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Written by
Jo Payne
Jo Payne

Provence: Only for ‘hardcore’ cyclists?

Firstly, a confession. I didn’t know much about Provence before joining Macs. I’m old enough to remember ‘A Year in Provence’, the book and then TV series, but young enough that I didn’t really pay any attention to it at the time!

However, I do like cycling. I watched the Tour de France as a wee boy with my dad and know a little bit about it by now. Certainly, I know that one of the most iconic days, that they have to endure every few years or so, is the horrendously long and arduous Mont Ventoux stage. Upon discovering Mont Ventoux was actually in Provence and I was lucky enough to be visiting this crazy mountain with its incredible reputation, to say I was a little excited would be an understatement. Of course, Provence would be nice. Mont Ventoux, in my mind, would be the undoubted highlight. 20150528_170546

On the day of visiting Mont Ventoux itself, it was everything I’d expected and more; swathes of amateur, or recreational road cyclists, call it what you will, attempting to grind and sweat their way to the summit. Riders of different years, shapes and sizes united in a single, collective, iconic goal. To get to the top. And it became clear that among the different coloured lycra, that there were other various and notable challenges attached to their efforts. Not just a single ride to the top for charity for some it seemed, no, we heard on the day of people attempting the climb three, four, five, even six times! One could only admire the impressive feats and the deserved mutual back-slapping and embracing as the many cyclists looked down from the notorious ‘lunar-esque’ landscaped mountain peak.   20150528_171707 One would really assume from the description of that day this was really a cycling area only for the hardiest of road cyclists, serious challenge bikers, or even just downright hardcore hill-climbing cycling nuts.

Well, as I discovered from Provence, actually no, not at all.

We were lucky enough to try pretty much all the favoured Macs Adventure types of holiday cycling; touring bikes, mountain bikes and quickly becoming the new favourite cycle of choice here at Macs (as well as it being a personal revelation), e-bikes! If you are happy to ‘tour on a tour’, and your idea of cycling is to potter along gently gazing at the flowers and smelling the beautiful locally produced lavender, or even occasionally stopping to pop into family-run produce shops to sample their cheeses, pates and jams, the Provence countryside is perfect. 20150528_154013  

Or, if you want to take the bike off the beaten track and really get in amongst the outdoor Provence sights and sounds a little bit more, as well as experience the best that the terrain has to offer, then the mountain biking is also ideal. And finally, if you want to sample a bit of it all and you’re just not sure what kind of Provence cycling you’d prefer, or you just want a little helping hand cycling when the legs start to get weary and the ascents just feel too much, then, yep, you’ve guessed it, e-bikes are definitely the answer too! They have a very pleasant catalytic-like boost that helps take the pressure when you need it and really allow you to enjoy your cycling around Provence. Which you will do. No matter who you are and what you choose your bike to be, this captivating area is suitable for enjoying all manner of cycling. 20150527_174727

Actually, come to think of it, anyone can cycle Mont Ventoux really. Those e-bikes really are amazing. Surely it’s only a matter of time before they introduce them in the Tour de France…….

For cycling trips in Provence for all levels of cyclist (with or without a climb of Mont Ventoux), visit our Provence cycling pages on our website.