Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Mont Ventoux

Yesterday marked another epic climb as we ascended the legendary Mont Ventoux from the village of Bédoin - the traditional starting point for the Tour de France route.

Mont Ventoux as seen from near Bedoin
Ventoux means "windy" in French, and this mountain is known to have winds in excess of 50 miles per hour 240 days a year.  The weather can change quickly and dramatically.  We were therefore very fortunate yesterday to enjoy absolutely beautiful weather.

We started our day by driving from Beaumettes, where we are staying, to Bédoin - about a 45-minute drive through gorges and then open countryside.  We had planned to find some breakfast along the way, but we ended up not seeing anything until we reached Bédoin.  We parked at the edge of the village, changed, lubed our chains and checked our tires, then headed into the village to look for something to eat.

Getting ready for the day
Bedoin from where we parked our car
As it happened, Monday was market day in Bédoin, and the streets were packed with people.  It was awkward as we tried to maneuver through the crowd, checking menus at various cafes.  (In Europe, menus are typically posted outside the restaurant so that people can look at them before deciding whether to go in.)  Mark desperately needed some coffee, and we were both hungry, and we knew we would need fuel in order to make the climb that lay ahead of us.

Finally, we found a place that served just what we needed:  coffee, orange juice, two eggs sunny-side up, some ham and cheese and a half-baguette.  Thus fortified, we found the road to Mt. Ventoux and off we went.  The following graph shows the grade of each kilometer of the climb:

As the graph shows, the nine kilometers from 7 to 16 all had grades of 8-10+%, and it was a tough slog.  This section of the ride was through forest, so that made it better.  Then things evened out a bit (comparatively speaking) before we ascended the last few kilometers, which are above the tree line.  Mark took the lead picture, above, as we were making this part of the ascent.

We spent a few minutes at the summit, then headed down the other side of the "Giant of Provence," our destination being the village of Malaucène, pictured here (we stopped at a bike shop just out of the picture to the right):

The ride down through pine forests was exhilarating, and the views (and the scent of the pines) were spectacular.  After stopping in Malaucène, we headed south to Bédoin through, again, beautiful countryside.

Our route up and down was the D974, thence the D19 to Bedoin
The "A" shows where we are staying, in Les Beaumettes, in relation to the larger area
Once back at our B&B, it was time for a shower and some time spent sitting outside, writing in our journals.

Later in the evening, we drove into Gordes for dinner.  Today, we are having breakfast here at the B&B, then will head out on our bicycles to do a 50-mile loop of villages here in the Luberon.  I'm excited!  Tomorrow, we pack up and head to Toulon, where we will board a ferry for Corsica.

1 comment:

  1. Quand tu lis ce message, vous serez en Corse! Quelles belles images de Bédoin, Ventoux et des environs! Avec la famille, nous avons fait l'inverse: petit-déjeuner à notre maison de vacances à Sablet, café à Malucène, le goûter au Mont Ventoux, le déjeuner à Bédoin et ensuite des ballades dans l'arrière pays des Dentelles. Vous faites un parcours impressionant à vélo et le temps est splendide! Vous êtes bien gâtés!
    Je vous embrasse! profitez bien de la belle Corse!