Being a relatively new addition to the team here at Macs Adventure, I jumped at the chance to go on one of our trips in France. So, in October, I headed to Provence to Pedal through the Luberon Valley. Not only was it a fantastic experience, getting to see firsthand what it takes to put together one of our trips, but I got a chance to explore a part of France I hadn't seen before. So, if you fancy spending a week cycling through the rolling hills of Provence, take a look at my Top 5 Sights to See on your journey!
1. Sunrise from the top of Roussillon
Okay, so this one does require an early rise, but it is worth it. Roussillon is a picturesque little village (one of the Plus Beaux Villages de France) situated on an orange ochre cliff. Its location means that you have a spectacular view of the Luberon Valley. There are two main viewpoints in Roussillon: one at the village square and a second, a higher viewpoint at the very North of the village. My tip would be to visit this second one as the view is clearer and much quieter! Not only that, but you can also see Mount Ventoux in the distance. As I was there towards the end of the season, sunrise was at 8:04 am. Not too early a start and the cold wind certainly woke me up! The clouds were kind, and the sky was clear, so I got a fantastic view of the sun clearing the hills in the distance and flooding the valley with light. A perfect start to the day!
2. The View from Bonnieux
On the Pedalling Provence trip, your first village stop is Bonnieux, a fairly thriving village with plenty of steep winding streets. After the first day's cycle and checking into my hotel, I took a walk up to the church at the very top of the village. This was my first proper view of the valley, and it was breathtaking. At the very top stands a 12th Century church, and from here, you'll be able to see the full depth of the valley and the winding streets of Bonnieux below you. And if sunsets are your thing, it's a great spot to see the sun dip behind the village of Lacoste.
3. The Markets of Provence
Provence is famed for its markets, taking place somewhere every day during peak season. I was lucky to be heading in the direction of Apt when they had their huge Saturday market and spent some time wandering through the stalls, of which there are hundreds. Everything from soaps to sausages is on sale, with plenty of people tempting you to try out some local Provencal fare. It's a great place to pick up some souvenirs or fresh food for a picnic later on in the day.
4. Pont Julien
Day 1 of cycling is pretty relaxed compared to the rest of the trip, with smooth cycle paths and flat roads for most of your route. Pont Julien marks a nice rest stop before you make the ascent to Bonnieux and is a perfect place for a Provencal Picnic. Hop off your bike (taking care to secure it!), take a walk down the banks, and - hopefully - spend some time in the sun next to this 2000-year-old feat of engineering.
5. Roussillon Quarry Walk
On my day off in Roussillon, I decided to take a wander through the old Ochre Quarry. It was something I had never seen before, and it was terrific. This geological marvel was used for mining ochre pigment for over 100 years, up until 1930. Since then, the site has been preserved and only takes 30-60 minutes to walk around, giving you some insight into the history of the ochre industry.