Headwater - Self-Guided Cycling in Provence & the Luberon

8 days
Suitable for:
Age 16+
Activity level:
Moderate / Challenging
Activity Rating - Moderate/Challenging
Trip code: 
Way to Travel:
Self-Guided Holidays
Min age:

Cycle through colourful Provencal villages and the chance to climb Mt Ventoux

Provence is renowned for welcoming cyclists to its quiet roads, rolling lavender fields and picturesque hill-top villages. As a self-guided cycling destination it couldn't be more perfect. This route takes us along the Durance River, passing through the picturesque market towns and quaint villages of Forcalquier, Cadenet and Cavaillon under the shadow of the Luberon National Park. Amid the lush colours of the lavender fields we make our way towards the majestic Mont Ventoux, with the option to take on this mighty mountain, rewarding you with spectacular views across the plains of Provence.


  • Cycle through colourful Provencal villages
  • Ride rolling hills and lavender fields
  • Climb Mont Ventoux

Key information

  • 7 nights hotels with en suite facilities
  • 6 days cycling (including 2 optional rides) with luggage transfers, 100% quiet tarmac roads
  • Undulating terrain, optional climb of Mt Ventoux and Montagne de Lure
  • E-bikes available on request
  • Countries visited: France

What's included

  • All breakfasts and 3 dinners
  • All accommodation (see accommodation section)
  • All luggage transfers
  • Route notes and maps
  • Local bike hire

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Single accommodation (compulsory supplement)
  • Visas or vaccinations
  • Flights from London (available on request)
  • Supplement for single traveller (includes single accommodation supplement)
  • Carbon bike hire available on request for a supplement
Call for general departures:
01606 720003
Call for tailor made trips:
020 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.


Days of Cycling

Low altitude; 100% quiet tarmac

Day by day breakdown
Day 241.0km/25.0miles
Day 363.0km/39.0miles
Day 444.0km/27.0miles
Day 557.0km/35.0miles
Day 652.0km/32.0miles
Day 765.0km/40.0miles

Responsible Travel

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 


  • Day 1

    Start Cavaillon

    You should aim to arrive in Cavaillon any time before dinner. Our usual 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.

  • Day 2

    Follow the Durance River to Cadenet

    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 Cadenet, at the foot of the Grand Luberon mountain range.

    N.B. the longer cycle ride today is 43km (27 miles)

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 3

    Ride through rolling hills and lavender fields to Forcalquier

    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.

    N.B. the longer cycle ride today is 69km (43 miles)

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 4

    Free day to explore Forcalquier. Alternatively, enjoy an optional ride to Saint-Etienne-les-Orgues

    A day to 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. For those who wish to challenge themselves, the ascent of Montagne de Lure is an additional approx. 38km round trip, and is a fantastic climb with lots of sharp switchbacks and stunning views. You can also download the 'Lure challenge' app on your phone and go for a gold medal if you want to push yourself!

    N.B. Optional cycle approx. 44km (27 miles) to Saint-Etienne-les-Orgues, additional 38km (24 miles) for Montagne de Lure.

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 5

    Ride a gradual climb passing through Saint-Christol and onto Sault

    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 (N.B. the actual opening times are very limited). 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 (1912m)

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 6

    Free day; Ride a loop through the beautiful Nesque Gorges, or climb the mighty Mont Ventoux at 1912m

    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, there is a restaurant along the way (6km from the summit), the view from the top is well worth the effort. In clear weather the vista stretches from Monte Viso on the Italian frontier to Mont Blanc.

    N.B. the two optional cycle rides today are 52km (32 miles) or 50km (31 miles)

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 7

    Cycle south across the Vaucluse Plateau, then west to Cavaillon

    Today there is a choice of 3 different routes to take you back to Cavaillon. 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. It is possible to add in the beautiful (and steep) village of Gordes, which is well worth it if you still have the energy!

    N.B. The distance can be increased to 75km (47 miles) or 90km (56 miles) today.

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 8

    End Cavaillon

    Meals included: Breakfast
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Essential Info




There are no specific health risks.

Eating and Drinking

Trip includes 7 breakfasts and 3 dinners, which are usually taken in the hotels or restaurants close by.
Breakfast: Continental style buffet breakfast.
Lunch (not included): France is a country renowned for its food and wine and this trip should give you the full flavour of Provence. Self-guided cycling lends itself perfectly to picnics, it is always a good option to pick up some local produce and then pick a spot along your route to stop and eat it.
Dinner: When taken in the hotels this will be the standard menu for those staying on a half board basis. Your two dinners in the hotel at Forcalquier will give you an opportunity to experience a 'Bistrot de Pays', a local restaurant that offers local and seasonal cuisine in many delicious forms! You can expect a wide variety of meat dishes, although vegetarians can also be catered for.


The climate of Provence is typically Mediterranean, warm and dry. However, in the winter and spring the strong, cold Mistral wind can blow in from the north for extended periods. It rains only 30 to 50 days in the plain, but more in the Alps and the annual average temperature in Marseille is 15.1ºC. In July and August the weather in Provence is very hot and humid, and we advise you to set off early in the morning and take a long lunch before finishing the ride at a leisurely pace. At any time of the year is can be very windy on Mont Ventoux.

Is this trip for you?

Cycling Conditions
Classification: Self-Guided
Activity Level: 4 (Moderate/Challenging)
Average daily distance: 50km (32 miles)
No. of days cycling: 6 (including 2 optional rides)
Terrain and route: Provence is a hilly region with a few gradual climbs and some rugged terrain passing through quiet villages and countryside. The routes are all undulating so it is important that you are happy riding on hilly terrain. If you attempt Mt Ventoux and/or Montagne de Lure, please prepare for a challenging ride, however, at any stage you can simply turn around and come back. Please also be aware that this area can be affected by strong winds (known as le Mistral) and these can sometimes last for a couple of days at a time.
Vehicle Support: This is a self-guided trip for those who prefer to cycle independently, but with our assistance to take out the stress of the logistics and planning. We arrange your accommodations, provide you with a map and route notes so that you can cycle at your own pace, while your bags are transported from one hotel to the next.

It is important that you are happy reading maps and following route notes, we make these as accurate as possible and they are regularly checked. Where possible we stick to cycle tracks and quiet roads to make the journeys as pleasant as possible, however, on occasion we have to use busier routes.

As this is a self-guided holiday there is no group and no leader. There may be others on the same departure date as you, but you will not be organised together. The routes notes contain a 24-hour emergency assistance telephone number should you need it and in emergencies, the hotels are normally able to dispatch a taxi or pick you up themselves. They may wish to charge for this service.

Self-guided cycling holidays are a perfect option for families as they offer the freedom for you to take your holiday at your own pace. You can stop as and when you want and need, at the cafes and restaurants that suit your family and the sites that interest you. As a guide we have suggested that 16 years is the minimum age for this trip, but as it is self-guided and you will be leading your own family we will ultimately leave this decision up to you. The daily distances are all published in the trip notes along with a description of each days cycling so you have a good idea of what to expect. However, if you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact one of our experts. The principle idea is that these holidays can be as flexible as you like, with logistical support but no group or leader to dictate the daily activities.

Call for general departures:
01606 720003
Call for tailor made trips:
020 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.



You will spend 7 nights in 2 and 3 star hotels. These include a variety of charming traditional buildings from the region including an authentic provincial farmhouse or 'Mas' of the 18th Century. All rooms are en suite and some hotels have swimming pools. Please note, as the accommodation is usually small, locally owned/run hotels in typical buildings of the region, this means that air conditioning is generally not available (the buildings are constructed with local weather patterns in mind), however a fan is usually either provided as standard or available to request from reception.

All prices are based on 2 persons sharing, so if there is an odd number of people travelling in your party or you are travelling alone, there will be a compulsory supplement for a single room for the tour duration.
For a solo traveller there is an adttional charge to cover transfer costs.

Call for general departures:
01606 720003
Call for tailor made trips:
020 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Expert Blog Entries

  • Reviewed September 2016
    Jonathan Hoar

    Fantastic cycling adventure

    This was an amazing cycling trip through the Luberon National Park and Provence. Every day took us through beautiful countryside and there were plenty of opportunities to stop for coffee and experience Provencal village life. All the hotels were good quality the jewel in the crown being the two nights at Charembeau, an amazing setting and lovely people. We cycled in early September and it was into the mid thirties somedays, we were told this was unseasonable hot and it was a bit too warm one day. We hired the hybrid bikes which were ideal as some road surfaces would not have been ideal for road bikes. The swimming pools at two of the hotels were great to cool down in after a day cycling. We did have a slight problem on arrival with the first night hotel booking and bike hire but this was quickly resolved by Exodus. Overall the organisation was very good and we were able to navigate using the trip notes.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Cycling up Mont Ventoux, the last 6k from Chalet Reynard was tough.

    What did you think of your group leader?


    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If you are not good in heat consider spring or autumn. If going in the summer start cycling early, some shops shut at lunch but we had no problems getting food and drink. Take picnics there are many places to enjoy brilliant views.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This is an amazing cycling experience on mostly quiet roads. The food was amazing and the tour gives you the chance to see a part of France you otherwise may not visit.
  • Reviewed August 2016
    Andrew Goodwin

    A week in Provence

    This is a great trip round the varied landscapes of Provence. The route has been well thought out, taking you through some stunning landscapes and beautiful villages. The directions provided were really detailed and mostly easy to follow. The accommodation was all ok but the hotel Charembeau was by far the best, and one of the nicest places you could ever wish to stay.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Getting to the top of Mont Ventoux!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Not applicable as self guide

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Great trip , great route- very hot in July when we went so lots of drinks required but still manageable. If you can speak a bit of French that helps. The route is quite undulating - do try and get to the top of both Montagne de Lure and Mont Ventoux if you can - it's worth it when you get there. The Mont Ventoux Rose is very drinkable!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Would happily do it again!
  • Reviewed May 2016
    Andy Eckersley


    Just come back from this cycling holiday and I must say it was fabulous. The hybrid bike, although a little dated, was very well maintained and the right bike for the trip. The route notes were very detailed and easy to follow. The accommodation was lovely, one in particular was a really great place to relax after a long day in the saddle. The routes were great and scenery spectacular. On the two "rest days" I managed to climb a couple of mountains. Both were worth the effort with amazing views from the summit.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    For me the highlight was cycling to the summit of Mt Ventoux.

    What did you think of your group leader?


    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Would definitely recommend this holiday to others who enjoy cycling. It was brilliant.
  • Reviewed April 2016
    Phil Roberts

    A brilliant trip!

    We had a great trip overall, the hotel staff were always really friendly & helpful, and of course, food and wine were excellent. We felt that we were really in the thick of it, visiting old villages and staying in authentic French hotels. We travelled early April and the first few days were overcast but it cleared up for the last few days. Temperatures were in the range 5-18°C (warm clothes needed).

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The weather forecast for the week wasn't great (we travelled early April), but it cleared up for the day of the ascent of Ventoux and we made it to the top, after a couple of breaks and a sugary chocolat chaud at Chalet Reynard!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    N/A as we were self guided

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    As others have said, shops do close at rather inconvenient times for the touring cyclist, so make sure you have your picnic ready before you set off in the mornings. If it's not quite coffee-time and you pass a cafe that's open, but you think "maybe we should press on till the next one" - don't! There might not be one, or it might be closed! Pay close attention to the trip notes, although there were a couple of errors - easily rectified though so long as you keep you own 'internal compass' switched on! While the distances look quite modest, we generally averaged around 15km/hr (as experienced, but out of training cyclists) due to terrain, frequent stops at pretty villages, sluggish hire bikes, panniers packed with food & warm clothing and the WIND!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Language-wise, people seemed genuinely happy that we were English (often didn't know if we were Scandanavian, German, American, Australian etc). I do have A-level French (20 years ago) which was useful as an opener, but generally people did seem to want to practise their own English on us. Having said that, on the night that we got a lift back to Charembeau with the chef of the Bistrot de Pays, we had a full-on discussion in French on the merits of Provencal Andouillette compared to Ardechois Andouillette (tripe sausage!). So you could equally do the whole trip in French if you wanted
  • Reviewed October 2014
    Anil Batra

    Cycle Provence & The Luberon

    A stunning trip. You have to appreciate that its not like cycling at home and the pace is slower simply because it is hilly but the payback is stunning scenery and great challenges. We could have benefited from maps on a Garmin or equivalent - sometimes we got lost Food and hotels were good - only the first nights meal was disappointing

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    We climbed Montagne de Lure - stunning to up at 1850m - we wanted to Ventoux but the weather forecast for that day was bad. Also the last days cycling was great the views and the villages

    What did you think of your group leader?

    N/A self guided

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Do it - it was great - my very best cycling experience
  • Reviewed September 2013


    We booked this after another trip fell through but it was great. Stunning scenery. Could get there by Eurostar/TGV. Accommodation far better than we expected. We hope to revisit one of the places.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Just completing the big climbs and seeeing yet another great view.

    What did you think of your group leader?


    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Villages often close up at lunchtime so consider buying things for a picnic lunch early in the day and eat with a great view (if possible with a downhill after eating). Be prepared for strong winds. They are hard work. Tour best if you are reasonably fit for hill climbs.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Bikes could have been better. We should have tried them out before leaving, but Exodus sorted them when we phoned en route.
  • Reviewed August 2012


    Fantastic week cycling through spectacular scenery and pretty villages.  Hotels basic but adequate, everyone we met was very friendly and food and wine were superb! 

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Highlight of the week had to be Mont Ventoux.  Although my husband is a seasoned cyclist, it was the first time I had attempted something of this difficulty and felt a real sense of achievement getting to the top.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    We were on a self-guided tour so this is not relevant.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    You may want to think about taking your own bikes with you, as we were not overly impressed with the quality of our road bikes, especially if you want to climb Mont Ventoux.
  • Reviewed June 2012


    very poor notes, sent to the wrong villagerooms not booked as paid for  bikes  did not fit, nor were fully equipedvery disappointing service 

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    mount ventoux

    What did you think of your group leader?

    not applicable

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    please be very strict on your accomodationask for instructions priorthere was no tour package depsite paying over 5000 aud  just one map and inadequate instructionsvery poor standard. 

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    the route was good but distances inaccurate and no proper informationvery rudimentary tourwe took two children age 12 and 16, they rode it all easily but the organisation, accommodation and instructions were very poor. we have tried several other rides and this was the worst.one day our ride instructions had us finish 15 km from where we were supposed to  stay!! come on?? 
  • Reviewed July 2011


    A fantastic opportunity to see the best bits of France at your own pace. The views were fantastic and the hotels quirky making this a unique experience to get fit!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Making it to the top of Mount Ventoux! The satisfaction of passing professional cyclists going up the mountain was amazing! The long slog is definitely worth it and there is a cold beer and good food waiting at the top

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Buy good cycling shorts!Remember that a lot of shops and restaurants in France close from 12pm to 4pm roughly. Yes some of the restaurants close at lunchtime!! Make sure you have plenty of provisions to keep you going
  • Reviewed June 2011


    France the place to cycle, but so pleased my friend spoke french, the directions were awful.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Getting to the destination at the end of each days cycling. As we had always cycled much further due to poor directions and getting lost. ( Two Australians on same route also got lost everyday)

    What did you think of your group leader?

    No group leader on our trip

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Ask for (or research your own) directions. Need blown up maps of each days route.Ask cost of taxi airpost to destination. Ours 100 eur. Trains don't always run that often.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Unlucky enough that a bird flew into our engine on take off, that delay caused us to miss train connection. Disapointed Exodus happy to leave us 5 hours waiting for train, thought guy out there might have picked us up. Also Phone number given in case of emergency was supposed to be an English speaking gent - although he was lovely, he could not speak english. YOU NEED TO SPEAK A GOOD DEAL OF FRENCH TO GO ON THIS HOLIDAY.

Dates & Prices

An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.


What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.


2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.


3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.


 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 


Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]

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