We will pick you up at your arrival airport or train station and transport you and your bike to the picturesque town of Mazan, the starting point of your tour. No riding today: Take the time to settle in and explore the charming town centre
This sleepy golden-stoned village on the L’Auzon river, is steeped in history from the time of the Roman invasion. With stone houses with bright shutters and decorative balconies, old fashioned little shops, narrow cobbled alleys and gingham table cloths it is full of charm as well.
It is a key base for cyclists wanting to climb Mont Ventoux and explore the wider region.
No formal cycling today.
Your first ride of the tour winds through the scenic foothills of Mont Ventoux. The area abounds with hidden valleys, hilltop hamlets and quiet back roads which give the area a unique feel and make it a ride not to be missed.
The terrain is rolling making it a great warm-up for your legs in preparation for tomorrow’s ascent of Mont Ventoux.
Distance: 63km, Climbing 1250m
Today’s ride will be the most challenging of your trip. Mont Ventoux utterly dominates its surroundings in the heart of Provence. Mont Ventoux is a worthy adversary for any aspiring cyclist and merits its nickname “The Giant of Provence”.
There are 3 possible ascents, with the classic Tour de France route starting in Bedoin. We recommend climbing via Sault and descending via Bedoin. The Sault ascent, is slightly longer and less steep. It is also more picturesque as it starts off amongst the lavender fields for which Provence is famous.
You will leave Mazan, passing through the Gorges of Nesque before beginning your climb of Mont Ventoux. You will descend into Bedoin from where you will be transported to your next destination of Arles.
As an option, your ride today can be fully supported with a guide and follow-on vehicle.
Distance: 65km, Climbing 1912m
- Bruce will ride with you to help you set the right personal pace for the sustained climbing and provide tips for descending confidently and safely.
- The support vehicle will carry water and snacks as well as mechanical supplies and extra clothing to keep you fuelled and unencumbered for a long day of riding.
- The support vehicle will follow the route stopping at flexibles intervals to allow you to refill water bottles etc.
- If for whatever reason, you decide you do not want to continue with the climb, the support vehicle will take you to the summit.
Rest day in Arles
Arles is a key destination in Provence, both for its historical attractions such as the Roman Amphitheatre and the Romanesque cathedral of St. Tromphime, as well as its connection to the artist Van Gogh who spent substantial time here.
The Camargue is a natural region located south of Arles which presents a stark contrast to the typical Provencal landscape. It is famous for its horses, bulls, flamingos and salt marshes. We will provide you with a mapped cycling route if you choose to explore this area.
Distance: 60km, Climbing 575m
Arles to Sommières
The start of today’s route follows the flood plain of the Rhone to the towns of Tarascon and Beauclaire which face each other on each side of the river Rhone.
Once you cross the bridge, the route slowly becomes more undulating as it meanders through the vineyards. You will pass through some of Languedoc’s most famous wine villages. Your final destination for the day is the village of Sommieres. The village has a Roman bridge, a medieval centre, a fortified gate and the ruins of a castle. It is the perfect place to relax and unwind after a day of cycling.
Distance: 91km, Climbing: 836m
Sommières to Gignac
This route meanders through two distinct Languedoc wine appellations – the Terres de Sommières and then Pic-St-Loup with the dramatic Cevennes hills in the background before descending into the Gellon valley to St. Guilham le Désert.
St-Guilhem le Désert is both the name of an abbey and the village that grew up around it. The romanesque abbey is a rare beauty and is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The village has retained its medieval personality with old houses in amber stone, an ancient tower, and a shady square with a fountain at its centre. Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert is counted among the Plus Beaux Villages of France. It is home to numerous artists’ studios, shops and restaurants.
The extensive underground stalagmite caves the “Grottes of Clamouse” are nearby and are worth a visit if time permits. You will pass by the roman “Pont de Diable” as you leave St-Guilhem le Désert on your way to Gignac.
Distance: 84km, Climbing 1118m
Gignac to Pezenas
This route is challenging as it is full of short and sharpish hill climbs through the red rocky hills which are typical of the area, but there are also many charming villages in which to take a break.
You will cycle thorugh the unique landscape around the Cirque de Moureze which is one of the oldest “Grand Sites” of France. The limestone rock has been carved and sculpted by erosion creating unusual rock formations resembling fairy chimneys. Keep your eyes open for the mountain goats that cling to the side of the rocks along the route.
The route then passes by Lac Salagou providing some amazing vistas over this beautiful lake which is popular with campers and triathetes alike.
Finish in Pezenas, which is a bustling artistic centre full of unique bars and restaurants. Pezenas’ medieval town centre is full of history and is thriving with a variety of artisans, boutiques and cafes. Pezenas was once the capital of ancient Languedoc and has maintained a regal character. Explore the pedestrian-only historic centre and the ancient Jewish Quarter. You will want to keep a camera handy. Pezenas is a local artistic hub. Pop in to the many artisan workshops and galleries; there are marked routes you can follow.
Distance: 72km, Climbing 985m
Morning in Pezenas and Departure
On Saturday, there is an all-day market in the Cours Jean Jaures which is one of the largest and most vibrant in the area. Depending of the time of your flight home, it is definitely worth exploring.
Your tour ends here. We will transport you and your bikes back to your arrival airport for your return or onward journey.
Distance: 60km, Climbing 680m