Cycling Mont Ventoux, France is top of many people’s must-do list of rides. It’s a giant of a mountain that’s steeped in cycling legend.
If you’re wondering where to base yourself for a Mont Ventoux cycling holiday, we’d suggest either:
Bédoin is a small, charming town at the base of Mont Ventoux. It has a strong cycling pedigree and lives and breathes cycling during the summer months.
Alternatively, base yourself in the Luberon. We think it’s one of the best places to cycle in France. It offers fabulous riding on quiet roads to ancient perched villages, abbeys, castles, lavender fields and vineyards. The terrain is varied, and there are routes that will appeal to all: from flat valley riding to rolling hills. And, for those targeting Mont Ventoux, it’s just around the corner.
Want to cycle Mont Ventoux?
In this guide, you’ll find detailed information on the routes up Ventoux as well as some awesome rides in the Luberon.
We also give accommodation suggestions and bike hire options for Bédoin and the Luberon. Read on for all you need to plan your next cycling adventure.
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All metrics in this article are approximate.
Routes: Cycling Mont Ventoux and beyond
Mont Ventoux routes
For many cyclists visiting the Luberon and Provence, it’s all about the Mont Ventoux climb.
The Giant of Provence, the Bald Mountain, the Lonely Mountain. Whatever you choose to call it, it towers above the Provençal countryside and is one of the world’s most iconic rides. It’s a big part of Tour de France history, books have been written on it, Tom Simpson died cycling it. The weather can be extreme. It is a dangerous, mythical, semi-religious place. It’s a ride every serious road cyclist should do at least once in their life.
There are three different Mont Ventoux cycle routes: check out our three guides below. They include Ventoux route maps, gradient profiles and GPX downloads
If once up Mont Ventoux isn’t enough…
If you think you’ve got what it takes, here are some more Mont Ventoux challenges – in ascending order of craziness:
- Granfondo Mont Ventoux. In 2016, the 130km route had an elevation gain of 3,600m. The 78km route had an elevation gain of 2,390m.
- Les Cinglés du Ventoux. You’ll need to cycle all three routes (up and down) in a day, in whichever order you like. If you complete this, you’ll be doing 72 km of climbing with 4300 meters of vertical gain.
- Bicinglette – double the Cingles! It requires six ascents and six descents within 24 hours.
Are you a member of the Club des Cingles du Mont Ventoux? Let us know in the comments below if you have attempted any of these Mont Ventoux cycling challenges – or if you plan to. We’d love to hear from you.
Don’t miss our Q&A on the Cinglés du Ventoux, with lots of firsthand tips and suggestions for how to conquer it.
Other top rides in the Luberon, Provence
There is another side to cycling in Provence, far away from Mont Ventoux: the less famous, easier going rides through bucolic countryside. The region is a wonderful place to cycle even if you (or someone you’re travelling with) doesn’t want to cycle Mont Ventoux itself. Creamy stone pool villas dot the countryside, there are markets to explore, superb restaurants in quiet villages, excellent little known wine producers, swimming lakes and bike paths for the kids too.
Two of our favourite Provence cycling routes are below.
1. Highlights of the Northern Luberon
Elevation gain 1,185m
If you’ve only got time for one ride in the Luberon, make it this one; the showcase for Luberon cycling.
The route takes you past lavender fields, perched villages and some of the region’s most iconic sites, including Chateau de Lacoste, Abbey de Sénanque, Village des Bories and Le Sentier des Ocres in Roussillon.
The real difficulty will be resisting the urge to stop all the time to take photos and visit these amazing places.
Tip: If you’re looking for a longer ride, tack on the 38km perched village ride.
2. Highlights Of The Southern Luberon
Elevation gain: 838m
This fabulous loop gives you a taste of the Luberon on the south side of the Luberon Mountains.
The ride starts with the unforgettable twisting and turning descent of the D943 gorge road, surrounded by immense grey stone walls.
Once you’re out of the gorge, the riding is more mellow through vineyards, past castles and through ancient villages. The small lake surrounded by 200-year-old plane trees at Cucuron is a particular highlight.
If you’ve got time, we’d also recommend a stop in beautiful Lourmarin.
Signposted cycling routes in Provence
For those that don’t like following a Garmin, there is a range of excellent signposted routes:
Family rides around the Luberon, Provence
Here are some ideas for Provence cycling holidays with kids:
Veloroute – Voie Verte du Calavon
A superb bike path begins near the village of Coustellet and follows the Calavon valley for 37km. It’s almost flat (189m elevation gain over the whole ride), and much is well away from the road. One of the highlights is passing the Pont Julian Roman bridge.
Perched villages loop
This 38km loop takes in some of the Luberon’s most attractive perched villages:
Tip: with 634m climbing, this route is only suitable for older children that are keen cyclists.
Provence cycle tours
If you’d like some help with organising your trip to Provence, check out our article on the best Provence bike tour operators.
Remember to double-check accommodation bike storage arrangements (and any other services you need) before booking as policies often change.
Mont Ventoux hotels and cycling accommodation
Tip: See below for our Luberon accommodation suggestions
If your sole focus is Ventoux and you want to ride it multiple times, you’ll want to consider hotels near Mont Ventoux. Staying in or around Bédoin will give you easy access.
We haven’t stayed in Bédoin ourselves, but we would consider:
Hotel Crillon Le Brave, Crillon le Brave
Chateau de Mazan, Mazan
Hotel des Pins, Bédoin
Hotel La Garance, La Colombe
Where to stay in The Luberon
If you’re looking for a more all-around holiday destination and are just planning to ride Ventoux as a one-off, we’d suggest staying in the wonderful Luberon National Park. We think it’s the best base for cycling in Provence and it gives easy access to Ventoux. Depending on where you stay, it’s around 35-40km south of Bédoin.
Our favourite town in the Luberon is Bonnieux, because of its commanding position, winding streets and superb restaurants.
It’s swiftly followed by:
Read on for Luberon villa and hotel suggestions!
We have stayed in three different villas in the Luberon. All were gorgeous, and we would happily recommend them to friends.
(If you’re after a hotel, check out our suggestion below.)
La Marachale, near Bonnieux
Pretty two bedroom, two bathroom first-floor apartment in an 18th century Provençal farmhouse, between Bonnieux and Lacoste.
What we loved
Things to know
Three bedroom townhouse in the centre of Roussillon
This beautifully furnished old house has a fabulous town centre location.
What we loved
- The house is 50m from the market square. It feels very special to amble to the boulangerie in the morning and wander home after a wonderful evening meal, when the tourists have gone home, and the quiet streets are your own.
- Unusually for a town centre house, there’s a pretty garden area with a vine-covered ground floor terrace, an upper terrace with beautiful panoramic views across the hills and a small swimming pool.
- It feels like you’re staying at a wealthy friend’s much-loved home (but with just their nicest things on display!). It is tastefully personalised with antiques and artwork and has a lovely warm atmosphere.
Things to know
- Parking is in the public car park just up the hill at the top of town. A car parking permit is provided.
Les Genets near Lourmarin
A beautifully styled, three bedroom, two bedroom house in the village of Vaugines, 5km from Lourmarin
What we loved
- The house is nicely decorated with smart, modern furnishings. It’s recently built, but in a traditional style. The enormous rounded terrace doors in the living area, creamy stone finishings and traditional blue shutters make the house feel solid and well built.
Things to know
- The third bedroom has bunk beds.
Hotels in the Luberon
Our next cycling trip to the Luberon will definitely incorporate a stay at the Coquillade Village in Gargas.
- The hotel includes the BMC Cycling Center, a 200m² showroom where you can rent all sorts of bikes including top-end road bikes.
- Other facilities include a 1,500m² spa that offers cycle specific massages, a gourmet restaurant, bistro and Italian restaurant, and a 36 hectare vineyard
We have listed below some companies that should be able to help with bike rental for Mont Ventoux and the wider Luberon/Provence region. We have always taken our bikes with us, so haven’t tried these suggestions.
Prices, services and bike brands often change. Please let us know if anything is incorrect.
Prices, services and bike brands often change. Please let us know if anything is incorrect.
Bédoin, Mont Ventoux bike hire
If you’re looking for Mont Ventoux bike hire, you’ll find lots of options in Bédoin for bike hire. We haven’t rented a bike in Bédoin, but we’ve heard good things about the following:
La Route du Ventoux
57 Route du Mont-Ventoux 84410 Bédoin
+33 (0)4 90 67 07 40
|La Route du Ventoux is also known as France Bike Rentals as the owners of La Route du Ventoux are part owners of France Bike Rentals, a company which rents and delivers bikes all over France.|
1, Avenue de Verdun, 84340 Malaucène
+33 (0)9 62 30 25 73
Route de Saint Trinit, 84390 Sault
+33 (0)4 90 64 09 32
Luberon bike hire
There are lots of places to rent bikes in the Luberon and Provence and we’ve listed some below.
Rent Bike Luberon
2, Rue Marceau, 84 480 Bonnieux
+33 (0)7 78 68 34 94
Sun e bike
1 Avenue Clovis Hugues, 84480 Bonnieux
+33 (0)4 90 74 09 96
|You need to contact them about road bike hire since they primarily rent electric bikes.|
BMC cycling centre
Coquillade Village, Le Perrotet, 84400 Gargas
+33 (0)4 90 74 71 71
|The cycle centre is part of the Coquillade Hotel. We contacted the hotel to check it is possible to hire bikes if you are not a guest and they told us: “You can hire our bikes if you do not stay at the hotel. However, the bike always must return in the evening at the Rental Shop.”|
ZAC Saint Martin, 84120 Pertuis
+33 (0)4 90 09 17 33
Conservatoire des Ocres D104 84220 Roussillon
+33 (0)4 90 90 14 62
Undecided on whether to hire a bike or bring your own? Read this.
When to go
Our favourite time to visit the Luberon and Ventoux is June when it’s hot, without being ridiculous, the lavender fields look and smell amazing, and the roads aren’t inundated with families on school holidays. That said, we’ve visited in July and (contrary to what most people say!) preferred it to September simply due to the lavender fields being in flower and the reliably hot days.
It comes down to your priorities. Hopefully, this chart will help you decide. The weather on Ventoux is changeable whatever the time of year and the Mistral may well be blowing hard – even in high summer.
If you want to cycle Ventoux, check the Mont Ventoux weather forecast before you set out.
|January||Ventoux climb closed.|
Ventoux may be closed, depending on weather and which route you want to ride.
May still be a bit of snow at the top of Ventoux and unlikely to see the lavender fields in bloom. But tourist numbers should be low, and the heat shouldn’t be too intense.
Warm days for cycling, without the intense heat of July/August, fewer tourists and, in late June, the lavender fields should be in bloom.
School holidays in France, UK (from mid-July) and US; Le Festival d’Avignon makes the area particularly busy; and it could be very hot. But you should see lavender and sunflowers in full bloom.
School holidays in France, UK and US; intense heat will make Ventoux hard work. But you should see lavender and sunflowers (lavender is generally harvested from mid-July to late August).
Can get some heavy rain/thunderstorms and the lavender will have been harvested but generally a good combination of lower temperature and fewer tourists. Great for foodies: markets packed with ripe produce, e.g. Cavaillon melons.
Earlier on in October, you may well have good temperatures and clear roads for climbing Ventoux. Towards the middle and end of the month, the road may be shut depending on weather and route.
Ventoux may well be closed, depending on weather and which route you want to ride.
Ventoux climb closed.
Books and maps
Luberon and Mont Ventoux maps
Daniel Friebe’s coffee table sized Mountain High is an excellent addition to any cycling library. It covers a selection of Europe’s greatest climbs, including Mont Ventoux. It has four pages of the cycling history of Ventoux as well as good photos and profiles of the Bédoin and Malaucène routes.
Alternatively, Simon Warren’s (almost) pocket-sized 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs Tour de France gives a brief but practical description of Ventoux.
Ride a Stage of the Tour de France by Kristian Bauer is in a similar vein. It is a translation from the German original published in 2006, but don’t let that put you off. It’s in a slightly larger format than Warren’s book, and so has more room for detail. It includes ten pages on Ventoux, covering the Bédoin and Malaucène routes, and including maps, profiles, photos and history.
Tom Simpson and Mont Ventoux are practically synonymous. His death on Ventoux is a prominent part of the mountain’s history. These books will fill you in.
If you would prefer something a bit lighter:
DVDs of Tour de France highlights will of course feature Ventoux. There is also Virtual Rides Ventoux Cycling Training if you want to have Ventoux as your backdrop as you train for your ride.
Things to do in Provence (when you’re not cycling)
If you’re looking for inspiration for what to do when you’re not cycling, this helpful article gives you 7 days of things to do and see in Provence.
Good to know
Mont Ventoux: Tour de France history
- Britain’s Tom Simpson died on Mont Ventoux on July 13, 1967, during the Tour de France. Exhausted and dehydrated, he collapsed near the top of the climb. In a state of delirium, he was heard to utter “Put me back on my bike!” Sadly he died on the way to hospital. Alcohol and amphetamines were found in his blood. Thousands visit the memorial to Simpson on Ventoux each year. He was 29 and the first British rider to have a genuine chance of winning the Tour.
- In 2016, a motorcycle-induced crash damaged Chris Froome’s bike. He ended up running about 100m up the mountain until he was given a neutral service bike (his team car was too far back).
- The altitude of Mont Ventoux seems to be open to debate. You’ll see a range of heights for its summit – anything from 1,909 metres to 1,912 metres.
- For information on the Cingles Ventoux challenge, see above.
Over to you!
We hope you’ve enjoyed our guide to the Ventoux and Luberon/Provence region. Drop us a line or let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
Want to check out some other destinations? Search for more amazing cycling destinations and if you know when you want to travel, speed up the decision process by filtering by the month you want to travel.
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