La Grande Boucle des Pyrénées
 


Nice - Mont Ventoux

 

The start of "La Grande Boucle des Pyrenees" is in Nice, the capital of the Côte d'Azur. It's a cosmopolitan tourist destination for sun lovers, but you change the busy seaside soon for the unspoiled mountains of the Provence.

You pass in the first stage the narrow and beautiful Gorges du Loup, do already quite some climbing and finish in Castellane. The laid-back village has a pretty central square where the locals play boules surrounded by plane trees that are a hundred years old. 

You continue on the northern rim of the Grand Canyon du Verdon. The largest canyon in Europe is a dramatic series of limestone cliffs, stunning views, dramatic waterfalls and a startling turquoise-green river is floating up to 700 meters deep.

The Mont Ventoux towers in the distance as you cycle through the lavender fields of the Provence. The mountain is a magnet for cyclists throughout the summer and is probably the second most famous climb in the world after l'Alpe d'Huez. The Mont Ventoux became famous on July 13th, 1967 when the British cyclist Tom Simpson rode himself to exhaustion on the slopes and died. There is a memorial to Tom Simpson on the southern side of the mountain, just over one kilometre from the summit.
You start your climb to the summit of the Mont Ventoux from Sault, the easiest side. The last six kilometres come the Mistral wind into play and can buffet a cyclist all over the road. The seven percent gradient can feel more like 15 percent. On a good day it is possible to see as far as the Alps to the north and the Mediterranean to the south. A rest day in the shadow of the Mont Ventoux gives you the opportunity to reach the summit also via Bedoin or Malaucène.  
104 km
120 km
101 km