Arrive Cavaillon. You should aim to arrive any time before dinner, please advise us of your proposed arrival time if you are making your own travel arrangements. Our preferred hotel is located 600m from the train station. If you arrive before 1800hrs you should collect your bike from the bike shop otherwise it will be delivered to your hotel. Cavaillon is one of the biggest agricultural towns in France and is well known for its production of Charentais melons from May to September. After moving from St-Jacques hill the town became a prosperous Roman colony in its present site. If you follow the picturesque path to the top of the hill you will have a wonderful view of the week's riding to come from Mont Ventoux to the Luberon.
Follow the flow of the River Durance before the first climb of the day through the historic villages of Merindol and Lauris. Sitting atop a rocky ridge, Lauris offers superb panoramic views across the Durance valley. Continue to the Provencal town of Cadenet, set against red-rock cliffs, where our accommodation is this evening. We suggest a walk around the old village, which is bent around the base of the cliffs. Overlooking the village with fantastic views across the entire countryside is an ancient chateau with numerous underground passages and caves.
We begin the day by passing through one of the most beautiful villages in France. Nestled between vineyards, olive groves and almond trees Lourmarin's winding narrow streets reveal a world of typical Mediterranean architecture. It is worth a visit before tackling the north slope of the Luberon mountain range and the hilltop village of Bonnieux and market town of Apt, situated in the valley on the north face of the Luberon Mountain range. On Saturday's on the left bank of the River Coulon the town turns into a large market where it is possible to purchase anything, definitely worth a visit. We end the day in the colourful village of Roussillon with stunning panoramic views over the Luberon.
Free day. Today you have the choice of a gentle circular ride that takes in the 'Provence Collorado' and the peaceful village of Saint-Saturnin-les-Apt, which is the best option for lunch. Alternatively you can just enjoy a day in Roussillon, considered one of the most beautiful villages in France, with the houses being an array of enchanting colours and a wealth of narrow lanes and craftshops to explore. For the ultimate challenge, we have the opportunity to climb almost 1200m to the summit of Mont Ventoux, a legendary section of the Tour de France for over a century. It is a long ride to the lively town of Sault, which acts as a basecamp for the gruelling ride to the summit of Ventoux, so we recommend booking a transfer with our local operator from Gargas to Sault to begin your ride. Once you're on the climb up the mountain you are able to turn back at anytime and there is a restaurant along the way, the view from the top is well worth the effort. In clear weather it stretches from Mount Viso on the Italian frontier to Mont Blanc.
The day's riding takes you through a variety of pleasant scenery and delightful villages on your way back to Cavaillon. The most striking is Oppede-le-Vieux and here there is a perfect opportunity for lunch. There is also the option of a longer route today which will take you to Gordes, an old town built 'on top of a rock'. A town of tall stone houses, you can wander the narrow streets and make your way to the church at the top for fantastic views. If you are feeling really energetic you could use the maps to cycle out to L'isle-sur-la-Sorgue, built on the islands of five branches of the Sorgue River. Known as the 'Venice of Provence' the river flows through, past, in and around the town. We recommend taking a stroll along the canals between the narrow ancient streets and also visiting the Notre Dame des Anges, with an exceptional Baroque interior.