The Mont Ventoux is a mountain in Vaucluse, southern France. At 1909 metres, the isolated peak dominates over the surrounding landscape and is an iconic landmark in this beautiful region. Visitors often believe the mountain is capped with snow all year round, but it is in fact bare limestone with no vegetation or trees that gives the mountain peak this appearance.
On 28th July 2020 the forested area surrounding the Mont Ventoux became France’s 55th Natural Regional Park, ensuring a heightened level of preservation. The week before this landmark date I visited the Mont Ventoux to spend the night camping. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic I had based myself in Avignon for the summer months, which is less than one hour drive from the Mont Ventoux. Seeing just how easy it was to access, I decided take a short break and surround myself in nature.
We arrived late afternoon on a Sunday, setup camp, had a simple dinner and then headed up to the summit to watch the sunset. It was about 10 degrees centigrade cooler up here and felt so refreshing to escape the intense heat. The sunset was beautiful and we stayed a little while after to observe the stars before heading back to camp for an early night.
The following morning we woke up at 5am and headed off on a hike to a witness sunrise at a secret viewpoint. Friends who know the area well had advised us about a lookout which is fairly unknown to most walkers. The hike took us along a winding path through beautiful pine forests and we didn’t meet anyone along the way. After about 45 minutes we found the small path that led away from the official hiking route. A further 10 minutes along this diversion and the narrow forest path opened up to offer a stunning view over the steep limestone valley and an amazing perspective over the entire region. On the horizon we could see the Alps mountain range and our timing was perfect as the colour of the sky was just starting to turn to shades of pink, orange and blue. Down on the limestone slopes groups of Chamois, a type of wild mountain goat common to this area, were grazing on the odd shoots that grow out of the rock surface. They expertly navigated the steep slope with ease, sometimes running across the rugged terrain.
Eventually the sun rose and as we sat on a rock edge I contemplated just how beautiful the natural world can be. I was so grateful that this experience was only 45 minutes away from where I was staying. We watched as the sun rose further up into the sky and the Chamois continued to graze. The silence was so refreshing to my ears, only occasionally broken by rocks falling down the slope caused by one of the Chamois. Such a perfect way to start the day! After an hour or so we decided to head back to camp and on the way back I stopped to record the calm forest.
It is a lovely summer soundscape, typical to this part of the world. In spring the soundscape would have been busier with more birds vocalising, but at this time of year things are much calmer. I enjoyed this short trip so much and have realised just how much I would like to return here during the different seasons of the year. Not only to record, but to witness the beauty of the forests throughout the seasons.