Cycling in the Luberon is fantastic, with quiet windy roads for the roadies and fantastic singletrack and fireroads for the off-roaders. In the interests of accurate research, I’ve been trying to do a little of both and can heartily recommend either. In the bottom of the valley, running between Coustellet and Apt is an “Avenue Verte”, a dedicated cyling path built on an old railway. This is perfect for families and gentle rides – it’s always flat and runs through a series of little towns.
If you’re driving you can of course bring your own bike but if you fly or come by train it’s useful to be able to hire a bike. I’ve used “Culture Velo” in Cavaillon and was very pleased with them. They found a small bike for my 3 year old son and a gave me a beautiful Cannondale Synapse carbon road bike. They are also easy to find and park at, set slightly out of town.
34 Avenue des Vergers – Lieu-dit « La Crau »
Tél. 04 90 78 07 06
Ben loved cycling his bike around Cabrieres d’Avignon – there are some wonderful woods uphill from the village with paths leading off all over the place. One day he cycled (and I walked and pushed and carried) from Cabrieres to Gordes, nearly 5 miles in all, all through the woods on old paths, away from traffic. It was a delight and we both had a well deserved ice-cream at the end.
For those with a little cycling culture, Mont Ventoux, barely 20 or 30 kms to the norht will provide an irresistible draw. Made famous through its inclusion in many a tour de France stage, Mont Ventoux rises to nearly 2000 metres from the surrounding plains, and offers around 20kms of continuous uphill, up winding roads threaded through the moonlike landscape of the windblasted upper slopes. You can find out more here:
I’ve yet to make it up the slopes on a road bike – my schedule often doesn’t leave much time for a full day out (that’s my excuse anyway), but I have got up most of it on mountain bike tracks, til I was stopped by snow, in February. I had driven down from the UK, so had my mountain bike with me, and had found an off-road route listed in a website, so thought I would give it a go, and can heartily recommend it. Though the snow level was down to around 1200 metres, the day was spectacular and the views went on for ever.
I had made an appointment for lunch at the Chalet Liotard, around 1500 metres up the mountain on the Malaucene route, so I had to make sure I could get there from my start on the Bedoin side of the mountain. The first part was easy but as I climbed I first came across a number of jeeps, full of hunters intent on flushing out some wild boar. I just hoped they wouldn’t flush one out in my direction; they’re generally friendly enough, and scared of humans, but not when they’re being chased. Then, as I left the hunters behind, I started to see the first signs of snow, until finally I had to give up any attempts at cycling, and just carried my bike on my back while climbing through the forest. I finally hit a cross-country snow route that lead round to Chalet Liotard, so I could get back on the bike and follow it, avoiding the rails. I got some quite surprised looks when I came slipping and sliding round the corners towards the skiers, but reaching the Chalet was a delight and a relief.
If you’re going to Provence and would like some advice on where to cycle, just ask us: firstname.lastname@example.org. There really is something for everybody, whether you’re three or ninety three, a gentle stroller or a Tour de France enthusiast.