Verdon and Mont Ventoux

The south of France is legendary for its dramatic scenery, from the heights of Mont Ventoux to the depths of le Grand Canyon du Verdon. This tour is a perfect way to challenge yourself and take in the sights...

Price

£1,995.00 per person*

($2,753.10 USD or $3,451.35 AUD)

£0.00 deposit

£425.00 single room supplement

Dates

There are currently no scheduled dates for this tour, but please contact us if you want to schedule a private tour for six or more people.

Contact Us

Thanks David and Sue for showing us through some stunning country. The Gorge was jaw dropping! Some of the riding was challenging (Ventoux!!!) but a huge sense of achievement.

-- Alec and Stephanie, Calgary, Alberta.

Highlights

  • Mont Ste Victoire, the inspiration for many of Cézanne’s (an Aix resident) paintings
  • Lac Ste Croix, a stunning artificial lake created for hydroelectric power
  • Grand Canyon du Verdon, a natural gorge carved some 700m deep in the Canjuers plateau
  • Montagne de la Lure, similar in height and aspect to le Ventoux
  • Le Mont Ventoux, veteran of many Tours, scene of victories and tragedy, and on this tour the chance to tackle all three ascents in one day

Joining the tour

Start

Aix-en-Provence TGV or Marseille airport

Finish

Avignon TGV or airport

Cycling level

8 out of 10

View Gallery

Our new road bike adventure is a fantastic way to explore the dramatic scenery of the South of France and to tackle the legendary Mont Ventoux – taking in each of the three ascents (for the brave of heart!)

Starting in the beautiful town of Aix-en-Provence, the route heads north-east towards the breathtaking, both in terms of scenery and physical effort required, Grand Canyon du Verdon, a 30 km gash in the Canjuers plateau plunging 700m nearly vertically to the river below. We then descend and climb across the Durance plain, heading north over the Signal de la Lure before turning west to approach the end of the week’s challenge – all three ways up Ventoux in a single day. This is of course optional and we are able to advise on a range of routes to suit all abilities! We drop off in Avignon, well connected by the TGV and small airport.

To view a map of the Verdon and Ventoux tour route click here

Day 1

We collect from Aix-en Provence TGV for a very short transfer to our hotel in town. Morning arrivals can take a loop out to the village of Rognes to warm up the legs and get a taste of the scenery to come later in the week.

Day 2

Riding out towards Vauvenargues, where Picasso lived and is buried in a hilltop chateau, the road is gentle before the sharp Col des Portes at 631m. The route rolls through Rians, Tavernes, and Aups where we head north towards Moustiers Ste Marie. On the way, a 6km climb rewards us with a stunning view of the Lac Ste Croix. A short descent is followed by a short climb into the town where our hotel awaits.

Total distance for the day: 112km

Climbing: 1550m

Day 3

Today is a circular route, and we stay in the same hotel tonight. The route goes back around the northern end of theLac Ste Croix before taking in the full length of the stunning Grand Canyon du Verdon, as well as theBalcons de la Mescla, dropping down and climbing up around the edge of this geological phenomenon. Our route takes us to several outstanding viewpoints, including theCol de l’Olivier (711m) and the Col d’Aven (1,023m).

Total distance: 124km

Climbing: 2770m

Day 4

After yesterday’s exertions today is a little easier, at least in the morning, as we traverse the Durance plain to move north to begin the approach towards le Ventoux. There is another mountain to conquer before that however, in the shape of the Montagne de la Lure, an 1100m climb after lunch to keep the legs sharp for the end of the week. From the top we roll down intoSisteron, an old fortified town with the remains of the town wall still visible, to our hotel in the centre.

Total distance: 130km

Climbing: 2270m

Day 5

We head west from Sisteron today and take a stunning road across the north of le Mont Ventoux – le Géant de Provence is visible in the afternoon as a reminder of what is to come tomorrow. The climbing today is not too demanding, with two medium climbs in the Col de la Pigière (968m) and the Col de Macuègne (1068m) before rolling over an unmarked crest of 550m and the Col de Veaux (386m) into wine-growing country around Entrechaux and our hotel near Crestet. As it’s a shorter day, we might have time to arrange for a wine tasting – this is the heart of the Côtes-du-Rhône region!

Total distance: 88km

Climbing: 1200m

Day 6

There is a select club of cyclists who have ridden all three different ascents (departing once each from Malaucene,Bedoin, and Sault) of le Mont Ventoux in one day, and today is your chance to join that club. The record currently stands at eleven separate ascents from Bedoin in one day, but we don’t recommend attempting that! There are a number of options to think about, and your guides will be able to recommend routes according to what you want to do; one ascent, two, or all three. Starting from Crestet means we can tackle either Bedoin or Malaucene first, leaving Sault (the ‘easiest’) for last, or spin around the south of the mountain through the beautiful Gorges de la Nesque to start from Sault. Whichever you choose to do, the feeling of having ridden any of these climbs, and the view from the top (fingers crossed for a clear day with views to Mont Blanc to the North and the Pyrénées to the West), is unforgettable. Our hotel is in Bedoin, meaning that the superb descent down the famous Tour climb is your last ride of the week. For this final day guides may not be able to be with each group for the full day, but will endeavour to ensure that everyone is supported where possible.

Total distance: variable (max 125km)

Climbing: variable (max 4500m)

Day 7

After breakfast we will arrange your transfers to Avignon for onward flights and trains.

Not all cycle vacations are the same. Compare what is included in a French Cycling Holidays sports tour:

  • Flexible collection from local airport or train station
  • Quality helmets (if required)
  • Water bottles (to take home as souvenirs)
  • Detailed riding instructions and colour route maps
  • Charming 3* and 4* auberges, inns and hotels
  • Buffet style breakfasts with croissants, pastries, meats, cheeses and cereals
  • Gourmet dinners for all 6 nights of your holiday
  • Fine wine (or soft drink alternative) with all evening meals and coffee to follow
  • 2 experienced bilingual guides with each tour
  • Delivery of your luggage to your hotel room each day
  • Entry fees to attractions and historical sites
  • Morning onward transfers
  • An unforgettable experience!

We try to include as much as we can within the price, while keeping things as flexible as possible. With the explosion of low cost airlines and the easy access to the TGV rail system from the UK, we believe that it is more economical and convenient for customers to arrange their own travel to the region. Links to the airlines and railway companies can be found in frequently asked questions.

Transfers

We provide the transfers to and from the local airports and the nearest TGV stations, and other locations by arrangement. If you have driven down, we arrange secure parking for your car and return you to it after the tour.

Hotels

We stay in very comfortable hotels, mostly 3*, occasionally 4*, and very occasionally superior 2* hotels which we choose if they have charm and comfort above their rating. All rooms have en-suite shower or bath facilities.

We select our hotels for their character as well as their facilities, and avoid chains in favour of independent privately run hotels.

Prices are based on two sharing in twin or double rooms. Singles are available on request. Where possible, we choose hotels with swimming pools as there is nothing quite like a dip after a day in the saddle!

It is sometimes necessary to change accommodation for reasons of room availability, minor adjustments to the route or upgrading the hotels. We will always endeavour to use hotels of an equal or higher level of comfort/facilities to those shown – please contact us to check for the most up-to-date information regarding your particular tour.

Meals

All evening meals are included, and we carefully select the restaurants for cuisine and ambience, and favour those with a strong regional flavour.

All meals include a starter, main course and dessert, some will have an additional cheese course. We are happy to arrange for our restaurants to cater for specific dietary requirements and allergies etc. On sports tours we try to make sure that the meals are suitable for a challenging week of cycling!

We do not include lunch, as the costing of these is beyond our control, but where route and weather allow we organise picnics; these feature copious salads, cold meats, cheeses, crusty bread, fruits, etc, and a choice of drinks; we ask for a contribution for the costs of the consumables, which usually works out at 8 or 9 euros per person per picnic. Where route or weather does not allow a picnic, we recommend suitable cafés and bistros.

Bikes & Equipment

Many people prefer to bring their own bikes for sports tours; however, if you would prefer to rent a bike locally, we can provide quality carbon fibre framed road bikes at a reasonable cost. If you are bringing your own bike, we will carry your bike case with us during the week, or arrange for it to be taken to the final hotel and stored.

 

Guides and Backup

There will be two guides on every tour; one cycling with the group and one in the minibus which will follow the group. The bus carries all luggage not required for the day's ride and will always be available for anyone at any point during the day. If for instance you want to take a day off the bike, or if a particular day seems a little hard, the bus will take you for as long or as little as you wish it to.

Everybody is provided with detailed route maps for each day, and both guides are easily contactable by mobile phone. The guides are enthusiastic experts on the local area and will be able to sort out any problems or special requests that you might have.

Hotel St Christophe, Aix en Provence

In the heart of the beautiful town of Aix-en-Provence, the St Christophe is an Art Deco wonder right in the centre of the action. A great spot to have a wander and do some people-watching before we set off into the far quieter hinterlands of the Verdon national park.

 Saint Christophe

Hotel les Restanques, Moustiers Ste Marie

Just a few minutes’ walk from the gorgeous centre of Moustiers Sainte Marie, this hotel is set at the foot of dramatic cliffs and has a fine view over the valley          we’ve come up. Two days here mean plenty of time to enjoy the outdoor pool and explore the streets and alleyways of old Moustiers Ste Marie.

restanques

 

Hotel la Magnanerie, Aubignosc

A few km south of Sisteron, La Magnanerie is calm and peaceful. An old silkworm farm (the word ‘magnanerie’ literally means magnanery or silk farm) converted to a lovely hotel, it’s described as ‘quirky modern’ – we’d say certainly modern and luxurious, with a fine restaurant, but will let you decide on the quirkiness!

magnanerie

Hostellerie du Beffroi, Vaison la Romaine

Set in two adjoining mansions from the 16th and 17th century, high up above the town of Vaison la Romaine, the hotel has been running for more than a century and today offers a unique stay, in style and comfort. There is a pool overlooking the town and the town itself is well worth a visit before dinner.

beffroi

It is sometimes necessary to change accommodation for reasons of room availability, minor adjustments to the route or upgrading the hotels. We will always endeavour to use hotels of an equal or higher level of comfort/facilities to those shown – please contact us to check for the most up-to-date information regarding your particular tour.

Below we answer all the most common questions that you might ask before choosing a French Cycling Holidays tour. If you have any further questions then please get in touch. We look forward to hearing from you.

How fit do I need to be?

Anybody who is reasonably active should be able to take part and enjoy our tours.

The tours have different levels of physical exertion — whilst the Loire Valley tours and Bordeaux tour are easy going; the Normandy, Provence Roman Heritage, and Burgundy tours are a little more strenuous, whilst and the Provence Lubéron, Dordogne and Languedoc tours require a reasonable level of fitness.

For nearly all of our tours an e-bike - electrically assisted bicycle - is an extra-cost option. These bikes apply a 'multiplier' to the level of input provided by the rider, the level of assistance can be adjusted for the terrain. This can be useful if there are members of your party have very different levels of bike-fitness and experience, as hills that look daunting suddenly become easy with an e-bike. Contact us via the contact page if you would like more details.   

The Sports tours are aimed at enthusiast cyclists who might want to bring their own road bikes. However, the rides are not races and there is no time limit - and there is always the minibus if things get too tough!

We would nevertheless recommend that anyone who has not taken any regular exercise for some time to consult their doctor before considering any activity based holiday. Bear in mind that a little regular riding before coming on a cycling vacation will always be a benefit to the experience.

How do I get there?

We pick up and drop off from the nearest international airports and TGV/railway stations to the start of each tour. (We can drop at a nearer airport or station by arrangement if more convenient for you and logistically possible). This gives everyone the option of making their way by the most economical or convenient means. The major options are:

Flying from the UK

Ryanair flies into following airports:

Nimes (for the Provence tours and Languedoc tours; Ryanair also fly out of Beziers and Montpellier for the Languedoc tour); Bergerac (for the Bordeaux tour), Dinard for the Normandy tour, Grenoble for Alpine trips and Pau (for the Classic Cols tour)

Ryanair operates out of Liverpool, London Stansted and London Luton Airports amongst others.

Easyjet flies into Montpellier (for the Provence tours) and out of Bordeaux (for the Bordeaux tour); it flys into Geneva and Lyon for Alpine tours and also out of Nice for the Alpine Raid.

British Airways prices can be reasonable if booked in advance — BA fly into Bordeaux for train transfers to Bergerac (Bordeaux tour), and Marseilles (Provence tours).

If we do not pick up from the airport itself, we will advise on rail connections from the airport to our pick-up points.

Rail for visitors from outside Europe / those already in France

The TGV can be an exceptionally quick way of reaching many French destinations from the UK and from Paris for those flying from overseas or UK regions.

The Eurostar SNCF (French National Railways) TGV websites may be useful. As a guide, London St Pancras to Avignon via TGV takes approximately 6½ hours; Tours takes 4 hours. From Paris Charles de Gaulle airport, the point of arrival for most intercontinental flights, Tours is 1½ hours by TGV, Avignon (for Provence) just over 3 hours.

Brive-la-Gaillarde is 4 hours from Paris by rail for the Dordogne tour. We are more than happy to advise on rail options — please contact us. Internet sales from the French SNCF site ( www.voyages-sncf.com sites are possible but are in French; the approved agency for the US and Canada is RailEurope ; however we are happy to advise and help with the French website.

Driving

This may be a good choice if your French Cycling Holiday is part of a longer stay. We will arrange secure parking for your car at or near our first hotel, and return you to your car at the end of the trip. (Note - this service may not be available on certain long distance sports tours - please check with us). The major ferry and crossing companies from the UK are Eurotunnel, P&O, Brittany Ferries, LD Lines, Speedferries and SeaFrance.

If it is more convenient for you to hire a car Europcar in our experience have the best rates for rentals where the drop-off is at a different location to the pickup.

However you choose to travel, we are very happy to help you sort out your itinerary.

What kind of pedals do you use?

Pedals are obviously fairly important on a cycling tour! We stock the following kinds:

Flat – i.e. no special cleats or grips, these pedals can be used with any kind of footwear. If you do not regularly use special pedals or cycling shoes, we recommend standard trainers/sneakers to wear while riding.

SPD/flat – we also have pedals with one side flat and one side an SPD cleat. This is the standard Shimano SPD compatible system; two bolts and the small cleat pictured on the shoe with the yellow sole. These cleats are ideal for cycling tours as the cleat is usually recessed into the bottom of the shoe. The pedals are visible to the right of the picture.

SPD/flat style pedals

Flats with cages – we have a small number of flat pedals with cages & straps – again if you are not used to this, we wouldn’t recommend starting a tour with them!

Other – we do NOT stock any other pedal systems. If you use any other kind of pedal, you are very welcome to bring your own and our guides can fit them to your bike for the week. However, we would advise against racing-style pedals such as the Look Keo, Shimano SPD-SL or similar, as these tend to have a large, protruding cleat on the sole of the shoe which makes walking around visits or lunch stops (or even nipping into a public toilet!) quite uncomfortable and dangerous. Sports tours are a little different as there are much longer days and less off-the-bike walking – a choice is ultimately up to you though!

Can I use my own bike?

We are happy for anyone to bring their own bikes. However, the budget airlines charge around £50 each way and packing and carriage can be a hassle. Our Trek bikes are of a high standard, and our customers usually express pleasant surprise at the quality of the machines, so it might be a better option to bring your saddle and/or pedals which we will be very happy to fit. In any case there will always be a backup bike should you have a mechanical problem. Please feel free to call us for advice on bike transportation.

What should I wear?

The main thing that people who are not regular distance cyclists worry about is a sore behind. This is not as is popularly thought due to too-hard saddles, but friction between skin and garments. This is why professional cyclists wear skin-tight lycra shorts with padded inserts. Many people feel a bit self-conscious in this sort of gear and your local cycle shop will have a range of padded undershorts which can be worn under normal clothing, or regularly styled shorts with sewn-in padded liners. Otherwise, lightweight comfortable clothing (tee-shirts, shorts, trainers) is ideal, with something warmer like a fleece just in case. As we will be dining well, you might like to take something presentable (but not formal — no-one on a French Cycling Holiday stands on ceremony!) for the evening meal.

How many people on each tour?

As well as being an active holiday, sampling the best that France has to offer, we believe that our trips should be an opportunity to meet people and make new friends. Our groups are limited to a maximum of 16, which is the largest number that we can give a personal service to, and a minimum of 6 people, which we feel is the number needed to achieve a group spirit. If we cannot achieve this number, we may cancel the tour giving a minimum of five weeks notice.

What weather are we likely to encounter?

We time our tours so that the weather should be ideal for cycling for each tour. For that reason we have our Provence and Languedoc tours in the late spring and early autumn, rather than in high summer when it can be too hot to cycle comfortably after 10 a.m. The Loire Valley, Dordogne, Bordeaux and Burgundy tours are more temperate, which is why we concentrate these tours in July and August. We cannot guarantee the weather, but it would be very unlucky to have more than one wet day on any of the tours.

Are there any age limits?

There is no specific upper age limit — the only constraint is a reasonable level of fitness. Children between 10 and 16 are welcome as part of family groups. We do not recommend these tours for children under 10.

Do I need travel insurance?

We require all participants to have travel insurance with full medical cover. It is part of the conditions of our tours that participant should provide evidence of suitable cover. If you have any questions about the cover required please contact us for advice.

What financial protection is in place for my booking?

In accordance with “The Package Travel, Package Tours Regulations 1992” customers of French Cycling Holidays Limited will be indemnified in respect of their net ascertained financial loss sustained arising from the cancellation or curtailment of the declared trip travel arrangements arising solely from the event of the financial failure of French Cycling Holidays Limited.

This insurance has been arranged by Towergate Chapman Stevens through Hiscox Insurance Company Limited.

"A wonderful trip! Super routes and fascinating places that we would have never found on our own. David and Mike made the whole thing work faultlessly. Chapeau!" 

Diane and Moss, Portland OR.


"We were not familiar with the area - what a hidden treasure! Hotels very comfortable and the food was outstanding. And the picnics !!!"

Kevin and Christian, Cape Town South Africa.

"Dear Mike, just a note to say how much we enjoyed our Mont Ventoux cycling tour, and to ask you to pass our thanks on to David and Susan, for whom nothing was too much trouble. Give them a raise!"

Dennis, San Diego CA.

 

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