The Toulourenc valley by bike
A wonderful sports cycling breakaway in the Vallée des Merveilles
You really have to work hard for this route! Travel through the rocky hills at the foot of Mont-Ventoux. The ultimate reward: the view and feeling of being deep in the wild, heightened by the waters of the Toulourenc gorges. A true adventure is waiting for you on this itinerary.
And… a river runs through it
Today we’re going on a tour of the Toulourenc valley with friends, let’s try to keep each other motivated! We’re leaving the pretty medieval village of Entrechaux behind us to tackle a gentle slope, along the D13 to the Voltigeur pass. The wide road is lined with dry stone wall terraces and olive trees. Then we come to the descent towards Mollans, on a road that has 6 hairpin bends, and crossing the Toulourenc, the valley’s emblematic river. Feeling completely free, I turn right after the bridge over the Toulourenc, heading towards the banks of the river for a picnic in the shade. Wow! It’s like something out of a film. The steep-sided valley with “a river running through it” looks more like a “a river adventure with no end in sight”, as if untouched by time. Magical. I have a bite to eat and take it all in…
Did you know?
The crystal clear and turquoise water of the Toulourenc Gorges are an ode to beauty and nature, with highly appreciated shady surroundings in summer. As the site is an ecosystem we must protect, walking in the river is not recommended.
The cost of your effort, the giddy heights
After the fabulous hill towards Pierrevon and the col de Veaux, thank goodness it goes down!
The breeze dries my beads of sweat and breathes some energy into my calves to climb again. The more I climb, the more I feel like I’m flying over the valley. I’m out of breath and so I take regular breaks for my calves, thighs and glutes….
Below me is a patchwork of green, a Van Gogh-style scene. Vineyards, olive trees and dry stone hamlets are tucked into the steep gradient of Mont-Ventoux.
A new descent. There’s that intense buzz you get as a cyclist, you’ve made the effort to climb and now you can breathe deeply again on the descent. Setting your lungs on fire to feel more alive. Everything is more intense riding a bike. The breeze, the birds singing, the drying caress of the wind, the woody scents…
Here it’s just me against nature.
The Alps in Vaucluse
We arrive at Saint Léger du Ventoux, a small village consisting of a concentration of dry stone houses.
I see a blue-shuttered stone house at the edge of the road covered in flowers and it stops me in my tracks. I have a picture postcard in front of me. A ginger cat on the steps of the house looking up at the huge Mont-Ventoux, showing all of its monumental scale in that moment.
I realise the decor has changed. There’s no more garrigue, shrubs, green oaks or olive trees…
It’s all been replaced by pine trees, green grass, the pebbled river , mountains, sheep, it feels more like the Alps….
We continue on our way, the road is flat and continues in the furrow of the Toulourenc up until Savoillans.
A firm favourite
Take a break in the pretty hamlet of Savoillans and try the freshly-baked bread from the village bakery 🙂
THE CLASH OF THE TITANS
A more sporty ascent under the eye of the Giant
We retrace our steps back to the right towards the village of Brantes. What a hill! Personally I’ll remember that one, it’s such a tough climb! An almost colossal ride. The climb features several hairpin bends and turns. And when I turn round ….WOW! BOOM, LE VENTOUX, it’s huge! MASSIVE! IMMENSE! GIGANTIC!
Brantes, a window on Ventoux
I live in Vaucluse and the Ventoux is everywhere you look. It has a gentle slope to the south, a steep straight line to the north. It’s our “Provençal Fujiyama”, a profile with the appearance of a volcano. Its white, lunar summit dominates everything from all around, a source of mystery, surrounded by Provence and its farmland. At Brantes, it reveals itself to me, wild, natural, raw, simple, nothing but mountain. It plays hide and seek with the clouds, above stone wells, the dense pine tree forest and the river which looks like a torrent. I’m mesmerized. They should rename this the valley of wonders. There’s Brantes, a picturesque village on the side of the mountain, with its paved alleys, chimneys and doorsteps covered in flowers, facing Mont-Ventoux. The village is nestled in the shadow of the Giant but together they form one. Mon Ventoux, if I leave the T off in French, it sounds like it’s mine and I get to enjoy the osmosis.
Lunch at the Brantes inn. This countryside bistrot established in a former travellers’ inn is a stop off appreciated by both cyclists and hikers on the GR 9. Enjoy quality Provençal dishes and a friendly atmosphere at this lovely, convenient spot!
I met several other bikers there. It’s the perfect point of reference for cyclists looking for peace and quiet…
around the Toulourenc valley