Start Cavaillon You should aim to arrive any time before dinner. 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 between May to September. After moving from its original position on 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. The afternoon's ride passes 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. Continue to the Provencal village of Cucuron, at the foot of the Grand Luberon.
A series of short descents and climbs will take you as far as the peaceful community of La Bastide-des-Jourdans. The remains of the 13th Century Chateau dominate the skyline and this is a perfect place to buy supplies for the afternoon's ride. A short steep climb of 200m provides breathtaking views as far as the Alps (on a clear day) as you ride over the Luberon mountain range towards the market town of Forcalquier.
Explore the narrow streets and shady squares of Forcalquier. Once the capital of Haute Provence during the Middle Ages, it is now a thriving market town with a wealth of architecture from the elegant 13th and 15th Century houses to the Chapelle Notre Dame de Provence. Alternatively ride a loop to the foot of the Lure Mountain and the village of Saint-Etienne-les-Orgues amid clusters of woodland and cultivated fields.
Ride through rugged terrain and isolated hamlets towards the Observatoire de Haute Provence: its white globe will be visible in the distance as you climb towards the village of St-Michel-l'Observatoire. It is a 5km round trip to visit the observatory, which is primarily an astronomical research facility. A gradual climb offers stunning views across the plains of Provence, and the hilltop village of Simiane-la-Rotonde is a welcome break from the morning's efforts. Continue to the lively town of Sault, which acts as a basecamp for the gruelling ride to the summit of Mont Ventoux.
For a relaxing day, ride a circular loop through the Nesque Gorges to some of the most beautiful places in Provence or enjoy a gentle circular route exploring the villages north of Sault. For the ultimate challenge you 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. Whilst 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 the vista stretches from Mount Viso on the Italian frontier to Mont Blanc.
At the beginning of the day there is a short climb to the Col de la Liguiere, then cycle south across the Vaucluse Plateau and west to Cavaillon through scores of delightful villages. The highlight of today is the ochre-red village of Roussillon with its colourful old buildings and mediaeval streets.