There is no better way to see Provence than on a bike. You won’t travel as far as in a car, but you will really experience and interact with everything Provence has to offer: the scent of a lavender field, the sound of the songbirds, the babble of the village fountain.

Cycling in Provence is popular, whether local cycling clubs taking to the roads at the weekend, or visitors who want to see Provence the slow way. So there are plenty of places to rent bikes or fix them, and marked routes as well as dedicated cycle paths. All levels are catered for, from the gentle Veloroute cycle road along the flat to the brutal Mont Ventoux non-stop climb.

Cycling in the Luberon


The Luberon region is particularly well suited to bike touring. The beautiful hill-top villages are close to one another, providing convenient ports of call, and between the villages is the famed landscape of vineyards, orchards, and lavender in season. It is easy to find quiet roads wherever you are heading. Climbs up into the villages can be sharp but are usually short.

There is a complete circuit of the north and south Luberon that is 236km long (147 miles), circunmnavigating the Luberon mountain in the middle. This is designed to take in some of the best landscapes and villages on the way, and you download the route in PDF here: leluberonavelo.com

When on this round-Luberon circuit you will see these signs indicating the route:

  • Clockwise direction (Apt – Forcalquier – Manosque – Lourmarin – Cavaillon)
  • Anti-clockwise direction (Lourmarin – Manosque – Forcalquier – Apt – Cavaillon)

These are called ‘Velo Loisir’ itineraries and are signposted. They take in secondary roads and paths, and are ideal for all-terrain or electric bikes.

Other routes


Also on the above official site of the Luberon natural park, you can download maps of the following rides:

  • Pays d’Aigues route, which is to the south of the mountain and takes in the vineyards and chateaux, as well as the villages of La Tour d’Aigues, Pertuis, Cadenet, Lourmarin, Cucuron and Ansouis. This is a variable length depending on your route, between 40 and 90km (25-57 miles).
  • Les Ocres en velo, this is a circuit around the spectacular ochre hills of Roussillon, Gargas and Rustrel. 15 to 51km (9-32 miles).
  • Forcalquier and Monts de Lure, over to the east of the Luberon region, this sets off from the market town of Forcalquier and does a circuit in the pre-Alp countryside to the north, past tiny villages and the producers of lavender, honey, truffles and olives. Route length varies from 44 to 78km (25-49 miles)
  • Valensole – Lac de St Croix, a ride taking advantage of the proximity of two of the most stunning of Provence’s natural attributes. The plateau de Valensole is the centre of lavender production, where purple fields seem to stretch to the horizon (from late June to early August). And the Lac de St Croix is a lake of stunning blue at the end of the wonderful Gorges du Verdon.

A gentle and very safe ride…


The Veloroute du Calavon is an asphalt cycle path for bikes and joggers only, which has been laid over the old railway track from Coustellet to Apt. This means it is quite flat and straight, an easy ride down the centre of the Luberon, with villages and other attractions close by.

It is growing and at the moment goes from Robion to St Martin de Castillon to the east of Apt, a distance of 37km (22 miles).  When all work is finished the Velorroute du Calavon will extend from Cavaillon eastward all the way across the Vaucluse department.

You will see vineyards and old railway stations, cross rivers and pass the famous Roman bridge of Pont Julien near Bonnieux. 

The Veloroute du Calavon is popular with families as there are no cars and no climbs.

Further information can be found here.

The Giant of Provence


Mont Ventoux, or the Giant of Provence, is a mythical mountain climb that features regularly on the Tour de France and is known as one of the toughest of all climbs. This is because it is relentless, uphill all the way without any respite, averaging 7-8% incline over 21 km/13 miles from Bedoin.

Mont Ventoux can be seen from far off in all directions with its distinctive white top (limestone in summer, snow in winter) – above the treeline it is a lunar landscape exposed to sun and wind. In brief it’s torture and those who make it up feel on top of the world in every sense – the summit is 1910 metres above sea level and the views are magnificent.

Bedoin is the traditional Tour de France way up and the hardest, while the ascent from Sault to the east is less steep but longer – this is the ‘easy’ way up.

If you just want to do the Ventoux, you can hire bikes at the start of the ascent in Bedoin, at La Route du Ventoux. Book through their website: francebikerentals.com

Practical information


A listing of public water fountains and toilets in the villages of the Luberon can be found here.

Bike rentals and repairs


Apt

LUBERON CYCLES
Loueurs de vélo
86 quai Général Leclerc
84400 Apt
Tél : + 33 (0) 4 86 69 19 00

Bonnieux

SUN E BIKE
Rental 
1 Avenue Clovis Hugues
84480 Bonnieux
Tél : + 33 (0) 4 90 74 09 96

Cavaillon

CULTURE VELO
Loueurs de vélo – Réparateurs
34 avenue des vergers
84300 Cavaillon
Tél : + 33 (0) 4 90 78 07 06

Coustellet

EN ROUE LIBRE
Rental
Avenue du Tourail
84280 Oppèdes
Tel : 04 90 71 94 83

XTREM BIKE SHOP
Rental and Repairs
422, av Victor Hugo
84400 APT
Tél. : 04 90 74 61 66

RENT BIKE LUBERON
Loueurs de vélo – Réparateurs
1 Rue Marceau
84480 Bonnieux
Tél : + 33 (0) 7 78 68 34 94

 

CYCLIX
Rental & Repairs
166 cours Gambetta
84300 Cavaillon
Tél : + 33 (0) 4 90 71 72 48
Mobile : + 33 (0) 6 07 42 21 91

DAYTOUR
Rental 
213 route d’Apt
Coustellet
84220 Cabrières d’Avignon
Mobile : +33 (0) 6 38 56 60 50

Forcalquier

CYCLES BACHELAS
Rental and Repair
5 boulevard de la République
04300 Forcalquier
Tél : + 33 (0) 4 92 75 12 47

Gargas

Coquillade Village (BMC)
Rental and Repair 
Le Perrotet
84400 Gargas
Tél : + 33 (0) 4 90 74 71 71

Manosque

BACHELAS BIKE
Rental and Repair
24 Boulevard de la Plaine
04100 Manosque
Tél : + 33 (0) 4 92 72 15 84

Pertuis

VELO LUBERON
Rental and Repair
ZAC St Martin – Impasse François Gernelle
84120 Pertuis
Tél : + 33 (0) 4 90 09 17 33

Roussillon

LUBERON BIKING
Rental and Repair
Ancienne Usine Mathieu
84220 Roussillon
Tél : + 33 (0) 4 90 90 14 62

Velleron

LUBERON BIKING
Rental and Repair
90 chemin du Stade
84740 Velleron
Tél : + 33 (0) 4 90 90 14 62