Cycling In Provence: Mont Ventoux Region Not To Be Missed!

I always imagined the Mont Ventoux region as the domain of expert cyclists, not an area that would be welcoming to a normal, average recreational cyclist like me. After my recent trip to this area, I’m happy to report that this is definitely another region in France to add to your bucket list of cycling destinations, even if you are a recreational cyclist!

Several itineraries travel through local vineyards

Several itineraries travel through local vineyards

Obviously there are many very difficult routes in the area, namely the three ascents to Mont Ventoux, and several itineraries in the Dentelles.

The beginning of the ascent to Mont Venrtoux from Bedoin

The beginning of the ascent to Mont Venrtoux from Bedoin

But there are many itineraries perfectly suited for recreational cyclists too. You can read more about these itineraries at my recent post, “Three Perfect Itineraries for Bicycling Near Mont Ventoux“. Bottom line, do not discount this region because you are afraid that the cycling might be too difficult!  With some careful planning, you can have a great long weekend or longer exploring the home to the Giant of Provence.  From a base in a town like Orange or Avignon, you can access 12 cycling itineraries in the Upper Vaucluse and 16 itineraries in the Mont Ventoux region. Information on all of these itineraries can be accessed from the recommended resources listed below.

Most itineraries are signposted

Most itineraries are signposted

The area around Mont Ventoux is packed with history, the gorgeous scenery of the Comtat Venaissin plains, the Cote du Ventoux vineyards and perched villages, each more warm and inviting than the next.  This area is perfect to explore by bike, and the magic of this famous mountain is not diminished in the least if you don’t make the climb to the top!

The route through the vineyards to Vaison-la-Romaine

Scenery along the route through the vineyards to Vaison-la-Romaine

If you’d like to learn more about cycling in the Mont Ventoux region of Provence, here are my top recommended resources:

Vaucluse Tourism in Provence 

Without a doubt, this website is one of the best resources for anyone planning a trip to this part of Provence. In addition to being a comprehensive resource on anything in the region, this website is a treasure of information for cyclists interested in visiting the area. This is after all, the land of the Tour de France, and the region understands the importance of cyclotourism to the area. To make sure that cyclists have all the trip planning information they need, there is a dedicated cycling section on this website which can be linked to directly at www.provence-cycling.co.uk. The Cycling in Vaucluse section of this website is a great resource to explore different itineraries.  Whether you are a beginner, intermediate or experienced cyclist, there is a wide variety of possible itineraries searchable at each level.  Itineraries can be accessed by location or by experience level, all from a clickable map on the main page.

Easy to access information on cycling itineraries

Easy to access information on cycling itineraries

Each route has detailed information on the area, the itinerary, a downloadable file, a GPS file, information on accommodations, things to see and do and a route map.  The route map has a function that enables you to pinpoint lodging possibilities and bike support services.  From the main page you can also access downloadable maps and brochures.  This includes the excellent map, La Provence a Velo as well as topographical maps of each bicycling itinerary.  I prefer to have the real map and brochures for my trip planning as many of the downloadable documents are too large to print.  If you would prefer original documents, you can contact the Vaucluse Office of Tourism and request them.  The e-mail address is info@provenceguide.com.

The “Organizing Your Stay” section of the website is also full of helpful resources for trip planning with links to accommodation options, bike rentals, tour guides and taxi companies.  In this region of the Vaucluse, taxis are commonly used to move cyclists from one area to the next and/or transport luggage from one B&B to the next.  Baggage transfer is a really smart thing to do as it lightens up your load significantly, making it much easier to make the trek up to the many perched villages!  There is even a service that will shuttle you to the top of Mont Ventoux so that you can enjoy the view without making the climb and then leisurely ride down.

If you are planning a trip to this region of Provence, this website should be your first stop.  It may well be the only resource you need.

Destination Ventoux

The Destination Ventoux website is a joint venture of two organizations, SMAEMV and la CoVe that are dedicated to promoting tourism in the area surrounding Mont Ventoux.  Needless to say, with the famous history of cycling in this region, the promotion of cycling in the area is an important part of this effort. As a result, the website is a great resource for everything there is to discover about the region. The website shares much of the same cycling information as Cycling in Vaucluse, but with specific emphasis on itineraries and support services directly in the area surrounding Mont Ventoux.

Bicycling itineraries near Mont Ventoux

Bicycling itineraries near Mont Ventoux

My favorite feature is the clickable map located on the main page. Click on the map to enlarge it, and then click on any/each itinerary to bring up the page with details on the itinerary including route elevation, hypertext links to lodging options, restaurants, attractions, bike rentals and taxi services.  Note that when you click on an itinerary, it may bring the detailed information up in French.  If so, just click on the English icon on the upper right hand of the page and it will bring up the English translation.  You can also access route information by cycling level and by area.  Should you have specific questions about the itineraries or general questions about cycling in the Mont Ventoux region or want to request hard copies of the itineraries, here is the e-mail address:  contact@destination-ventoux.com.  The professionals from SMAEMV and la CoVe are extremely knowledgeable about anything having to do with cycling in this area, as well as the best resources in the area.  They actively promote members of Ventoux Cyclists Welcome, the network that provides cycling-related services for the 13 circuits located near Mont Ventoux.

IGN Map Carpentras, Vaison-la-Romaine, Dentelles De Montmirail(#3040 ET)

No matter how great the support materials are that you are traveling with, never be caught out on the road on a bike without a great map, particularly when there are mountains anywhere near you……even if you are traveling with a GPS.  This is one rule of the road that was reenforced on my last trip when our GPS tried to direct us up one of the three ascents to Mont Ventoux to get to our hotel near Bedoin!  As we climbed up and up, I kept telling my husband, who edged further and further ahead of me, that we weren’t going the right way.  He kept telling me that the GPS said we were.  Finally, I stopped, consulted the map, and ta da, the GPS was wrong.  While I am not an overall fan of IGN maps, this one is very detailed and is the perfect companion for a trip in the region of Mont Ventoux.

If you take a trip to this region, be sure to stop in to any of the local tourism offices.  No matter how small the town, the tourism offices are very knowledgeable about cycling routes in the region, and each office has maps and itineraries to take away.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by Maggie LaCoste

I love the adventure and unpredictability of experiencing France by bike. Cycling in France is the ultimate slow travel adventure, an opportunity to see it through the back door in a way few tourists experience. One week on a bike in France and life takes on a different meaning! I created Experience France By Bike to inspire recreational cyclists to visit France the slow way....by bike, and to be the best source of information for planning the perfect bicycling adventure. I encourage readers to embrace the uncertainty of the road ahead and to take the path less traveled, exploring roads, towns and villages that you would never experience traveling by car.