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A ride in Western Provence

A ride in Western Provence

A motorcycle ride in the heart of high Provence !

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From olive oil to melons and the local wine, the first step of our motorcycle journey takes us in the tracks of this generous wilderness that has always been renowned in Provençal cuisine. 

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From Avignon,the major town of Vaucluse county, we follow the road signs of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. The village is home of the remains of a castle that was used as a second residency for the Popes. But it is especially due to its wine ranked among the 13 grands crus côtes du Rhône , that Châteauneuf-du-Pape owes its fame. We continue our provence bike roadtrip by taking a portion of the scenic wine road of the Côtes-du-Rhône until Châteauneuf de Gadagne). The wine cellars are numerous, a good opportunity to improve  our wine culture knowledge and gratify our nose and palate. We leave the country road n°6 near Noves to reach Saint Rémy-de-Provence. This typical village of provence that marks the boundaries with the mountain range of Alpilles, a vast set of small mountains with white and rocky peaks. They surround extremely fertile lands , struck all day long by the sun. 

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The Olive or almond  trees fields stretch out as far as the eye can see and the roads are wide and sinuous as you can hope to make any motorcycle rider happy. Covered with a very good asphalt in good condition, they easily push any biker to a sporty ride, especially between Saint-Rémy-de Provence and Les Baux-de-Provence: 8 miles of pure good joy, even with our BMW 650 GS, not as powerful as a BMW 1200 GS. Perched on a rocky outcrop, the city of Baux-de-Provence  is dominated by a castle built in the Middle Ages. Sometimes abandoned, sometimes restored at the mercy of wars, the village is now protected as a historical monument and offers infinite charm which blends rock and architecture, not to mention a breathtaking panorama on the Provence scenery.

After crossing the Alpilles with our bikes, we catch up quickly the wide open spaces of one of the richest fruit and vegetable plains in France, who gave to the city of Cavaillon its title of capital of the melon. We finish our first day in the small village of Fontaine de-Vaucluse. Its name comes from a miraculous chasm from which flows the emerald green water of the river Sorgue.

60 provence motorcycle tour franceMade famous by many artists, the regional park of the Luberon attracted both by the beauty of the its landscapes than by its beautiful stretches of roads perfectly design for motorcycle touring.  Early in the morning, we hit the road to the small alpine chain culminating at Mourre Nègre, at 1125 m. After the villages of Isle-sur-la-Sorgue and Pernes les-Fontaines, crossing the Murs pass (627 m) tells the story. The winding road is an alternate series of forests and gorges. A few kilometers further, we park our motorbikes in Gordes, probably the most spectacular village in the Luberon area. The narrow, paved streets give way to arches and vaulted passages that one never tires of visiting on foot or on your bike at slow speed.

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From then on, the road will be a succession of perched villages, true strongholds built  in the Middle Ages to protect themselves from the enemies. They find today a second breath thanks to tourism. Their steep streets and their shaded squares invite you to dawdling.

On our way , we find the restored ruins and the flowered terraces of Oppède le Vieux, the houses of master of Menerbes where lived, among others, the painter Picasso and French writer Albert Camus; the ramparts of Bonnieux, the castle of Ansouis ; the deep valley of Lourmarin, dug in the limestone massif, which allows to cross the mountain of Luberon region from north to south and finally the rock of Bellevue, on the heights of the beautiful village of Saignon , which offers a breathtaking view on the Rhone Valley. The loop ends in Roussillon, nicknamed the Colorado of Provence. The ocher earth, that surround you everywhere, declines its shadings on the houses walls, the hills and the edges of the surroundings.

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The last part of the journey, from Apt to Ville sur Auzon will allow you to ride your bike and roll freely on wild winding roads. Road asphalt is not as good as before but enough to ride with fun and pleasure and without apprehension until your reach Carpentras. The village of Sault on this last stretch is a stopover not to be missed. From the color of the shutters to the perfumes of ice, lavender is everywhere in all its forms. So a tip, open your helmet’s visor and nostrils and let yourself be guided by the smell of this pretty little purple flower.

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A stocky giant with a bald head, the Mont Ventoux moutain rises to an elevation of 1912 meters and watches over the surrounding roads like a windmill.

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Before starting and launch your motorcycle at the conquest of this the mythical ride to the observatory , we choose to get around the Ventoux by the gorges of the Nesque and Toulourenc to get a better view on the steep slopes of its summit. This fantastic landscape alone worth the detour. On one side, the rocky peaks cut by the local wind called the Mistral, on the other the bottom of the gorges where meanders the streams. Facing us, emerging from a mist coat : the Ventoux summit.

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On the Montbrun-les-Bains  side, many river basins  allow tourists to bathe in the river warmed by the sun. The Aulan Pass (845 m) marks the entrance of the valley of Ouvèze where olive trees grows in abundance. The road follows the river and leads to the waterfalls where its good to refresh before the climb ride to Mount Ventoux. The ride up the road on the Tour de France traditional side toward the pass of the Storms. We cross the forest of Ventouret until the refuge of  Chalet- Reynard , a sort of intermediate stop for a break between the leafy and colorful part of Mont Ventoux and the chaotic landscape of the summit. The road climbs very strongly , with series of turns and switchbacks. Once at the top. for a moment, it's like being on top of the world ...

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To discover this region you may choose between the self-guided tour of Provence, a 6 days ride from L'Isle sur la Sorgue to Menton on the french Riviera or the Tour de France guided tour where we spend 2 days of ride in this region.

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