 km from the village on the D1 road towards Sault.
the Nesque gorges seen from the sentier des charbonnières
These two paths are described in the guide book Le Pays du Ventoux à Pied published by the Fédération Française de Randonnée Pédestre.
There are many other possibilities for hiking around Villes-sur-Auzon. Here are just a three suggestions
The mountain path from Villes to Methamis
Follow the Nesque road for about 500m. At a bend (yellow signpost marked "Réganeou"), turn right down a small road, and immediately take the path on the left and follow the red and white marks to Methamis. There are beautiful view points over the lower part of the Nesque gorges, and, a little later, towards the picturesque village of Methamis perched on its rock.
The Gorges de la Nesque
There are several paths leading down to the bottom of the gorges.
Among these, the one path leadingto the Chapelle Saint Michel situated in a cave down below is particularly interesting. It is situated about 20 km from Villes sur Auzon on the road indicated by a yellow signpost, and there are red and white marks all the way down.
Caution, there are cliffs.
The Mont Ventoux
This legendary mountain is well worth climbing. It takes at least 4 hours to walk from the foot to the summit of the mountain. The view is breathtaking. One of the nearest routes from Villes-sur-Auzon starts at the hamlet of Les Constants (near Sainte-Colombe) and leads up to the summit via the Combe d'Ansis and the Combe Fiole. During the summer months, many people climb up at night to watch the sun rise.
the Alps at sunrise seen from the summit of Mont Ventoux
The shadow of Mont Ventoux at sunrise
Villes-sur-Auzon is situated in an ideal area for cycling. There are routes for all abilities, and for all tastes. The legendary Mont Ventoux is not far away, and awaits the most ambitious cyclists, but there are also easier routes amidst beautiful scenery on relatively quiet roads.Click ont the images to enlarge them.
Here are a few suggestions :
The Gorges de la Nesque
It is a 38 km ride up to the highest point of the gorges (730 m altitude) and back. The climb is fairly easy and the scenery magnificent, with several breathtaking viewpoints looking down to the river bed far below. If you wish, you can continue to the picturesque village of Monieux, and even climb the Col des Abeilles (1000 m) which will bring you back to Villes sur Auzon, in which case the total distance is 50 km. At Monieux you can also turn right and take the road to Methamis giving other view points on the Nesque and Mont Ventoux. This route is quieter than the Col des Abeilles.
The col de la Ligne and the col de Murs
This route will take you through the villages of Methamis, Murs, Venasque and Malemort du comtat. The north side of the Monts de Vaucluse, up to the col is very wild. At the top is the Mur de la Peste (Plague Wall) built in 1720 to prevent plague victims from entering the "Comtat Venaissin". Between Murs and Venasque the road passes through a spectacular gorge. The total distance is about 60 km.
Around the Mont Ventoux
This is a longer route that will take you through the Toulourenc valley, and let you discover the wild north side of the Mont Ventoux. You will start by going up the Nesque gorges, then go through Sault, Reihanette, Saint-Léger-du-Ventoux, Entrechaux, Malaucène and Bedoin. Just before Saint Léger, you can make a detour up to the village of Brantes, where your effort will be rewarded by a magnificnent view of the Mont Ventoux. The total distance is almost 100 km.
Climbing the Mont Ventoux
This is a severe route which should only be undertaken by people in good physical condition, and requires serious training. The summit is 25 km from Villes-sur-Auzon by road, and the climb itself covers about 18 km with an average gradient of 1 in 10. It is best to avoid the hottest time of the day in summer. There are three routes, via Sainte Colombe (Bedoin), the hardest, via Sault, the easiest, and via Malaucène.
the north face of Mont Ventoux
Here are a few guides to footpaths around Villes-sur-Auzon tht can be downloaded:
The weather on Mont Ventoux
Click here or on the picture below to visualise the present weather conditions at the top of Mont Ventoux
The summit of Mont Ventoux in winter