Biking in Provence

There is no doubt that the best way to see Provence is to immerse yourself in the sights, smells and sounds of the countryside on a bike.

 

Cycling is big in the Luberon, whether on the road or off-road. The region is gently hilly and many of the villages are on top of a short, sharp hill, but as a consolation they are not far apart.

To have a fantastic day out, just plan a route that avoids the main roads and soon you will find yourself cycling past vineyards, orchards, sunflowers and heading to your ports of call: the perched medieval villages, castles, wineries, ochre valleys, lavender trails, or even restaurants.

There are some signposted cycling routes in the Luberon, detailed below, but you are more likely to take a map, circle the things you want to see, and build your own route that way. The one busy road to avoid in the Luberon is the D900 between Avignon and Apt, which is the main east-west artery.

Below are some cycling circuits in the Luberon region of Provence. And here is a useful resource for cyclists who are out all day, a listing of public water fountains and toilets in the villages of the Luberon:
www.veloloisirluberon.com/WC.pdf







Complete circuit of the Luberon

There is a complete circuit of the Luberon that is 236km long and is designed to take in some of the best sights on the way, which you can download in PDF format here:
www.veloloisirluberon.com

 

When on this round-Luberon circuit you will see these signs indicating the route:
Clockwise direction (Apt - Forcalquier - Manosque - Lourmarin - Cavaillon)

Anti-clockwisedirection (Lourmarin - Manosque - Forcalquier - Apt - Cavaillon)

 

Ochre route

This is a 51km circuit that takes you to the best places to see the ochre quarries and landscapes of the Luberon: Rustrel, Villars, Saint Saturnin les Apt, Roussillon and Gargas.

This route is signposted in both directions at every junction with orange and green signs like this :

Clockwise (Roussillon – Villars – Rustrel)

Anti-clockwise (Rustrel – Villars – Roussillon)

 

Pays d’Aigues circuit

This is a 91km (57 miles) circuit in the south Luberon and takes in the picturesque villages of Cadenet, Cucuron, Ansouis, St Martin de la Brasque, Grambois, Mirabeau, La Tour d’Aigues, La Bastidonne, Pertuis (a town rather than a village), and Villelaure.

 

La Véloroute du Calavon

This is a new paved cycle path for bikes only that roughly follows the path of the Calavon river where the old railway line ran through the Luberon. At time of writing it runs from about the level of Les Beaumettes just off the D900, to St Martin de Castillon the other side of Apt. Eventually it will run all the way from Cavaillon to the Alpes de Haute Provence. As there are no cars, only bikes, it is also very suitable for families with children. The surface of the route is superb.

 

Create your own circuit



You can just make your own route, here are some suggestions:

Perched villages
Between Cavaillon and Apt - photogenic perched villages worth cycling to that also have a cafe or restaurant for a stop-off: Gordes, Roussillon, Bonnieux, Lacoste, Lagnes, Menerbes, Oppede le vieux, Lacoste, Saignon, Goult, Joucas, Murs

Castles route
A selection of intriguing chateaux at Ansouis, Tour d’Aigues, Lourmarin, l'Abbaye Saint Eusèbe in Saignon

Lavender trail
This takes you by fields of lavender to beautiful villages (the lavender flowers between mid-June and early August when it is harvested): St Saturnin les Apt – Sault – Lagarde d’Apt – Rustrel – Oppedette – Saignon

Same idea, but over towards the Lure mountain in the east: Simiane la Rotonde - Oppedette – Vacheres – St Michel l’Observatoire – Forcalquier - Banon

 

 

The Sorgue route

Here is a site with some shorter rides centring around the wonderful Sorgue river, which emerges from the ground fully formed at Fontaine de Vaucluse, and connect to places like Isle sur la Sorgue, famed for its antiques market :
> http://www.velo-provence.com/in-english/presentation.php

 

Various Luberon routes

On this site people have posted their own cycling route maps around the Luberon and Avignon :
> http://www.bikely.com/listpaths/country/82/region/1812/city/3854

 

Mont Ventoux

This is not for the faint-hearted, the Mont Ventoux is a mythical climb in the Tour de France that is one of the toughest of all the mountain stages.

There is about 1600 metres of ascent over 22km. Some of the gradient is 9-10% and it is said to be hard but steady as a climb (which means it is uphill almost every inch of the way).

The record ascent by bike is about one hour, if you are a decent cyclist 2 hours is a good time. There are three ways up, from Bedoin, Malaucène and Sault.

The Bedoin departure point is the most popular and the toughest. The last 16km have an average gradient of 8.9%. Malaucene is about the same. The easiest route is from Sault, which starts 400m higher than the other two and has an average gradient of 4.4%. From Chalet Reynard it is the same route as Bedoin.

Bedoin is also popular because you can rent a little microchip for 5 euros that gives you an official time and diploma for your climb. You rent the microchip from the cycle shop 'La Route du Ventoux', and the start line is right outside. At the top there is a radar that gives you your time and when you take the microchip back to the shop they can print out your diploma with your time.

The youngest person to cycle up the Mont Ventoux was an 8-year-old boy. The record for number of ascents in 24 hours is by a Bedoin local, he did it 11 times.

Taxis for biking in Provence

If you need transport for bags, bikes or people, here are some taxi services that can do this :


TAXI MARCEL LOPEZ
Françoise et Marcel Lopez
La Parc - Route de Saint Martin
84240 LA TOUR D'AIGUES
04 90 07 57 48 - 06 07 35 89 44
(Between Lourmarin and Manosque)


TAXIS FORCALQUIERENS
Annie Combe
1 avenue de Verdun
04300 FORCALQUIER
Tel : 04 92 75 34 34 - 06 50 39 84 46
(Between Manosque and Forcalquier)


TAXI BRUNO
Marie-Paule et Eric Bruno
La Folastière
04300 ST MAIME
Tel : 04 92 79 56 81 - 06 07 47 26 97
www.taxibruno.com
(Between Manosque and Forcalquier)


LUBERON TAXIS
Jean-Marie Tiboni
144 chemin de la Ferraille
84660 MAUBEC
Tel : 04 90 76 70 08 - 06 08 49 40 57
www.luberontaxi.com
(Between Apt and Cavaillon)

 

There are fixed costs:

 Mon-FriSunday
Baggage only for 1-8 people1.60 euros/km2.40 euros/km
1-4 people (+ luggage + bikes) 1.78 euros/km2.67 euros/km
5-8 people (+ luggage) 1.93 euros/km2.56 euros/km
5-8 people (+ luggage + bikes)2.95 euros/km3.95 euros/km
Bikes only 1.62 euros/km2.16 euros/km

Where to rent a bike in the Luberon

MOUNTAIN BIKE LUBERON

MOUNTAIN BIKE LUBERON
10 avenue de la gare
BONNIEUX 84480
France
04 90 75 89 96

CYCLIX

CYCLIX
166 cours Gambetta
CAVAILLON 84300
France
04 90 78 07 06

VELO LUBERON

VELO LUBERON
ZAC St Martin - Impasse François Gernelle
PERTUIS 84120
France
04 90 09 17 33

CYCLES GUY AGNEL

CYCLES GUY AGNEL
86, quai du Général-Leclerc
APT 84400
France
04 90 74 17 16

Mountain biking and BMX in Provence

The Luberon is also a great place for mountain biking, with a multitude of trails in the hills and mountains. For the more youthful in spirit there is a Bike Park at Villars which is 15 hectares dedicated to mountain biking/BMX. This has a dual race track, ramps, bumps, initiation course, and off-road track.
Villars Bike Park

XTrem Bike Shop

To rent or repair your mountain bike there is a specialist store in Apt:

http://www.xtrembike-luberon.com

XTrem Bike Shop
422 avenue Victor Hugo
APT 84400
France