Mont Ventoux

Races, even lives have been lost on Mont Ventoux, the most fabled of all the climbs in the Tour de France.


While there are strictly speaking three routes up Ventoux – four if you count the forest road through Massif des Cèdres – the one widely accepted as the defining route is the 21.5km way up from Bédoin. The other routes from Malaucène and Sault offer brave souls the chance to join the famous Club Cingles – reserved for those riders who ascend to the famous peak by all three routes in a single day.

The Bédoin route, the one most used in the Tour, offers 1,620m of elevation at up to 12.5% gradient. The final 6.5km is gentler, crossing the iconic ‘moonscape’ of the limestone peak of Ventoux. It's here that the famous winds can whip up – be prepared for cooler temperatures and changeable weather. The scenery all around is simply breathtaking, with little to obstruct the view south to the Mediterranean and north to the snow-capped Alps. You can expect the ride from Bédoin to take the better part of two hours, though there's nothing stopping you from trying to better Iban Mayo's remarkable record time of just shy of 56 minutes from the 2004 Dauphiné Libéré.

Ventoux has played host to many memorable stages of the Tour, most recently in 2016 when Chris Froome jogged up the road sans vélo following a collision with a motorcycle. With ten Tour stage finishes and a further six crossings there's a fantastic amount of history tied up on this mountain – the names of riders past painted on the road are a constant reminder.

There's plenty of cycle-friendly accommodation in both Bédoin and Malaucène. Marseille airport is a few hours drive south, so it's simple to tick off over a long weekend. It's not too far to ride from Marseille either, being around 120km along rolling quiet roads. If you have the time this is a great option.