Provence by bike, a land of challenges
You come across them at the crack of dawn, at dusk, and in the middle of the day, their colourful, streamlined silhouettes hunched in fierce concentration over their gleaming machines. These are the serious cyclists who take on the roads of Vaucluse with determination, passion and a single goal, grinding out the kilometres that lead to the top of Mont Ventoux - this majestic, mythical and seemingly silent Giant, that summons amateurs and professionals to its slopes, calling on them to join the ranks of the Mont Ventoux "conquerors."
Vaucluse is the land of cycling with 39 ATB bike trails (including 5 that are classified as difficult and reserved for serious athletes only), 15 MTB bike trails (including 9 stages, totaling around 400 km, that make up the Grande Traversée de Vaucluse VTT - long distance MTB bike trail), and 3 Green Ways;, in other words, more than 1,500 km of marked routes for touring cyclists, bike enthusiasts riding with family or friends, professional or semi-professional cyclists, and serious cyclists who, in Vaucluse, have discovered the ideal place where they can enjoy a physical challenge, at any time of year.
Serious cycling in Vaucluse: Focus on Mont Ventoux
Climbing Mont Ventoux, the Vaucluse Long-Distance MTB trail, and the Autour du Luberon route (236 km) are ideal for cyclists looking for a sporting challenge.
To validate and commemorate this achievement, 4 bike stamp machines have been installed in Bedoin, Sault, Malaucène and at the top of Mont Ventoux respectively. Cyclists can collect their 3-section Coupon Card (for the 3 possible ascents) from the Tourist Office in one of the 3 villages. You have to punch your card in the bike stamp machine when you leave and then again when you arrive. If you're tempted by this adventure, here are a few details about the 3 routes to the top, so you can make your own Mont Ventoux history. The ascent of Mont-Ventoux.
The legendary ascent, setting off from Bedoin
A distance of 21 km with a 1,610 m elevation gain. You'll encounter an average gradient of 7.5% with a maximum gradient of 12%. The most athletic will finish the climb in 1.5 hours but it can take up to 4 hours.
Ascent from Malaucène
Once again, you'll cover a distance of 21 km with an elevation gain of 1,535 m. This slope has an average gradient of 7.3% and maximum gradient of 10.5% More seasoned cyclists will be able to conquer the Giant in 1.5 hours - the same as the Bedoin ascent - with the maximum time estimated at 4 hours.
Ascent from Sault
At 26 km, this is the longest and supposedly easiest route, with 1,147 m of elevation gain, an average gradient of 4.7%, and maximum gradient of 10.5%. The average time for this route is 1.5 hours.
Are you tempted and ready for the challenge? Professionals are available to help you prepare for, and accomplish, this sporting achievement.
Our recommendation: a cycling trip around Mont Ventoux!
But cycling is not all about the sporting challenge; cycling is also a great way of exploring the region; discover villages nestled in the foothills of Mont Ventoux, the Comtat Plain, the AOC Ventoux and AOC Côtes du Rhône wine routes etc. Plan your own tour with the help of the Provence à vélo network of approved professionals, or if you prefer, you can ask a specialist agency to create a tailor-made package for you.
Take your time to conquer the Giant! The Mont Ventoux mountain pass is closed from mid November to mid April (southern side) and mid May (north side); the ideal time for cycling up the mountain is spring, late summer and autumn. In the middle of summer, it's best to climb early in the morning or late afternoon when it's cooler. In winter, it's possible to gain access to the southern side up to chalet Reynard, from Bédoin or Sault.
These tips will also help you prepare for your climb.
The highlight of summer 2016: the Tour de France reaches the summit of Mont Ventoux on 14th July!
For the 16th time, Mont Ventoux will be the decisive stage in the Tour de France race. The battle between climbers, and racers pursuing their own personal challenges, over this incredibly tough "hors catégorie" mountain pass, is sure to be full of surprises, adding a new chapter to the Tour's history.
The twelfth stage, which starts in Montpellier, passes first through the Luberon, then the foothills of Mont Ventoux, before arriving at the top of the Giant of Province, some 184 km in total.
Mont Ventoux: key figures
1912: summit height
1951: first Tour de France ascent of Mont Ventoux
55 minutes and 21 seconds: the record for cycling up Mont Ventoux via Bédoin was set by Iban Mayo Diez in 2004 during the Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré race, in a Bédoin-Mont Ventoux time trial; this works out at an average speed of 23.2 km per hour!
"Autour du Luberon" cycle route
This 236 km itinerary is a journey through a land of colour, in the heart of the Luberon regional nature park; the route takes cyclists through a dream setting comprising ochre landscapes, vineyards, orchards, lavender fields, hilltop and hillside villages.
More athletic individuals will be able to complete the route, which combines flat terrain and hills (some of them quite steep), in two days.
Of course it's possible (and recommended so you can explore the wealth of riches the region has to offer) to divide the route up into several stages, depending on your plans or fitness goals, so you enjoy the full Luberon cycling experience. This route can be supplemented by the , and the Pays de Forcalquier-Montagne de Lure cycle itinerary. Ocres à Vélo tour and , the the Pays d’Aigues cycle route.
The "Accueil Vélo" approved professionals that you'll encounter along the route, will help you at every stage of your journey, so you can enjoy a hassle-free experience.
Our recommendation: a tailor-made cycling tour of the Luberon!
Choose an all inclusive package so you can explore the Luberon with complete peace of mind.
Although the route follows a series of small, quiet roads away from busy main roads, cyclists often have to share the road with all kinds of vehicles. So it's important to respect the highway code and practice good driving - or cycling - etiquette!
Spring is the ideal time to enjoy the orchards and flower-filled meadows while in early summer you can wend your way through fields of lavender. Every season provides an opportunity to marvel at the beauty of the region. In the height of summer, it's best to cycle in the morning or late afternoon when it's cooler.
This advice will also help you when it comes to planning your own itinerary.
Devise your own route!
Do you want to explore the roads and the delights of the Vaucluse region, independently? Devise your own itinerary using our interactive map: choose your starting point, the different stages and your end destination, then download the route.