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France

Provence - Le Ventoux a Velo

Guided Road Cycling Holiday

Grade

1
2
3
4
5

Duration

8 days

Prices from

£1,850 P.P.
France

Provence - Le Ventoux a Velo

Guided Road Cycling Holiday

Grade

1
2
3
4
5

Duration

8 days

Prices from

£1,850 P.P.
BOOK NOW
A beautiful road cycling holiday in France, in one of the most popular and most visited regions, Provence. With its diverse landscape, ranging from snow-capped mountains, pancake flat lavender plains and a stunningly beautiful coastline it’s not difficult to see why. All of this stunning scenery, combined with fantastic food, over 300 days a year of sunshine and an extremely agreeable climate make Provence an irresistible cycling holiday destination.
Provence is home to some of the best road cycling in southern Europe. You will arrive into Marseille airport and will depart from Nice, the glittering capital of the French Riviera.
A transfer on arrival day takes us away from the coast and we head inland to the Vaucluse region. The following day we begin our ride which will ultimately bring us all the way back to the Cote d’Azur. It’s an incredible journey which will take in some of the most impressive routes in Provence, including the Gorges de la Nesque and an ascent to the famous 'moonscape' summit of the mighty Mont Ventoux.
Another highlight of the trip is the incredible and dramatic Verdon Gorge, the deepest and most beautiful in Europe, second largest in the world and often referred to as the 'Grand Canyon of Europe'. We end the week with a thrilling descent of the Col de Vence which spits us out at the 12th century medieval town of Vence and then onto the fortified town of St Paul de Vence where we will spend the last evening.

Holiday Highlights

  • Exploring the world famous beauty of one of France’s most popular regions
  • Conquering Mont Ventoux – the mighty Géant de Provence
  • Stunning views of the turquoise waters of Lac de Sainte Croix
  • Riding the rim of the Gorge du Verdon, Europe’s very own Grand Canyon
  • The lavender fields of the Plateau de Valensole
  • Sipping on a cheeky post ride rosé in the sunshine

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My first holiday of this kind and enjoyed the whole experience greatly! Climbing Mont Ventoux was something I’ve wanted to do for many years.

Keith, Wales

Itinerary

Day 1
Arrival: Marseille Provence Airport
Non Riding Day

Following your arrival into Marseille airport, we will transfer to our accommodation near Rousillon, one of the most spectacular medieval ‘ochre towns’ of the Luberon National Park, and it is the gateway to the Chaussee des Geants; a large red ochre rock formation, surrounded by ever colour changing sands.

There will be time to have a wander around as well as time to prepare ourselves and our bikes for the forthcoming road journey before dining together this evening.

Day 2
Rousillon to Sault (via Gorges de la Nesque)
56 Miles / 90 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch
  • Ascent: 2,100 Metres Approx.

We’ll begin the day with a short descent, but don’t be lulled into a false sense of security, it really isn’t all downhill from here!

We arrive at some flat riding sections with small rises along quiet lanes, through vineyards and lavender fields until we reach the village of Saint Saturnin Les Apt from where we will begin to climb. It’s a challenging, yet thoroughly manageable, ascent which takes us over our first col, just shy of 1,000m above sea level.

From the summit the views of the mighty Mont Ventoux are unnervingly clear. The Giant of Provence – Geant de Provence; watches over us ominously for much of the day. A tricky little descent is waiting for us on the other side of the col as we drop down in the direction of Monieux, the gateway to the Gorges de la Nesque.

We’ll spend the rest of the day riding through this impressively beautiful gorge before settling down in Sault, the centre of the ancient Provençal lavender trade where we will spend the next 2 nights.

Day 3
Mont Ventoux
32 Miles / 51 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch
  • Ascent: 1,300 Metres Approx.

Today we have a date with one of the most famous and notorious mountains in the world and one which has featured heavily in the Tour de France since 1951.

There are 3 ways up Ventoux and you’ll be happy to learn that we will be taking the easiest (ok, least challenging!) route. Sault is already at nearly 700m above sea level, so we have less climbing over a greater distance, making the lower slopes at least, much more friendly gradients. We begin winding our way up through fields of lavender before entering a pine forest. 6 kilometres before the top two of the routes converge at Chalet Reynard and from this point onwards we are in the dry, barren, exposed moonscape that makes Ventoux both feared and respected.

We pass the Tom Simpson Memorial to Britain’s most famous cyclist who tragically died on the slopes of the mountain during the 1967 Tour de France, and soon after here the road steepens one final time. The final kilometres of the climb are atmospheric, with views across the whole of Provence, although your eyes will be focused on the distinct red and white tower of the summit.

After reaching the summit, we’ll be descending back to Sault where we will spend our second evening.

Day 4
Sault to Forcalquier
40 Miles / 64 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch
  • Ascent: 800 Metres Approx.

Leaving Sault, we begin our day by tracing minor and virtually traffic-free roads through a series of small Provencal villages and towns as we make our way to Forcalquier. It’s a very pretty route in a region virtually untouched by tourism, the roads are quiet and the air full of the scent of lavender and pine.

Our route takes us via Simiane-La-Rotonde, Simiane is a town where Alpine and Mediterranean influences meet, and here you will see both olive trees and lavender growing. It forms the apex of a triangle of the Luberon, Lure Mountain and Ventoux and their different landscapes, a major stop on the road of lavender, perfume and aromatic plants.

The roads are generally undulating but do have the occasional challenging climb to keep us dancing on the pedals. Intentionally a shorter than average day to allow a little recuperation from yesterday’s climbing challenge!

Day 5
Forcalquier to Moustiers Ste Marie
49 Miles / 78 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch
  • Ascent: 1,100 Metres Approx.

Moving out of Forcalquier we drop into the Plateau de Valensole, as the name suggests it’s a (relatively!) flat start to the day as we wind our way through the primary lavender growing region of Provence. The plateau itself is dramatic, especially when the lavender as in full bloom, an ocean of purple set against the sky and occasional jagged peaks of the mountain range behind. With the light that Provence is so renowned for this area is popular with artists and photographers.

The morning is spiced up with a climb or two as we make our way through the almond woods that grow in the area. Of course, what goes up…must come down and we’re soon enjoying a thrilling descent toward the charming and picturesque village of Moustiers Saint Marie. Perched precariously on a cliff edge, we can see the village above us as we approach and our final few kilometres take us up through its narrow streets. Moustiers-Sainte-Marie is situated just a few km from the shores of Lac de Sainte Croix and the gateway village to tomorrow’s challenge; the Gorge du Verdon.

Day 6
Moustiers Ste Marie to Castellane
47 Miles / 75 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch
  • Ascent: 1,700 Metres Approx.

Today is for many the most memorable ride of the tour. Leaving Moustiers we head for the lake, riding the shoreline for a few km to the mouth of the gorge where we have a chance to view the brilliant aquamarine waters spilling out into the lake from between the steep sided rocks. The southern rim of the gorge, which we will be riding, isn’t the more challenging option but it is certainly the most dramatic and the most rewarding way to experience this area of outstanding natural beauty. It is also the least visited side of the Verdon Gorge and has considerably less traffic. We’ll climb steadily for an hour or so on roads that cling to the rock edges with occasional viewpoints where we can stop and peer down into the gorge and the river far below.

As we follow the edge of the gorge the road drops down dramatically in a roller coaster of a descent before we finally rise again, emerging onto a plateau and leave the gorge behind. For the final part of our day we head north on a minor road, following the river, as we approach our destination of Castellane, and we will be able to see its famous church perched dramatically high above the town on its own rock plinth. If you have energy to spare then you can walk to the top of this vertiginous view point. Alternatively Castellane is a pretty and busy market town with lots of narrow streets filled with bars and cafes for a post-ride drink.

Day 7
Castellane to Vence
47 Miles / 75 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch
  • Ascent: 1,100 Metres Approx.

Castellane itself is at the bottom of a hill so the day begins with a couple of climbs but the gradients are friendly and the views are spectacular. So despite ticking of another col of just over 1,000m the riding does not feel too arduous. Soon enough things level out and our journey down to the coast starts to really take shape. However, we don’t have to put all the climbing behind us, an optional extra for the brave is the Col de Vence which overlooks our destination and the sparkling Mediterranean Sea, a picturesque way to complete a stunningly beautiful week of riding.

If we decide to ride the col we’ll be approaching it from the easier of the two sides and will end the day with a superb and thrillingly fast descent into Vence, a fitting finish to both the days ride and our tour of Provence. Vence is a 12th century medieval city which was once home to the artist Henri Matisse, who drew his inspiration from the colours and light of this region. The stunningly beautiful Rosaire Chapel, with its vivid blue roof tiles and luminescent stained glass windows is a monument to his talents. Vence is very beautiful, its narrow streets littered with galleries and arty cafes. We should arrive with enough time to explore and enjoy it to the full before relaxing together for our final celebratory meal.

Day 8
Departure: Nice Airport
Non Riding Day
  • Meals: Breakfast

After a buffet breakfast we will start making our transfer to the airport for our onward journeys. Or maybe you may wish to stay and explore some more of the region and sample a few more glasses of its famous Rose wines?

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The Cycling

Terrain

Our route is mainly on minor roads and quiet country lanes. The terrain ranges from flat plateaux to mountain ascents. The route is fairly challenging with enjoyable and manageable climbs featuring most days. The ascent of Mont Ventoux, which can put fear into legs, lungs and heart of even the strongest cyclist, isn’t beyond achievement, as our route will see us take on the easiest and most gentle of the 3 ways up. It’s still a challenge and the last section will almost certainly get the pulse racing.

Road surfaces in Provence are generally good although some of the more minor roads may include uneven sections, occasional potholes and gravel patches. Road surfaces in Provence are generally good although some of the more minor roads may include uneven sections, occasional potholes and gravel patches. Caution should be exercised, especially when descending.

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Road Cycling Grade

1
2
3
4
5
Grade 3 : Moderate

45-60 miles / 70-95 kms per day

For riders with experience, good fitness & a decent level of skill

Some features that may be experienced more frequently in a higher grade tour

Most days include a couple of significant climbs

Some long days & some steep to very steep sections

Not for beginners

Our grading guidelines have been carefully created based on our many years of cycling experience, as well as customer feedback from our trips. Of course, if you're still struggling to figure out where you fit on the scale, do feel free to give us a quick call and we'll be more than happy to help!

For more information about our grading system click here.

Is this suitable for you?

You’re definitely not a novice rider, you’re fit, you ride regularly at weekends, sometimes staying on the bike for much of the day, you love your bike! You also enjoy a challenge and if you haven’t already done so you’re keen to attempt a semi-serious to serious mountain pass or two. You’re as comfortable with the prospect of descending from the top of a col as you are with the idea of climbing it and you’re confident that you have the skills to do so safely. You’re not necessarily a “racer” but you can crank up the pace a little when it’s necessary and you don’t mind forgoing a coffee stop if the schedule demands it occasionally. You probably own and use clipless pedals. You have good control of your bike and can take a drink from a water bottle without having to unclip and put your feet on the ground. Whilst you find a full day in the saddle fulfilling you’re not obsessed and as much as you are looking forward to the riding on your holiday, you’re also looking forward to a little local culture and cuisine. Grade 3 would be a good option for you.

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We will be back with a few more friends, I have no doubt! The tour leader ensured everyone had a great trip with great skill.

Joel, Devon

Dates & Prices

Private Departures

Private Departures

Are you keen to only travel with your family or friends? Struggling to find the right date? Well, we can organise a private departure for this tour and tailor aspects to suit your group's specific needs. Contact our friendly team and we'll help you turn your dream into reality.

Start Date
End Date
Duration
Price p.p.
Start Date
09/05/2021
Return Date
16/05/2021
Duration
8 days
Price
£1,850.00
Start Date
19/09/2021
Return Date
26/09/2021
Duration
8 days
Price
£1,850.00

Whats Included Tick

A) Hotel accommodation (shared twin rooms)

B) Meals as per the itinerary (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)

C) Full tour service including Skedaddle guides

D) Unless stated, at least one leader qualified in first aid

E) Support vehicle and luggage transfers

F) Airport transfer on scheduled arrival day from Marseille Airport (MRS)

G) Airport transfer on scheduled departure day to Nice Airport (NCE)

What's not Included Cross

A) Bike hire (available if required)

B) Flights and charges for travelling with your bike (if applicable)

C) Meals not stated in the itinerary

D) Travel insurance

E) Single room (available if required)

F) Personal clothing and equipment

G) Personal expenditure (souvenirs, bar bills, hotel facilities etc)

H) Entrance to museums and other attractions en route

I) Airport transfers on days other than the scheduled arrival / departure days

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The Essentials

Travel Options

Group airport transfers are included in the cost of your holiday and both the arrival into Marseille airport (MRS) and return transfer from Nice airport (NCE) will be co-ordinated with the group flight schedule. Please note – If you make travel arrangements that fall outside of the scheduled transfer windows, there may be an additional charge for individual transfers.

We will provide you with details of suitable flight/arrival/departure schedules as flight timetables become available. Please check with us before making any travel arrangements, to make sure we have reached the minimum number required to guarantee your holiday and to ensure your arrangements fit with our scheduled transfers.

Accommodation

Accommodation (shared twin or double rooms) will usually be en-suite in 2 and 3 star hotels, chambre d‘hôtes and local auberges. Our accommodation has all been hand-picked and chosen for their room and service quality, as well as their food quality and, of course, French charm.

Bike Hire

If you don’t own a suitable bike or would prefer to avoid bringing your own we have bikes available to hire. These bikes are Scott Addict 20 or alternative brand equivalent, great bikes with good quality components. If you do decide to hire a bike we can include a helmet and all necessary spares for the trip. Please request helmets when booking. The bikes come with flat pedals as standard, so if you prefer to ride with clip-in pedals please bring your own pedals along with you.

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