Journal

5 days riding around Mt Ventoux

Our challenge for 2024 - 5 days of gravel exploring in the south of France around Mt Ventoux, checking it out from EVERY angle. We did it, and it was awesome!

Mont Ventoux, otherwise known as the Giant of Provence, is a mythical place in the world of cycling. At 1912m of altitude, riding its steep slopes to the top is a bucket list challenge for many a cyclist. Dig a little deeper (as we did) and it’s not just about the tarmac - we found masses of trails for a 100% gravel adventure. Read on to get a taste of what Provence has to offer.

👉 Check out all our upcoming trips to Ventoux HERE

Point to point gravel riding from Sault

Our story starts in the heart of Provence, where vineyards and lavender fields proudly show their colours against a backdrop of hillsides and mountain peaks. Nestled at the foot of Mont Ventoux is the village of Sault, where our adventure begins.

April wasn’t particularly kind to us this year, with the unusually cold temperatures a shock to the system for our team of cyclists. We’re a mixed bag of levels and experience and of both sexes, united by our readiness for this 5 day bike trip, for the challenges we’ll encounter as we test the bike route.

Having spun our legs a little after the long journey to our Basecamp, and tweaked our bikes to get our set-ups just right, we are ready. We mount our steeds for the week and head off in search of adventure (or whatever’s around the corner at least), ably lead by our guide Olivier, who’s called the famous Chalet Reynard home for the last 25 years. And for the ultimate luxury our kit travels in a van with the GravelUp Destination Manager, with whom we cross paths a few times a day for tasty feed stops.

The first kilometres take us through lavender fields, though we are a little too early for them to be in full bloom. The air’s freezing, but the glorious sunshine promises to warm us quickly. We know that the day will be tricky at times, but the beautiful gravel trails provide a constant reminder of why we are here. We are treated to spectacular views over the valleys below from some incredible trails that wind their way across the hillsides.

After a gourmet picnic of delicious local goodies we continue on our way to St-Marcellin-lès-Vaison, where we’ll spend the night. Thankfully the wind dies as we make our way along the slopes of the mighty Ventoux towards Malaucène, without seeing a soul. The trails seem to have been made specifically for gravel bikes, and just for us.

One village we pass through is Brantes. An ancient village right in the north of the Vaucluse département, bordering the Drôme provencal. It’s perched up on the hillside facing Mt Ventoux, as if suspended high above the Toulourenc valley. Just beautiful.

75km later, we roll into our digs for the night. Stone houses tucked between pine trees, and a pool! A total immersion into all things Provençale, with a warm evening and a delicious meal. What more could you want.

Hundreds of trails in sight of Ventoux.

After a hearty breakfast, we’re back on the trails. The easterly wind drops and, as a result, the temperature is perfect. The trails get steeper and sometimes quite technical, but each and every pedal stroke is rewarded by breathtaking views, and every corner reveals another treat.

We all admire the pristine beauty of the landscape, and with over 1000m of climbing tackled already we are all happy to take the time to do so, no matter our fitness levels. At GravelUp it’s simple - no timing, no racing, just pure pleasure in riding and exploring together.

The trails beckon over the course of the next few days, giving each of us as much of a challenge as we’d like. Each twist and turn reveals a different landscape, constantly surprising us in this well known region. Climbing this iconic mountain on the trails takes us into another world, and our perception of Mt Ventoux changes dramatically. We all thought we knew the 3 road climbs (Bedoin, Sault and Malaucène) where there’s always cars, motorbike and plenty of other cyclists for company. Instead we have just the noise of the gravel under our tyres and nature, and a profound and deeply satisfying feeling that the mountain is just for us!

Another area that is not to be missed on our route - the Gorges de la Nesque. They have a surreal beauty, and an unbeatable mix of gravel trails and picturesque roads to boot. Suddenly we all feel an euphoric exhaustion. With heavy legs and light hearts, our final kilometres are already laced with a nostalgia for our journey. Each pedal stroke takes us closer to the end of our epic journey.

Under the watchful eye of Mt Ventoux, which dominates the horizon, we complete our loop of 260km with 5200m+ with a mix of satisfaction and slight sadness.

The memories and connections that we’ve made over the last few days are many, and will last long after our final pedal strokes. We’re already excited for our next bike adventure!

Whether you are an experienced cyclist or new to the world of gravel, join an adventure!

Join our 3 day trip around, and to the summit of, Mt Ventoux.

If you’d like to find out more about our other destinations, you can check out our Trip Directory here .

Journal

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