Cycling In The Shadow Of Mont Ventoux

The Giant of Provence. The Beast of Provence. The watchdog of the Rhone Valley. Even on days when the top is hidden by the clouds, you are always aware that it is there. Nestled below it on all sides are small towns and villages perfect for exploring. Whether you ever intend to ride to the top of Mont Ventoux or not, there is a lot for cyclists to see and discover on the bike routes around Mont Ventoux.

We are staying for several days at a Villa Noria, a cozy B&B in the village of Modene, nestled between Caromb, Crillion-le-Brave and Bedoin. It is a perfect base to explore the cycling itineraries around Mont Ventoux. It is run by Philippe and Sylvie Monti, two of the nicest people you would ever want to meet. Philippe used to be a chef at the Relais et Chateaux hotel in Crillion-le-Brave, so you are definitely in for a treat on nights that he prepares dinners! It is so comfortable here that it would be easy to just settle in a lounge chair by the pool and forget about cycling, but there is much exploring to be done. There will be plenty of time for relaxing by the pool or under the palm trees later. We head out to visit the town of Bedoin, best known as the staging are for the most famous ascent to Mont Ventoux. The cycling itineraries follow a mix of small roads through the vineyards and low traffic roads. The scenery everywhere is gorgeous.

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Before long, we’re entering the town of Bedoin.

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We won’t see Mont Ventoux this morning, but I’m hopeful that the clouds may clear later in the day. I’m not really sure what I expected, but Bedoin is a completely normal, unassuming town, similar to any other you would find in Provence. Except it’s not. There are shops full of Le Tour and Mont Ventoux paraphernalia, Mont Ventoux signs and serious cyclists preparing to ride to the summit. You can sense this is a special place for some, and just home for everyone else.

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Then there is the sobering plaque to Tom Simpson, the British cyclist who collapsed and died during his ascent of Mont Ventoux during the 1967 Tour de France.

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From Bedoin we continued along the cycling itinerary, From the Plains to the Piedmont to Mazan, surrounded by vineyards for as far as you could see.

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This itinerary, which is part of the La Provence A Velo network of circuits starts and ends in Caromb. It’s about 35 km, and is signposted. It’s rated family, or average level, but beware, there are several hills, especially if you want to go into Crillion-le-Brave. This shouldn’t be a problem though, if you are not traveling with panniers. This itinerary is definitely one to be savored, perhaps with some wine tasting, perhaps enjoying a picnic, or maybe just enjoying sitting on the hillside looking at the incredible scenery. You can view the itinerary at www.provence-cycling.co.uk.

As for me, I am headed back to Villa Noria to relax and try to recover from whatever seems to have gotten me under the weather. More on bicycling around Mont Ventoux tomorrow!

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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.