Guide to the Climb from Malaucene
Cycling Mont Ventoux from Malaucene is not as famous as the Bedoin route up Ventoux but it's absolutely stunning.
Mont Ventoux is arguably one of the most famous climbs when it comes to cycling. Many epic battles have been had on this mountain, and it has got the better of many cyclists. Located in the Provence region of southern France, it's known as the Giant of Provence and towers above the clouds at 1909m. Although considered part of the Alps, what is special about Mont Ventoux is the lack of other mountains of anything near its size in the Luberon range.
Tour De France History
Mont Ventoux is one of the most challenging climbs in the Tour de France. Although many think it is used often, it has only been featured 18 times since 1951, and 10 times the top has been featured as a finish. You might remember some incredible sights happening on this mountain, such as Eddy Merckx riding so hard that by the finish of the stage, he required oxygen and went on to win the tour, as well as the sad passing of Tom Simpson in 1967, who under the influence of drugs, alcohol and exhaustion, gave his life on the slopes of Ventoux. Recent memory will surely become legendary too, such as when Chris Froome's bike broke and the tv cameras witnessed him breaking into a run in his cycling shoes and cleats whilst waiting for a replacement bike!
The route from Malaucene
There are a few different ways to enjoy this mountain but cycling Mont Ventoux from Malaucene is arguably the most beautiful. You have the route south from Bedoin side, east from Sault, and northwest from Malaucene. In this article, we're going to be telling you about the route, which comes from Malaucene. It's an amazing ride which is about the same length as the climb from Bedoin, but much quieter with less traffic.
Malaucenne is a village that takes shape around an old fort. It's a beautiful village with a lot of architecture, mainly from the 16th to 18th century. If you pass through on a Wednesday, the market is on, and we recommend trying some of the famous Malaucenne cherries.
The beauty of going this less popular route is about 2-3km after you have left Malaucene, it gets very quiet, and after a bit of climbing, the views of the Provence start to get incredible. The region is lush and green, and the local agriculture leaves a fresh smell in the air. Right from the start, you're at 7% to 9% elevation, so you'll need to warm up fast. The early section is tough. As you keep digging in, after about 9km, the views improve, and the climbing tapers back slightly where you will get a bit of time to recover while still at 6.5%.
Once you leave Malaucene, the climb begins, and it's going to be a good climb from here. As far as places to resupply on your way up Mont Ventoux via Malaucene, there's little to none, only one about 6km from the top. We recommend taking plenty of food and water to ensure your best performance on the day.
Almost immediately the gradient kicks up to around 8%. There is no warm up to this climb, unlike the roll out through Bedoin or the less challenging start to the Sault ascent. You will climb up through Ventoux's famous pine forests and like the route up Bedoin, there are times where you are totally enclosed by forest, with just your mind for company. There are breaks in the trees though and where you find those, especially at about 10km into the climb, the views over the lavender fields of Provence are epic.
The Middle Section
In the middle part, the views are fantastic, and you will need to make sure that you are taking it all in. As you climb up to the top of the tree line about 11km from the top, the route gets a little nasty as you pass by Beaumont du Ventoux. Here it ramps up to about 9%+ for 4km, and you really need to have your game face on. Less than 6km out, you will start to be able to really appreciate the unbelievable views, but you do get a few nasty 10%+ steep parts that will grab your breath. The further you climb, the scenery changes from green to white limestone, and you know you're getting near the top.
The ride really kicks up to an average of about 10% gradient towards Chalet Liotard. You might want to refuel here as the section after the chalet is also quite tough. If not, be sure to grab some cake and coffee on your descent.
To the Top
On your way to the weather station, the wind picks up, and you'll need to be careful not to get too distracted. Many days of the year, Mont Ventoux can get too dangerous to ride up there as the winds can become so strong. That aside, you have stunning views, and as you hit the top, you will feel like you are sitting above the world as you look down on everything around you alongside the views of the Mont Serein station.
Other Routes up Ventoux
The most famous climb up Mont Ventoux is from Bedoin which you can read about here.
The easiest route up Mont Ventoux is from Sault and you can read about that here.
Check out our route from Avignon to Mont Ventoux here.
Length - 21km
Average Gradient - 7.2%
Toughest Gradient - 12%
Tips for riding Ventoux
Cycling Mont Ventoux from Malauceneis not an easy climb, and it can easily get the better of even the best cyclists, so here are our top tips for tackling the mountain.
Prior to when you go, ensure you have done some training. Although it's easy enough just to drop your pace down lower, you are going to have a much better time climbing this mountain if you feel fitter.
Typically the weather is very good on Mont Ventoux, but be careful of the wind. It can get very strong, and you have to be cautious so that it doesn't catch you off guard. We also recommend leaving early before it gets too hot. If you want a guide on cycling Mont Ventoux in late season, click here.
Food and Drink
There's not a huge amount on the climb, so ensure you have enough food and drink to take the climb. We also recommend using the kilometer markers to know when to eat and drink and to space your food out over the climb.
Try and ride at a sensible pace, as this will just make the experience that much better. Chasing other cyclists who might be quicker can often not end well and in a bonk.
Although it is challenging, don't forget to enjoy the climb and relish in its rich history. Having a cycling holiday at Mont Ventoux is incredible and must be enjoyed as much as possible.