The Cedar Forest, An Enchanted Forest?

Above the hilltop village of Bonnieux, cedars dot the rounded summit of the Luberon Mountain. Under these long thin bluish spears is hidden a secret world.
By Claire Vincent

The air is sweet under these majestic trees, we advance along the road, today empty of all motorized vehicles, and we are taken by the enchanting calm and beauty of the place. Suddenly we hear the sound of wings… of fairies perhaps? Then melodious song rises into the air… of forgotten mermaids probably, as a long time ago the sea came right up here.

Lifting our eyes to the sky, we see the countless birds that colonize one of the highest forests in Provence: sparrows, chickadees, goldcrests, and robins seem to be starting to dance with the multicolored butterflies that fly toward the flowers opening up to the sunny day.

An immense shadow hovers in the sky, of a brighter and brighter blue: it’s a bird of prey. This forest, a biosphere reserve, is inhabited by birds, but also by insects of all sorts, enormous ants that hide in the cut tree trunks, grasshoppers and cicadas…

By looking more carefully at these huge 150-year-old trunks, we discover at their feet a strange pile of branches… probably laid out by tiny little men, clumsy builders of ephemeral cabins… Do goblins really live here too? Have they chosen this summit to have the most beautiful view over the two mountainsides of the Luberon?

A sign indicates a narrow stony track. It plunges down the side of the mountain and slowly disappears into the wilderness, with mistletoe, oaks, ivy, briars. The scent of thyme, rosemary, and honeysuckle encourage you to follow this botanical path which now climbs towards the Provence sun… Once you reach the plateau, you tell yourself that it’s the goblins who have led us here, planting their little signs… as the view presented to the curious traveler is a Christmas gift ahead of its time: the Alpilles mountain range and in the distance, the reflection of the water from the Étang de Berre lagoon. Returning to the old track along the crest in the shadow of the cedars, children’s laughter marks your return to reality…

The cabins are in fact inhabited by dozens of kids who run under the trees, dragging long branches in order to attach them to a new tree trunk, and build, carefree, the most incredible hide-out for friends, a magical place ringing with their shouts of joy. Enchanted places don’t only exist in fairytales.

The Cedar Forest in Bonnieux

The Cedar Forest
The Cedar Forest
Photography José Nicolas

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