Distance: 102km | Duration: 3 hours at a leisurely pace, 2 hours in sports mode | Level: Easy
Nicolas Grumel, journalist.
He’s been hitting the road for over 20 years. The lover of Provence shares his experience with you. He tried out the route during a 2-hour motorbike ride…
Mont Ventoux (1909m) isn’t just a beacon for cyclists; it’s just as appealing to motorcyclists. The ride to the top from Malaucène via Mont-Serein (1445m) is a fantastic coastal drive. The perfect surface and endless twists and turns will have even the most timid riders cornering lines.
But before tackling it, we went for a ride in the cliff-side village of Séguret in the midst of vineyards as you leave Violès. This is the Côtes-du-Rhône road. In September and October watch out for winemakers’ vehicles and the trail they leave on the road… A little further away, Vaison-la-Romaine, its relics and high medieval village attract tourists. The motorcyclists headed to Malaucène lined with a perfect row of plane trees which you’re not allowed to skid between. We got a meal at one of the many al fresco eateries on this must-do route before taking on the legendary, one and only Mont Ventoux…
We wore down our tyres in the bends and had fun looking out for the next turn in the distance…This 20km stretch between Malaucène and Mont Serein is worth the trip ! The constant twists and turns on a quiet and wide road (the opposite side is far busier) is a dream for thrill seekers. The only niggle on the perfect tarmac is the pine cones that fall in rapid succession from the forest that the road runs through…make sure you don’t ride on one in the middle of a bend or else you’ll get closer to the tarmac than you’d like.
MONT VENTOUX, A MUST-DO!
After Mont Serein resort, you get back onto a narrower stretch of hairpin bends. It’s all worth it when you reach the Ventoux weather station. The place inspires respect. Usually with the wind in your face, you can gaze at this famous mineral landscape made up solely of scree and stripped of any plants by the gusts. It’s like being on the moon!
Between Mont Serein resort and the top of Ventoux, get your fleece out of your tank bag. You’re going over 1800m high. You may have sweated under the sun lower down but as soon as the temperature drops, anything damp turns cold so you’ll be glad you’ve brought your thermals…even in summer.
On the way back down you’ll realise why you haven’t taken on Ventoux on the Bédoin side. Cyclists come from the world over to hit the lunar tarmac so it’s worth being careful on the way back. There are lots of bikes, they take up the width of the road and are often followed by a low-key assistance vehicle with flashing lights in case there’s an accident…On this side, the RD 974 road is narrow to the bottom. Accidents can be fatal so be careful on the way back down.
In Bédoin you can stop, take off your fleece and discuss the thrills on the handlebars. After a get-together, the group of motorcyclists took a more leisurely ride pottering through age-old villages such as Crillon-le-Brave, nestled on a hill where the cypress trees tell you which way the wind is blowing.
CARE AND REWARD…
The surface slacks off around Château de Barroux where the tax collector would look out for travellers on the road below. After getting through this compulsory stage, we rode with excitement into the Dentelles de Montmirail, a rocky setting home to vineyards and rolling hills along a pleasant, albeit narrow and steep-sided road. It’s not easy especially as it’s at the end of the journey when tiredness is setting in. But reaching the village of La-Roque-Alric built on a limestone rock is worth the wild detour.
The last stop on this motorbike trip to Mont Ventoux is Beaumes-de-Venise where fans of fruity and alcoholic beverage can fill up on muscat. Then it’s back to Violès where the vineyards have taken over the plain where we relaxed and reflected on the day’s adventure during our fantastic motorbike ride.