Sheona's 5 Sights to See when Pedalling Provence
Being a fairly new addition to the team here at Macs Adventure, I jumped at the chance when I found out that one of our new routes was needing some research. In October, I headed to Provence to Pedal through the Luberon Valley. Not only was it a fantastic experience, getting to see first hand 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. 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 definitely worth it. Roussillon is a picturesque little village (one of the Plus Beaux Villages de France) situated on top of an orange ochre cliff and it's location means that you have a spectacular view into the Luberon Valley. There are 2 main viewpoints in Roussillon: one at the village square, and a second, higher viewpoint at the very North of the village. My tip would be to visit this second one as the view is clearer and it's 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 an amazing 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
Your first village stop on the Pedalling Provence trip 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 into 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, with one 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 literally 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 fairly 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 is quite amazing. 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.
To visit Provence, I highly recommend getting around by bike. It's perfect cycling countryside! I followed the Pedalling in Provence itinerary through the Luberon Valley, but there are options for road cyclists which include Mont Ventoux, or at the opposite end of the spectrum, really relaxed bike & boat itineraries in other areas of Provence.