Vallon de la Sénancole and its lawn trays

The valley of the Senancole is without context colonized by junipers, Aleppo pines and green oaks, it also hosts several species of forest and rock birds such as rock swallows, the blue mound (blackbird) and twenty other species.

Page updated on 29/09/2020

In this environment there is a wealth found in dry lawns and grassland.

Grass lawns, the high plateau of the Sénancole

Around the Vallon, and especially towards the ruins of the Ferme de la Débroussède, large spaces are still occupied by dry limestone lawns.

These relictual lawns correspond to previously pastured surfaces or to ancient lavandin cultures reconquered by a procession of plants such as dry bromidge or damascus nigella, a pretty starred blue flower. We can also find some wild orchids and ophrys in the spring.

Nigella of Damascus

Nigella of Damascus


Prairie à graminées avec fleur de Sainfoin


Sainfoin © Pixabay-WikimediaImages

Grass meadows surrounded by scrubland are often the ideal biotope for small gallinaceae: red partridge and wheat quail. It is not uncommon to see females followed by chicks.

Wheat Quail -

Red partridge

Red partridge

The entomofauna of these lawns

These lawns are a kingdom for butterflies, locusts, green grasshoppers and for the discreet and rare serrated Magician. Protected, it is the largest grasshopper in Europe. Carnival she will not hesitate to satiate herself with small locusts. (There are no fewer than 53 species of butterflies and 27 species of locusts and grasshoppers in this area).

green grasshopper

Sauterelle verte

Papillon zygène pourpre

Papillon zygène pourpre

Water scarcity in Provence

Provence is synonymous with lack of water. In summer the runoff of rivers, and streams are no longer heard, it is the cicadas that takes over by singing from the first rays of the sun. It is difficult to imagine the crus and the abundance of some rivers.

The Senancole

On the outskirts of Gordes, a source named after the Senancole, is nestled in the heart of a Vallon, dug by the latter. 12.6 km long, it originates in the Monts de Vaucluse, until it confludes into Calavon.

The flow of the Senancole varies according to the seasons, but it is very often dry or even non-existent in summer.

The Vallon de la Sénancole houses, a Cistercian monastery, the Abbey of Sénanque. The settlement, Cistercian monks in the 12th century, has a close connection with this valley. The latter were looking for narrow valleys, isolated for the construction of their monastery, and the presence of water was indispensable.

But then, one might ask: why did you choose this valley with an irregular stream, and where water is so scarce in summer?

At the end of the 19th century, between 1897 and 1909, Provence was hit by a strong seismic activity. These successive earthquakes will change the various local water networks. As a result of these terrible events, many streams are diverted from their stream, including that of the Senancole, which once had a much more abundant flow.

We are never very far from the reality of Manon des Sources...

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