Time: 6.5h. Up: 685m. Down: 330m.
Distance: 23km. Difficulty: easy.

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Stage 85: Gréoux-les-Bains (311m) to Montfuron (667m)

Click and drag on map above to see area around trail. Click here for large zoomable map.

Afair bit of walking along busier roads today, unfortunately, as you cross the broad floodplain of the Durance River (last seen in Briançon) and head through the bustling town of Manosque, which, at over 20,000 inhabitants, is the largest place you will have seen since Monaco.

But, as the saying goes, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade... and Manosque is a lovely little town with ancient roots. So, why not have lunch in a nice restaurant and then stroll around the old town centre before heading back into the countryside and the Parc Naturel Regional du Luberon where you will spend the next several days.

Until around 1980 the Luberon was a backwater: wild and largely undeveloped Provençal countryside with a dozen scenic half-ruined perched villages. Close to the popular towns of Aix and Avignon such a state of affairs couldn't last... and it didn't. First came the artists and the intellectuals fleeing the conspicuous consumption of the over-crowded Côte d'Azur, then in 1991 Peter Mayle published his immensely popular book "A Year in Provence", set in Ménerbes (one of those picturesque villages), and the British and Americans started to pour in.

However, despite an ever-increasing number of bus tourists, the Luberon continues to be for many people their favorite part of Provence... attested to by non-local ownership of property that approaches 20% in many villages. And the word Luberon has acquired the connotation (in French) of an ideal country retreat to which well-off intellectuals, usually Parisian or international and mostly left-wing, retire to find "authentic values", sun, and solitude. Sounds fine to me....

Today's hike is identical with the GR4 except for the approach to and departure from the center of Manosque. From Gréoux-les-Bains head north-west for several kilometers through mostly wooded countryside until you reach the D6 road. Turn left and follow the road all the way into the center of Manosque. After lunch, head south-west via the St.-Pancras Chapel through Pierrevert to the hamlet of l'Oume, where the trail turns north-west to eventually reach, after several kilometers of backroads, Montfuron.

Alternatives: if needs be you can have a taxi come from Manosque to pick you up or drop you off almost anywhere along the hike.
Map: IGN-3342OT Manosque.

The House to House blog... stage 85.

<A couple of representative photos from this stage will be added here after the hike>
In the meantime, click here to go to all of the H2H photos on Flickr.

GPS Track
<To be added during or after hike>

Room and Board Options
Lunch: eat in Manosque after 3.5h.
Dinner and overnight: there are just a couple of places to stay in Montfuron: Les Bourdins (+33-(0), up to 13 beds in four rooms), Les Granges (+33-(0), up to 40 beds in five cottages, but may require two night minimum stay), La Ferme des Arnoux (+33-(0), up to 12 beds, but may be unwilling to rent for a single night), and the Gîte l'Amandier (+33-(0), four beds, but may be unwilling to rent for a single night). If none of these work, try calling the Mairie (town hall) at +33-(0) since there are apparently 5 chambres d'hôtes -- B&B's -- in the village. As a last resort you can call the tourist office in Reillane (+33-(0), 7km to the north-west: perhaps they'll be able to suggest something.

Getting There and Back
Gréoux-les-Bains: buses come here twice a day from Manosque, and three times a day from Marseille, where there are railway stations, or you can take a taxi the 17km from Manosque (bus information here, taxi information here, and for train schedule information, see the SNCF).
Montfuron: there are buses a couple of times a day to Manosque and Marseille, or you can have a taxi come and get you to take you the 12km to Manosque (bus information here, taxi information here (search for taxi)).
ViaMichelin Road Map and Driving Directions: centered on Gréoux-les-Bains, centered on Montfuron.

Background Information and Links
Many and various...

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