The cycling routes in Provence are simply incredible. If you like fine wines, sleepy small French villages, and enjoy excellent views, you will get a lot out of a holiday here. One thing many people do flock to Provence every year for is the legendary cycling routes and the incredible mountain of Mont Ventoux, which towers above the region.
It is an incredible place to come and cycle with its rich Tour de France history, beautiful traffic-free roads, and the region's love of bikes and cycling. In this article, we will give you some incredible routes to cycle in Provence and tell you about a few of the places you will be passing through on those routes. We will also tell you about some amazing places in the area you must visit and also some tips to help you on your holidays.
Here are our legendary Provence cycling routes. The first five routes start and finish in Joucas, and the last two are in the area surrounding Avignon.
Joucas Route 1 - Gordes, Goult & Roussillon
Route Length - 35.3 km,
Route Elevation - 672 m
This is a round route of the villages of Gordes and Roussillon and encapsulates much of what is great about cycling routes in Provence. You will approach Gordes first, after 8.5km. Gordes is a charming hilltop village facing the Luberon. The beautiful buildings are made out of white stone, and the village's history dates back to the Roman empire. You must experience the Gordes market, which occurs every Tuesday morning and sells soaps, cheeses, olives, and lavender. Make sure to stop at the Town View Point Gordes, nearly 1km after leaving the village - it's iconic!
After you leave here, you are going to be cycling the longest stretch of the route through this beautiful countryside. Soon you'll encounter Roussillon 6km before reaching the end of the ride. Roussillon has inspired artists from everywhere due to the vibrant, picturesque streets. However, the real landmark of this little village is the Ochre Path, which features orange-red rock created by storms at the former ochre mine. The colours and rock are so unlike the natural surroundings of France they could be likened to landscapes in deserts.
Joucas Route 2 - Lacoste, Bonnieux & Roussillon
On this route, you're making your way south to the gorgeous villages of Lacoste and Bonnieux. They are about halfway around the route and great for the mid-ride stop. Lacoste is like stepping back in time. The more you explore, the further into the past you travel. It's extremely beautiful. In particular, the Chateau towers over the top of the village, and the Savannah Art College adds a touch of American to the small French population.
Bonnieux is an incredible place, and you might have seen it used in Hollywood. The film 'A Good Year' was filmed on location here, at the Chateau La Canorgue. We recommend visiting to taste the delicious wines and taking a tour. To get back to the start of the route, you will head north back through Roussillon, which we spoke about earlier and is well worth a visit.
Joucas Route 3 - L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue
Cycling routes in Provence don't come much better than those that involve L'Isle-Sur-la-Sorgue, or Venice of the Comtat, as it's also known due to the many canals weaving through the town. You are going to be heading west starting from Joucas. Famous for its Flea and Food market every Sunday, it is an international attraction. If you can not make it here on a Sunday, there are seven antique 'villages' within the town open year-round with more than 350 dealers.
There are countless art museums to explore, one of which is the Campredon Centre d'Art, which hosts many famous artist's work. The architecture of the town itself is like a piece of art, what with the Gothic and Baroque Notre-dame-des-Anges Collegiate Church. If you take a wander around the canals, you will also notice Renaissance architecture on the Rue Ledru Rollin and the Tour d'Argent dating back to the middle ages.
Joucas Route 4 - Apt & Goult
Today you will loop by the quaint village of Goult. Hidden in the Luberon Nature Park, Goult is a traditional Provence village, sleepy and agricultural in character. The narrow streets are picturesque with an air of secrecy, and if you follow them behind the chateau of Agoult, you'll find the Jerusalem Mill along with breathtaking views over the valley.
Apt is a city descendent from the Romans in 45BC. An incredible part of this route will be on restored cycle paths that used to be part of France's railway network in WWII. Apt is a beautiful market town that is full of small coffee shops and authentic French goods and hospitality.
Joucas Route 5 - Murs, Saint-Saturnin-les-Apt & Roussillon
The route starts by heading north to the little village called Murs. Well worth a visit as Murs is quaint and charming, surrounded by vineyards, orchards, and cherry trees. Perhaps take the time to walk on the part of the city walls, the 'Mur de la Peste', which is 25km long in total and was built in 172.
The next stop is the medieval village of Saint-Saturnin-Les-Apt. Saint-Saturnin-Les-Apt is located 400m high within the Regional Nature Park of the Luberon, which means gorgeous panoramic views. There is a lot of history dotted about this pretty place, including the ruins of a primitive village, castle chapel, and dam. Follow the cobblestone streets up to the chateau to discover these hidden gems of the village. Then we start to make our way back through the gorgeous village of Roussillon that we spoke about earlier.
Avignon Route 1 - Avignon to Mazan
A blend of smooth roads and cycle paths takes you from the cultural hub of Avignon, across the Rhone River, to the historically rich Orange. A great place to stop for lunch, as there are many cafes and restaurants lining your route. Notable places to eat include The Street Food Cafe, La Cantina, and Chez Jules. Also, here is the Theatre Antique d'Orange, built in the 1st century AD. This truly magnificent structure is open to visitors every day of the year.
The last stop on this route takes you to Carpentras. It's a beautiful town filled with incredible architecture and well known for its local art. Although near the end of our route well worth a coffee shop. We finish in Mazan, and this small town is devoted to agriculture and producing the famed Cotes du Mont Ventoux wine, which we highly recommend trying but not having too much in case you need to cycle back.
Avignon Route 2 - Mazan to St Remy Chateau de Roussan
Today, ride through the beautiful, quiet French countryside to Saint-Remy-de-Provence. Starting at Mazan, a little town under the shadow of the incredible Mont Ventoux. On this route, you'll be cycling through quaint villages such as Saint Didier and Noves, along with the well-known town of L'Isle-Sur-la-Sorgue. The roads are beautiful, smooth, and have very little traffic. Ideal cycling route roads.
The final destination on St Remy de Provence is a fitting finish to an incredible ride. It's famous for being the birthplace of the medieval seer Nostradamus and as the place where Vincent van Gogh spent a year in a mental institution. This was because of an incident where he might have taken his own ear off.
Places you must see while in the area
If you are using our routes or planning your own, it's always good to know you're heading in the direction of something interesting. In this next part, we want to tell you about some incredible places that are well worth visiting while in the area.
As far as cycle routes in Provence go, nothing compares to taking a legendary Tour de France mountain. Cycling Mont Ventoux is an experience like no other. This climb is where Chris Froome did his run up the mountain. It is also the mountain Eddy Merckx pushed so hard on a Tour de France stage he finished needing oxygen at the top and also the unfortunate place of the passing of Tom Simpson in the 1967 Tour de France, where now sits a beautiful memorial. The mountain is 1910m high and is an incredible climb worthy of any cycling trip.
Ventoux from Bedoin
The climb of Mont Ventoux from Bedoin is undeniably the most famous. Of the 15 times Ventoux has featured on the Tour de France, the ascent from Bedoin has been the preferred route 14 times. The climb is 21.3 km long, it climbs 1,579 m, and its average gradient is 7.4%.
Ventoux from Malaucene
The Ventoux climb from Malaucene is the arguably the most beautiful route up Mont Ventoux. It's similar to the Bedoin climb in distance and elevation, but it's much quieter with less traffic. The climb is 21 km long, it climbs 1,565 m, and its average gradient is 7.5%.
Ventoux from Sault
Undoubtedly the easiest climb up Ventoux (although not easy) is the route from Sault. It's a longer route than the other 2 climbs up Ventoux but that means that the gradient is diluted across a greater distance. The climb is 24.4 km long, it climbs 1,204 m, and its average gradient is 4.9%.
Gorge de la Nesque
If your looking for incredible views, the Gorge de la Nesque is a phenomenal place to visit with your bike. This is one of of favourite cycling routes in Provence. A cliff-edge road that goes through what they call the Grand Canyon of France. The views are breathtaking, and it is a very quiet area where people come from all over to visit. It's a thrill to ride and great for epic Provence cycling holidays photo albums.
Pont du Garde
One of the best cycling routes in Provence is the route that takes you to the Pont du Garde. The Pont du Garde is an amazing feat of engineering and sits west of Avignon. It's one of the incredible historical landmarks in the area, which takes the form of a bridge that sits over a mighty river. It was built in the first century AD and used to over 50km to the past colony of Nemausus. Over the years since being built, it has been recognised as a UNESCO world heritage site because of its incredible design and its relevance in history.
Isle Sur la Sorgue
L'Isle sur la Sorgue is a beautiful town that sits on the Sorgue river. It's an incredible place to visit because it is so unique and is just everything Provence is about. The town is full of waterwheels and small quiet streets to explore. It's famously known for its weekend markets and fabulous antique stores. The Musée du Jouet et de la Poupée Ancienne is a museum which will definitely be a place of interest if you like well-preserved vintage toys and dolls.
Suppose you want to see some amazing architecture and take in some of the region's histories, a good place to visit in Avignon. It is set on the Rhône River and from 1309 to 1377, was home to Catholic Popes. It wasn't classed as a part of France until 1791, as it was under Papal rule. The highlight of this town is the Palais des Papes (Popes Palace), situated in the center and surrounded by ramparts. If you want more like this, Aix en Provence is another place you must check out.
Famous for its incredible natural beauty, the Luberon region is part of the French Prealps. It features dramatic limestone hills, making this region look, unlike any others. It's full of beautiful olive groves and situated next to stunning medieval hilltop villages. What we think makes it is the views of the forested valleys, which seem to continue as far as you can see.
Top Tips for Cycling In Provence
- Always Carry lots of food and water as although resupply is often on public holidays and some weekends you can find very little is open.
- Try not to underestimate how hilly the region can be. Ensure you look at the climbing of your bike routes before cycling them because it can be tough going.
- Ensure you have good gearing for cycling as some hills can be quite steep, and having a few extra lowers gears makes a cycling holiday here so much easier.
- Carry spares and learn some basic maintenance as although bike shops are everywhere in bigger towns in small villages you can go a while without seeing any spares or repairs shops.
- If you don't want to travel on your bike to the region, you can rent bikes instead. They're many keen cyclists who rent bikes to save on the flight costs, and you even have electric bikes if the bike ride planned is going to be very challenging and you need an edge.
- The French have a few different rules when it comes to cycling, like not wearing headphones. It's worth checking what is allowed and isn't before you go.
The region of Provence Alpes côte d'Azur and has so much to offer. It has some of the best cycling routes in France and sits right on the Mediterranean sea. We highly recommend coming here on a cycling holiday and feel it's not just good for riding your bike but also makes an incredible holiday with lots of places to visit and enjoy.