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Ideas for French Tour to Ventoux ?

DeVlaeminckDeVlaeminck Posts: 6,036
edited July 2015 in Tour & expedition
OK inspired by a few recent trips to the Alps I fancy going further afield and I'm trying to get a group together for a weeks riding point to point. Idea is we end up at Ventoux (because I know it'll help persuade people to come along) and spend the last day doing the 3 ascents (depending on the bike may do the Forest road too but unlikely). So looking at maybe 5-6 "stages" of maybe 80 miles a day - hoping to get a van and all do one days driving to set the tents up.

So basically I'm looking at a 400-500 mile (could be a touch more depending on terrain - if we end up carrying our kit it'll probably be less) route leading to Ventoux area.

My knowledge of cycling in France is pretty limited - Ventoux/Avignon area, Bourg D'Oisans and then bits of Brittany - can anyone suggest some areas that would be good to visit ? I quite like the idea of the quiter bits of the Southern Alps, I wouldn't mind ticking off a few classic cycling climbs too but I don't want to get sucked into missing the best bits of France just to visit places that are well known because they suit the logistics of the Tour de France.
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  • briantrumpetbriantrumpet Posts: 4,980
    You might guess what I would say (see signature) ... but don't miss out Die! There's cracking riding in all directions, but if you do pass through, heading south, there are three or four lovely cols from which to choose before heading down towards Avignon. Assuming you don't want to trundle along the flat Rhône, there are so many choices south of Die with pleasant, slightly lumpy quiet roads all the way, and stunning scenery. The only col to beware of, if you aren't travelling very light, is the Col de la Chaudière, which is a sharpish 50-minuter for a decent climber.
  • mercia_manmercia_man Posts: 1,368
    Your idea of the quieter parts of the southern Alps is a good one. It's a fantastic area for cycling. Much less traffic than the popular mid Alps area and you are more likely to get good Mediterranean-style weather.

    The three big south-north climbs, Allos, Cayolle and Bonette, are all major challenges and well worth the effort. The east-west linking passes between them, Couillole, Valberg and Champs, are superb rides. And then you've got the spectacular Cians and Daluis gorges running from them north-south. In the far east of this region is the col de Turini and the L'Authion loop with sensational views to Italy from old military camps. You could easily put together a route linking most of these suggested climbs.

    Just south of the Allos/Cayolle/Bonette region is a beautiful and really quiet area of tiny lanes, gorges and tough climbs around St Auban, Sigale, Roquesteron and Coursegoules. Only a few kilometres from the Riviera coast but you could be in another world.
  • durhamwaspdurhamwasp Posts: 1,234
    Fly to Geneva, then make some 120km routes. Give Annecy and Grand Bornand a visit, Alpe d'Huez, Briancon too.
    http://www.snookcycling.wordpress.com - Reports on Cingles du Mont Ventoux, Alpe D'Huez, Galibier, Izoard, Tourmalet, Paris-Roubaix Sportive & Tour of Flanders Sportive, Amstel Gold Xperience, Vosges, C2C, WOTR routes....
  • DeVlaeminckDeVlaeminck Posts: 6,036
    Thanks for the replies. Done Alpe D'Huez area to death so really looking for different areas and what I've found is some of the lesser known areas make for better cycling - a lot depends on me talking others into it though hence including Ventoux as that's always a draw for people that haven't done it - if we can't get enough for a van then it may come down to flying down and doing a more traditional tour or leaving the car somewhere and doing a circular tour.
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  • mercia_manmercia_man Posts: 1,368
    A tour of the southern Alps fits in well with your proposed finish at Ventoux and logistics would be easier than going to the northern or mid Alps. Although the mid Alps have the famous TDF climbs which are fantastic to ride, the disadvantage is busy and industrial valley roads and ugly ski stations. The southern Alps have a much quieter almost Spanish character. The passes are just as high but it's noticeably hotter and more arid with much less industrial and skiing development.

    Two other good cycling areas which would also link well with a finish at Ventoux are the Drome (as mentioned by Brian Trumpet) and the Ardeche. The north and west areas of the Ardeche are beautiful, rugged and really remote.

    If you are looking for a good base near Ventoux, I found an excellent campsite, also offering cabins and chalets at reasonable rates, when I was there in May. It's Camping Mont Serein, at a ski and walking holiday base about 1,400m above sea level near Beaumont-du-Ventoux and reached by the Ventoux ascent from Malaucene. It's a flat site with incredible views of mountains to the north and the forested steep northern face of Ventoux behind you. Only 5k to walk to the summit on a lovely path. Good rides would be to descend to Malaucene and then to climb Ventoux via Bedoin or via the Gorges de la Nesque and Sault before dropping back to the site.
  • briantrumpetbriantrumpet Posts: 4,980
    Thanks for the replies. Done Alpe D'Huez area to death so really looking for different areas and what I've found is some of the lesser known areas make for better cycling - a lot depends on me talking others into it though hence including Ventoux as that's always a draw for people that haven't done it - if we can't get enough for a van then it may come down to flying down and doing a more traditional tour or leaving the car somewhere and doing a circular tour.
    One of the reasons I love the Dromois region is exactly that - little known outside of the area, plus it doesn't have the drawback of the high Alps of having mostly valley roads which by necessity are reasonably heavily used, and just one or two big passes. The Drôme has eight col roads out of the valley (none of them busy), but also a good network of minor roads too ... plus the beautiful Vercors plateau (beautiful when it's not raining, that is). I've been there for twenty weeks in total, and am still not bored...
  • mrc1mrc1 Posts: 852
    Opportunities are pretty endless here and it sounds like a fantastic endeavour - we (Le Domestique Tours) do lots of Bespoke tours along these lines so I have given a couple of options that we have previously done to give you some idea.

    One option which could work very well would be to utilise the initial stages of the Raid Alpine (which begins in Thonon les Bains on Lake Geneva), then cut west at an appropriate juncture (probably Modane three or so days in) to take you across to Ventoux (the route we use on Le Domestique Tour's King of the Mountains TdF would work very well for this and is one of the best and least well known day's riding you can do - link below - Raid Alpine route files are also available through our Strava).

    https://www.strava.com/routes/1130688

    Something like that would bag you lots of lesser known (but equally fantastic) Cols and give you a nice point to point experience.

    The other option would be to ride up from the Cote d'Azur. We do lots of Bespoke tours in this area and you can pretty much design a route that is as flat or mountainous as you like. One that springs to mind is a Bespoke Monaco to London we did which carved a less mountainous route out of Monaco and passed very close to Ventoux (you could build that into a three or four day ride very easily), but if you are keen on climbing you can go mad with the Madone (where Lance and Ferrari used to do their testing), Eze (Paris-Nice fame), Bonette (Cime road is the highest through road in Europe) etc etc all being possible. In addition there are a huge number of very good but basically unknown climbs in this area so you can build off a compelling tick sheet for your mates to get their interest.

    Hope this helps.
    http://www.ledomestiquetours.co.uk

    Le Domestique Tours - Bespoke cycling experiences with unrivalled supported riding, knowledge and expertise.

    Ciocc Extro - FCN 1
  • DeVlaeminckDeVlaeminck Posts: 6,036
    Thanks all good ideas.
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  • Fly to Bordeaux - ride across Lot / Aveyron / South Massif Central / Cevennes.
    I don't know the former regions but am heading there this September and believe they are great cycling country. Bordeaux is a lovely city. (Not looked but might be a bit more than 500 miles? Could fly instead to Toulouse in that case?)
    The latter two regions I rode through on a 9/10-day loop from Lourdes / Pyrenees to Nice a few years back, taking in Ventoux on the way as well as the Gorges du Tarn and the Gorge d'Ardeche.
    The Cevennes / south Massif Central was absolutely incredible - really wild country, pretty much unspoiled by tourism, cheap places to stay, really friendly - and quite bumpy without being silly like the Alps.
    In my view you want to ride the Pyrenees / Alps without panniers - doing a point-to-point with panniers aim for slightly less mountainous territory.
    The Gorges / Cevennes / MC fit the bill, IMO. Most fun I've ever had on my own.
    If you want any more pointers just shout.
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