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Provence Challenge Bike Tour

Mont Ventoux to the Mediterranean

6 days / 5 nights Level: 4Price From: $5,195Collection: Challenge

Tour Highlights

  • Climb Mont Ventoux from Bédoin, an epic ride repeatedly featured in the TDF
  • Relax at sublime hotels including Crillon le Brave and Le Couvent des Minimes, enjoying post-ride massages at each property’s spa
  • Cycle idyllic natural landscapes of limestone formations, medieval villages, and rushing rivers at the Gorges de la Nesque and Gorges du Toulourenc
  • Ride to La Ciotat—a Mediterranean coastal town—through Sainte-Baume massif, where Paul Cezanne derived inspiration for his paintings
  • Indulge in classic Provençal cuisine and fresh Mediterranean fare to fuel each day’s challenging feats

Eat

Picholine olives, tapenade, ratatouille, Banon (locally-made fromage de chevre), soupe au pistou (vegetable soup), and slow-cooked lamb

Drink

Outstanding local wines like Gigondas, Côtes de Provence, and rare whites from Cassis; pastis (a traditional anise-flavored apéritif)

Print Itinerary
  • Day 1

    Welcome to Provence

    Meet your guides at the train station in Avignon and transfer to the foot of Mont Ventoux where a glass of rosé and light lunch awaits at our hilltop hotel. After a safety briefing and fitting on our top-of-the-line Cannondale road bikes, warm up on a ride to Malaucène—one of three towns in the Vaucluse where cyclists begin their Ventoux ascent (a feat for later in the week). Climb steadily surrounded by AOC Ventoux vineyards until we reach the perched village of Suzette. A short but thrilling descent sends us pedaling towards a 12th-century castle in Le Barroux before one last climb back to Crillon le Brave. We’ve certainly earned tonight’s Provençal spread—and it somehow tastes even better on the hotel’s panoramic terrace.

    Meals: Lunch / Dinner
    Destinations: Malaucène, Suzette, Lafare, Le Barroux, Caromb, Crillon-le-Brave
    Accomplished: 24 miles / 39 km, elevation gain: 2,647 feet / 807 meters
    Accommodations: Crillon le Brave

  • Day 2

    Gorgeous Provençal Gorges

    Today’s epic loop through the mountains of Provence consists of never-ending rolling roads and gentle cols. Ride through tunnels hewn from rock and hug the cliffside as we cycle the Gorges de la Nesque all the way to Sault, the lavender capital of the world. Each waypoint is more picturesque than the last: as its name implies, the village of Montbrun-les-Bains is famous for its thermal baths, followed by the medieval hamlet of Brantes which seems to crawl up the hillside. After lunch, we’ll tackle today’s second canyon—the Gorges du Toulourenc—and finish with a final push up the Col de Madeleine. Back at the hotel, get some serious relief thanks to a massage at Crillon le Brave’s spa. Tonight we dine at Restaurant du Vieux Four, where locally sourced ingredients are transformed into a satisfying meal.

    Meals: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner
    Destinations: Bédoin, Monieux, Sault, Montbrun-les-Bains, Brantes, Saint-Léger-du-Ventoux, Malaucène, Crillon-le-Brave
    Accomplished: 68 miles / 110 km, elevation gain: 5,399 feet / 1,646 meters
    Accommodations: Crillon le Brave

  • Day 3

    Mont Ventoux

    Fuel up at breakfast—you’ll need it for today’s iconic ride up Mont Ventoux. We’ll attack the 20-kilometer climb at an average grade of 7.5% from the town of Bedoin, the same Category 1 route the TDF has followed some 15 times. After reaching the top of the world at 1,912 meters, savor the long descent into Sault and celebrate an accomplishment that appears on every cyclists’ bucket list. We’ll head east and let our legs recover along the Albion Plateau, where roadside patches of purple lavender and golden wheat make the landscape both beautiful and intoxicating. In the village of Banon, have a taste of the eponymous goat cheese produced here and delicately wrapped in dried chestnut leaves. The last 30 kilometers of the day are a delightful descent to our hotel—a convent that’s been transformed into a high-design, boutique property. Tonight we toast to our massive achievement with a gourmet dinner at the hotel.

    Meals: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner
    Destinations: Bédoin, Mont Ventoux, Sault, Banon, Mane
    Accomplished: 64 miles / 103 km, elevation gain: 7,675 feet / 2,340 meters
    Accommodations: Le Couvent des Minimes

  • Day 4

    The Edge of the Alps

    It’s another big day as we prepare to enter the Haute Provence region known as the Prealps. Once we reach the city of Forcalquier, it’s time to get in the granny gear and make our way up the Montagne de Lure on a tiny road lined with cedar trees. At the top we’re treated to views of the entire valley and the Alps on the horizon. Alas, what goes up must come down—layer up for a long descent that spits us out on gentle roads traversing the Provençal highlands. Return to our hotel for another well-deserved massage, or maybe ease the pain with a glass of pastis and a game of pétanque. Head back to Forcalquier this evening for dinner on your own: whether you’re craving nourishing vegetarian food or some classic French foie gras, you’re sure to find plenty of options.

    Meals: Breakfast / Lunch
    Destinations: Forcalquier, Noyers-sur-Jabron, Montfroc, Revest-du-Bion, Banon, Limans, Mane
    Accomplished: 87 miles / 141 km, elevation gain: 8,367 feet / 2,551 meters
    Accommodations: Le Couvent des Minimes

  • Day 5

    From the Mountains to the Sea

    Leave the Alps behind as we make our way towards the Mediterranean Sea: we’ll set out on rolling terrain, flanked by the very forests that inspired Paul Cezanne’s pine tree paintings. Upon reaching the impressive limestone slab at Sainte-Baume Natural Regional Park, we’ll tackle 15 kilometers of twists and turns on a 6% climb to Plan-d’Aups. At the top, we can see all the way to our last stop—the Mediterranean port of Cassis. Ride the rest of the way to the water’s edge, dip in a triumphant toe (or tire!), then celebrate a week of major feats at tonight’s seafood feast. Bon appétit!

    Meals: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner
    Destinations: Manosque, Gréoux-les-Bains, Bras, Tourves, Plan-d’Aups-Sainte-Baume, Cassis
    Accomplished: 94 miles / 151 km, elevation gain: 6,822 feet / 2,080 meters
    Accommodations: Les Roches Blanches

  • Day 6

    Au Revoir!

    Saddle up for one final ride to La Ciotat—the sister town of Cassis. Have a coffee, steal a few more coastal views, and tack on that last little bit of elevation before heading back to the hotel via forested roads. Your guides will see you off at the Marseille airport or town center.

    Meals: Breakfast
    Destinations: La Ciotat
    Accomplished: 17 miles / 27 km, elevation gain: 2,637 feet / 804 meters

DuVine itineraries may be subject to slight route changes, hotel substitutions, and other modifications.



Arrival Details

Airport City: Paris of Marseille, France Pick-Up Location: Avignon Train Station Pick-Up Time: 11:00 am
Departure Details

Airport City: Marseille, France Drop-Off Location: Marseille or Cassis city center Drop-Off Time: 11:30 am
Weather by Month
Average Temperature + Precipitation

Average Temperature + Precipitation

 
JAN
FEB
MAR
APR
MAY
JUN
JUL
AUG
SEP
OCT
NOV
DEC
High (°F)
50°
54°
61°
64°
73°
81°
86°
86°
77°
68°
55°
50°
Low (°F)
36°
37°
43°
46°
54°
59°
64°
64°
57°
52°
43°
37°
Rain (in)
251
125
125
251
251
125
125
125
251
376
376
251

Accommodations

  • Thoughtfully selected accommodations that reveal the true character of the region in ideal riding locations
  • Luggage transfers

Meals

  • Daily breakfasts, all lunches, and 4 cyclist-friendly dinners at our favorite local restaurants and renowned culinary establishments
  • Nutritious energy snacks, hydration, and shakes to support endurance and recovery
  • Local wines and beer with every meal

Activities

  • Wine tastings and activities as outlined in the tour itinerary
  • Entrance fees to historic sites, museums, parks, and all other exclusive events
  • Gratuities for baggage, porters, and hotel service

Gear

  • Top-of-the-line Cannondale carbon fiber road bike
  • Complimentary DuVine gear, including a custom cycling jersey, DuVine t-shirt, water bottle, and drawstring bag
  • GPS with pre-programmed route maps

Support

  • Expert bilingual guide with extensive cycling experience and local knowledge
  • Support vehicle that follows the day’s route, distributes refreshments, and offers lifts
  • Pick-up and drop-off before and after your tour from predetermined meeting points
  • Laundry service provided mid-week
  • Daily bike maintenance to ensure optimal performance

Additional Inclusions

  • 2 massages
NOT INCLUDED:
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Synapse Carbon Disc Ultegra Di2

Manufacturer: Cannondale

Type: Road