- 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
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
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.
Road Cycling Grade
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.
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.
Dates & Prices
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.
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
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
A day in the life of a cyclist
We take a trip inside the mind of a regular Skedaddler...
Cycling in France
9 things you’ll only understand if you’ve been cycling in France...
Why We Love Climbing Mountains
What makes it special? The companionship, the scenery, the challenge?
John, Buckinghamshire, UKVery rewarding!
It was a personal achievement to ride long hills/mountains, the bike was ideal for the terrain and the team (Alan, Joe and Will) were excellent (caring, attentive to our needs, very experienced and incredibly well organised).
The accommodation was of a high standard with a luxury hotel to finish off with. I would add that the lunches provided were enjoyed by everyone. In fact, they became an item in themselves and something to look forward to – food appropriate for the rides, good variety and very healthy. The effort the guides made in putting them together were very much appreciated.
Day five was all-round the best day with the long climb up and then out of the gorge providing wonderful views.
I would happily ride with any of the three guides again. What better reference can you give?
Stuart, Notts, UKDid not disappoint!
The hotel le Mas du Pont Roman, Chemin de Chateauneuf had beautiful rooms, and gave good personal service-a delightful experience. But the best was saved till last with the Hotel Les Messugues, Vence. Mont Ventoux did not disappoint and was well worth the effort. Each day offered a different experience, from the lavender fields to the Gorge du Verdon. Tour Leader Alan was excellent, and the encouragement of our guides, Will and Joe, was much appreciated.
Dave, Gloucestershire, UKEverything is to a very high standard!
This was my first cycling trip and it met all of my expectations and stretched me. Skedaddle were excellent at: keeping us informed keeping us safe teaching new skills providing good bikes keeping us topped up with drinks and snacks.
Joel, Devon, UKThanks for a great holiday...
We will be back with a few more friends I have no doubt! The tour leader ensured everyone had a great trip and managed the dynamics of the group with great skill!
Colin, Oxfordshire, UKFantastic cycling holiday...
Absolutely fantastic holiday. The hills were very challenging for me but that just added to the sense of achievement. The group I was with were a great bunch and the weather / scenery were lovely. The guides were both excellend – they were fun, interested, helpful and concerned that we got as much from the holiday as we could. I especially apprecciated encouragements at the back of the group.
Karen, Surrey, UKWe were well looked after...
We were well cared for and looked after on the trip. The Gorge Verdon was a challenging ride wth lovely scenery.
Keith, WalesSpectacular views and fantastic guides...
My first holiday of this kind and enjoyed the whole experience greatly! Considering the lunch was ‘on the road‘, the picnic was very good with lots of choice, far better than I presumed! There was no shortage of appropriate bars and snacks on each ride. We had a very challenging first day which set the standard for the rest of the week. Climbing Mont Ventoux was something I’ve wanted to do for many years. The Gorge de Verdon was challenging but the views and descents were spectacular. The guide leader had a very much fatherly/caring approach with a great sense of humour, a fantastic guide and guy!
Catharine, Bristol, UKMagnificent...
I had a great time – just trying to work out if I can afford to join another tour next year! I was the least experienced in the group – but was made to feel very comfortable and given lots of instruction and help. Mont Ventoux was a great experience and achievement, and definitely the highlight. The Gorges de verdon was superb, and although I complained all the way up the last climb, the final descent was un-missable – Magnificent! I really appreciated the pre-holiday service from Saddle Skedaddle. The last call before I left home made me feel very welcome. The holiday was a lot more money than I usually spend but I will definitely try to come again.