The Luberon Regional Nature Park
Identity card: • Region Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur • 77 municipalities (including: Apt, Cavaillon, Pertuis, Manosque) • 185 000 hectares • 155 000 inhabitants
Luberon-Lure Biosphere Reserve - UNESCO Global Geoparc - Natura 2000 (9 sites, ie 7 special zones and 2 special protection zones)
Located between the Alps and the Mediterranean, the Luberon Regional Nature Park stretches from the Vaucluse to the Alpes de Haute Provence, on both sides of the Luberon Massif. Since the creation on January 31st 1977, the park has been carrying out environmental protection, land-use planning and development of adapted activities.
Recently, the park has been admitted by UNESCO into the world network of biosphere reserves, with 460 others spread over 5 continents at the rank of "living model" of sustainable development.
Geology: 130 million years of History
The oldest visible lands of the Luberon date from the Cretaceous (Secondary Era). The seas then covers Provence. The stratotype named " Aptian " by Alcide d’Orbigny in the 19th c., was born a little later around 110 million years ago. Little by little, the lands emerge and the climate alters the sands that later will become ochers. Here, these deposits, few in the world, reach up to 50 m high and extend on a band of approximately 25 km. The Luberon Massif was born in the Tertiairy Era (-40 million years ago), with all of Provencal reliefs, during a phase of the Alpine cycle.
Natural Environments of Remarkable Diversity
The Mourre-Nègre, top of the Luberon culminates at 1125 m. The summit lawns offer a profusion of flowers, wild orchids, butterflies and are refuge to the Circaète Jean-le-blanc, a raptor feeding exclusively on reptiles.
The scrubland made of schrubs and herbaceaous lands that can stand limestone is dominated by Kermes oak and rosemary. Lizards, shrikes, partridges... live there. The oak forests keep remains of old charcoal kilns. In the forest animal species abound with owls, jays, deers... The cliffs and gorges favor the raptors: eagle owl, Egyptian vulture...
Rivers are rare. Yet, storms revive the life of the wetlands whose flora and fauna are highly endangered.
A Very Provencal Habitat
Dominated by an emblematic dry stone architecture (bories, terraces, "aiguiers", walls), hilltop and lowland villages can be found in the Luberon. Today, 5 villages are classified among the Most Beautiful Villages of France (Ansouis, Gordes, Lourmarin, Ménerbes et Roussillon).
Built at the foot of a castle or encircled by ramparts, hilltop villages reflect the need for protection of the early 12th c. people. Later, the villages were built in the plains, closer to the communication routes. The beauty, balance and harmony of the farmhouses and country houses are noticed by all.
It is the constraints of the country, of the land and the climate which gave rise to these simple buildings with rooms added when came the need. The common sense and configuration of the grounds guiding the whole, these farms are just merging into the landscape.
Agricultural activity blends harmoniously into the Luberon landscape. Two major productions predominate: cherries and wine.
Goat and sheep farming is essential in the massifs and foothills. The Luberon is renowned for its farm goat cheeses and country lamb. Lavender distillation and honey production are naturally associated. Truffles are also grown; about 20% of the national production comes from the Luberon.
The light and stony soils of the hills favor the vine: production of half of French table grapes and 3 appellations (Côtes du Luberon, Côtes du Ventoux and Côteaux de Pierrevert). The culture of cherry trees, mostly the bigarreau Napoléon commands (16 to 20 000 tons per year for the only company Aptunion). Finally the slopes are suitable for the famous hill melons, from Goult or Cucuron, known as "de Cavaillon".
In the plains many olive groves are reborn. But early crops thrive mainly in the Durance Valley. That of the Calavon however allows only seasonal crops.
Contact: Maison du parc du Luberon Place Jean Jaurès 84400 Apt tél. 04 90 04 42 00 www.parcduluberon.fr
Regional Wildlife Conservation Centre – LPO PACA
Since the Fall of 2006, the Regional Wildlife Conservation Center has been managed by the LPO PACA in partnership with the Luberon Regional Nature Park. This facility is licensed for the recovery of wild birds and small mammals in distress.
Since January 1st 2007 the Center has taken care of 4896 animals. These animals are mostly birds (93%) with a large proportion of birds of prey (66% of birds welcomed), mammals (7%) are mainly young animals picked up from the ground and not weaned.
The Center does not collect pets, New Pets (NAC), urban semi-domestic pigeons and wild boars.
By law and for the tranquility of the animals in recovery the center cannot be visited !