LUBERON GEOPARK (France)
The Luberon area in southeastern France presents a remarkable natural and cultural heritage that justified the creation of a Regional Nature Park in 1977. In 1987, a Geological Nature Reserve was created in its territory to protect an exceptional geological heritage.
Conservation, Education & Tourism
Oligocene fossiliferous deposits are one of the major geological interests of this territory. Indeed, very thin platy limestones reveal a great variety of animal and plant fossils, which are well-preserved in sharp detail. Just like an open book, each thin lamina is like a photographic film preserving part of a several million year-old environment. These superimposed plates have revealed an abundance of fish, leaves, insects, frogs, birds, tortoises and more. Other sites reveal fossil bones of primitive mammals (horses, elephants, and gazelles) but also footprints of rhinoceros, hyenas, young goats and birds.
The landscapes of the Luberon constitute an important element of the geodiversity of this region. One of the most remarkable is the Ochre Massif, a protected area since 2002, which offers a landscape of cliffs and gullies, ranging in color from dark red to golden yellow. Similarly, the grey marl hills around the town of Apt are another unusual landscape, stratotype of the Aptian stage 120 million years ago. The exploitation of mineral resources (ochres, lignites, clays and limestones) has deeply marked the region and is attested by several ovens, quarries and factories.
For the benefit of visitors, on-site information panels and information leaflets are available. Scientific studies and excavation works are regularly carried out in partnership with universities. In this way, geology is valorized through on-site trips, teachers training, conferences, temporary exhibitions and also books aimed at the general public. Free educational activities are also offered to Luberon school classes.
The Global Geoparks Network is supported by UNESCO at the request of Member States