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Ventoux & the Verdon Gorge

Road Cycling Holidays in Provence

  • A wonderful holiday cycling the best parts of Provence
  • Experience ‘Europe’s Grand Canyon’, the Verdon Gorge
  • Climb Mont Ventoux, the infamous Giant of Provence
  • Stay in charming 3* and 4* hotels in picturesque surroundings
  • Flexible itinerary with daily route choices including challenging optional extras
  • Opportunity to attempt the ‘Club des Cinglés de Mont Ventoux’ challenge: three ascents in one day!
  • Exceptional support from two skilled, fun guides in our highly customised support vehicles
  • Included transfers from and to Marseille airport

Days on the bike

6 days

Seamless, professional and personal. They did what they said they would do in terms of timing with notices so I didn't have to think or do anything myself, a real plus when you are busy all the time. I got the sense early that I was dealing with a really professional, ethical and good company who were very experienced and well organised.

J Carpenter

Introduction

Cycling in Provence is a dream! With its extensive network of quiet roads, pretty villages, fields of lavender, deep gorges and turquoise reservoirs, it’s a glorious destination for a cycling holiday. Throw in Mont Ventoux, one of the most well-known mountains in the world of cycling, and this tour really does have it all! Whilst typically popular with touring cyclists, this hidden gem of a region boasts some of the best cycling roads in all of France, peppered with smaller cols and rolling hills set in unique scenery. It’s stunning at worst and jaw-dropping at best.

For the first half of the week, you’ll explore the area around the river Verdon that runs east to west between the departments of the Var and the Alpes de Haute Provence. Its sun-baked limestone hills have been cut through by rivers running down from the Alps, creating magnificent deep canyons, most notably the Verdon Gorge. At over 20 km long and 300 metres deep it is the deepest gorge in Europe and provides as dramatic a backdrop as you could wish for. Ticking off cols as you go, you then head towards Mont Ventoux, which you have the chance to conquer! After a day in the saddle, the beautiful hotel in Malaucene awaits. You’re based here for the remainder of your holiday, enjoying dinner in the centre of town, before retreating to the calm ambience of the hotel’s private grounds.

The climate is perfect for cycling during the Spring and Autumn when the hoards of tourists that visit Provence won’t be competing with you for space on the tarmac. With two route choices each day, this holiday offers the same flexibility as our other Marmot Classic tours. Despite the terrain being more undulating than mountainous (the Ventoux ascent being an obvious exception!), on the daily Challenge route, there are plenty of tougher options if that’s what you’re after. Our two skilled guides with fully customised support vehicles are there to provide you with exceptional support on the road. While this is a group holiday, they are adept at treating you as an individual and helping you achieve your personal goals.

For more inspiration, you can head over to our YouTube channel to watch our video of this truly remarkable French cycling tour in Provence.

For more information do read our Trip Notes and for the latest travel advice from the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office including security and local laws, plus passport and visa information, check www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.

 

Departure Dates & Prices

Month
Departure
Amount
Single Room Supplement
May
12th May - 19th May
£1650.00
Single Room Sup. £380.00
Sep
22nd Sep - 29th Sep
£1690.00
Single Room Sup. £380.00

We are pleased to offer some tempting discounts off the basic trip cost (not including extras such as single rooms or bike hire):

  • Book & pay your deposit more than 6 months in advance of the start of your holiday for our 5% early bookers discount
  • Get a group of 10+ people together for a 7.5% group discount and, as the group organiser, receive a £150 voucher for your next holiday
  • Be rewarded for your loyalty by receiving a 10% discount from your 3rd Marmot trip onwards

Please note that there is a maximum 10% discount on any holiday.

Map

Itinerary

Day 0: Arrival day

We offer included transfers from Marseille Airport (MRS) and Aix-en-Provence TGV train station to our hotel in Meyreuil (just to the east of Aix-en-Provence). This is a journey of about 30min.

Full travel advice (essential reading before booking your flights) and airport transfer timings can be found in our Trip Notes.

Meet your guides, transfer to the hotel, assemble your bikes and perhaps go for a pre-dinner spin to loosen your legs ahead of the next day’s ride.

Day 1: Meyreuil to Moustiers-Sainte-Marie

Today’s ride offers you an introduction to the range of scenery the area has to offer – from charming, unspoilt villages to diverse forests.

Looking northwards from the hotel, the horizon is dominated by the magnificent Montagne Saint-Victoire with its sheer limestone cliffs. Our route climbs to its base on a great road with ever-increasing views. From here we enjoy a sweeping descent and start undulating our way through beautiful countryside towards our hotel in Moustiers-Sainte-Marie on the edge of the Verdon National Park.

As always on a Marmot Classic tour, you have daily options for extending your cycling. Early in the day, you can detour over the Col des Portes (631m) and the Col du Grand-Sambuc (615m) via the Gorges Vauvenargues. Later, there is the option of a wonderful little road that undulates its way up the Verdon River linking its many lakes. The ride can also be made easier with a tactical transfer in one of the vans after lunch.

Easier route: 76km with 1000m ascent
Classic route: 108km with 1450m ascent [ride profile]
Harder route: 115km with 1750m ascent [ride profile]
Challenge route: 143km with 2300m ascent [ride profile]

Day 2: Day ride into the Verdon Gorge

Considered by many to be the most beautiful canyon in Europe, the Verdon Gorge is genuinely breathtaking. The road that hugs the cliffs of the gorge is an amazing feat of engineering and today you get to appreciate every km of it! With sheer drops to the side of over 500m, big views, and some sneaky climbs, today is set to be one of the most memorable rides of your life.

Warming up on the gentle slopes of the Source de Vaumale (1202m), you enter the gorge proper for some stunning pedalling. Road cycling really doesn’t get any better than this! You leave the gorge for a short while, but only to take in some of the surrounding highlights such as the forgiving slopes of Col d’Ayen (1031m), before returning to enjoy the magnificent gorge scenery and a fabulous descent.

Those choosing the Challenge option today head on to the incredible Route des Crêtes du Verdon (1320m), for yet more spectacular views.

Classic route: 89km with 1700m ascent [ride profile]
Challenge route: 108km with 2300m ascent [ride profile]

Day 3: Moustiers-Sainte-Marie to Sisteron

You start today with a couple of minor undulations and a swift descent before the landscape eventually opens out to reveal wide-open plains of never-ending fields of lavender and sunflowers. Dominating the horizon is the ‘Giant of Provence’, Mont Ventoux; your ultimate destination. For those chasing the Challenge options, a visit to the region wouldn’t be complete without conquering Mt Ventoux’s ‘little sister’ – the Montagne de Lure at 1745m, offering spectacular views to the north into the Hautes-Alpes region.

Tonight we stay in the majestic pre-Roman town of Sisteron with its narrow cobbled streets and magnificent Vauban fortifications. With a somewhat ‘flatter’ day of cycling behind you, we foresee arriving with plenty of time to spare, allowing you to stretch your legs and experience some local culture in the pretty town.

Classic route: 102km with 1100m ascent [ride profile]
Challenge route: 127km with 2300m ascent [ride profile]

Day 4: Sisteron to Malaucene and the vineyards of Gigondas

Today’s route takes you to the pretty village of Sault via the Col de la Pigière (968m), and Col de Macuègne (1068m), which draw cyclists from far and wide for the alluring views of Mont Ventoux.

You leave Sault to join a winding narrow road that hugs the cliffs of the stunning Gorges de la Nesque, descending gently through a series of short tunnels hewn out of the rock. This road is one of the highlights of the region and attracts cyclists and photographers from miles around for its magnificent riding and views of the valley below. Once through the gorge, a few undulations take you via Bédoin to your hotel in Malaucène. There is no escaping the tough decisions you face now: to relax by the pool, meander into the centre of town, or tag on an additional 52km in the hills to the west on the ‘Gigondas’ loop – taking in some beautiful vineyards and rural villages and adding 700m of ascent. It’s your holiday and so the choice is yours!

The Hôtel Ventoux Provence is one of our firm favourites and we stay here for the next 3 nights.

Classic route: 116km with 1600m ascent [ride profile]
Challenge route: 163km with 2300m ascent [ride profile]

Day 5: Day ride from Malaucène - ‘Parc regional des Baronnies Provencales'

The routes we’ve crafted and outlined for days 5 & 6 are interchangeable, depending on the weather forecast. However, one thing is guaranteed – you’re going to have an amazing final two days out on your bike! The mountains to the north of Ventoux are often overlooked, but as you’ll discover, they are stunningly beautiful and offer exceptional cycling opportunities.

Our excursion into the Parc Regional des Baronnies Provencales takes you over the Côte de Bluye (578m), whilst the Challenge route detours early in the ride to take on the Col du Perty (1302m) and the Col St-Jean (1158m).

Classic route: 98km with 1300m ascent [ride profile]
Challenge route: 145km with 2500m ascent [ride profile]

Day 6: Mont Ventoux

Mont Ventoux has featured heavily in the Tour de France since it was first included over 60 years ago. It became infamous when it claimed the life of the British rider Tom Simpson in 1967 and has since become a mecca for cyclists from all over the world wanting to pitch body and mind against its iconic, arid, and rocky moonscape.

We’ll focus our attention today on the most popular sides of this iconic cycling climb, the ascents from Bédoin and Sault, before descending to Malaucène from the summit.

The Classic route takes on the ascent from Bédoin via the Col de Madeleine (451m). The Challenge route also climbs the Bédoin side via Col de Madeleine, before descending from the summit for a second ascent up from Sault.

For tours between June and October, it’s possible to sign up for the ‘Club des Cinglés de Mont Ventoux’ challenge: climbing Mont Ventoux three times in one day on all three roads! Please get in touch at least 30 days before your trip departs, if you’re interested. This is an official route so there’s a registration fee of £55 and successful finishers will be rewarded with not only major kudos but also a certificate and medal.

Classic route: 55km with 1730m ascent [ride profile]
Challenge route: 106km with 3000m ascent [ride profile]
Club des Cinglés challenge: 136km with 4443m ascent [ride profile]

Day 7: Departure day

Sadly, all good things must come to an end. We will transfer you to Marseille Airport (MRS) or Aix-en-Provence TGV railway station, a journey of about 1hr 30min.

Please see our Trip Notes for all travel information, including airport pick-up and drop-off times, which will help you to book the best flight.