In the summer of 2017, I had gotten the crazy idea of cycling the Mont Ventoux 🙂 To get some altitude meters in my legs, I decided to ride the Gorges de la Nesque the day before. Second to only the Gorges du Verdon in the Provence, the Gorges de la Nesque is a stunning detour into the Mont Ventoux area.
I can highly recommend this ride through the Gorges de la Nesque. It was beautiful, relatively little traffic, good roads and lots of places to stop for a break. And the best part: it’s super easy to integrate into any itinerary in the area!
Ready? Let’s go for a ride 🙂
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The Gorges de la Nesque
The Gorges de la Nesque is located in the South of France in the Provence. It is located less than 20 kilometers from the Mont Ventoux. There is a small river (the Nesque) that supposedly runs down the Gorges, but in the summer I could hardly see it! The route through the Gorges de la Nesque is about 22km long and is at its heighest at 620 meters at Sault. The area around the Gorges de la Nesque is also famous for its lavender fields at summer but unfortunately I was a couple of weeks late to see it!
The starting point of the Gorges is near Villes sur Auzon. When you reach Villes sur Auzon, you have multiple options getting to Sault. There is one route over the col that gives easy and fast access to Sault (the D1). The other route (D1a) goes through the Gorges de la Nesque. This is basically the tourist route and takes longer to get to Sault.
The route through the Gorges de la Nesque is a stunning “balcony road“. Narrow driving lanes, sided by steep cliffs and accompanied by the most beautiful views. The road is basically carved out of the rock and has several low tunnels (watch out, campervans!). This road is not for the faint hearted and can definitely be ranked as a dangerous road! There are a lot of cyclists, especially in the summer. Overtaking them by car can be a challenge 🙂 So, why not get on your bike and explore it that way!
Cycling The Gorges de la Nesque
I had picked up a map of the cycling routes around the Mont Ventoux from the camping reception. Because I wanted to get some meters in before climbing the Mont Ventoux and explore the area a bit more, I opted for a challenging ride: cycling the Gorges de la Nesque. I integrated this is a loop of about 70 kilometers and was excited to get going!
The day before climbing the Mont Ventoux, I left Bedoin in the early morning from the campsite. I drove right through the village and started following the signs for Flassen. This quickly led me to Villes D’Auzon, the starting point of route 27 on the below map. Click on the picture to get a larger sized map!
I decided to uphill towards Sault and I can totally recommended this – you’ll go slower to enjoy more of the scenery 🙂
You can ride all the way to Sault, or start descending already from Monieux. Even though I was enjoying myself thoroughly it was already getting late. And because I was already riding approx 30km more than the original route because I started in Bedoin, I decided to stop at Monieux and skip Sault. This was a wise decision! From there on it was mostly downhill and some extra time to enjoy the view 🙂
I have to say, cycling the Gorges de la Nesque exceeded all my expectations. It was a stunning day with perfect temperatures and the views were to die for! With the Mont Ventoux looming in the background, this was a great warm-up for the big climb. The inclines of the Gorges de la Nesque were gradual and the descend very doable. There were also plenty of places to take a quick drink or photo break.
Apart from the obvious stops for water and food, there was also a lovely food truck on the road which provided for a great rest stop.
These are my Strava stats. It wasn’t my fastest ride, but it was so good! I stopped about hundred times just to enjoy the view too! There are quite some altitude meters and the last bit back up to Bedoin hurt quite a bit, but it was a very doable ride!
I hope I inspired you to look further than just the Mont Ventoux when you are in the area. Although the Mont Ventoux is on the wishlist of many cyclists, cycling the Gorges de la Nesque was, for me at least, a much more relaxed and enjoyable ride 🙂
If you have any questions with regards to this trip, feel free to leave a comment and I’m happy to answer any of your questions!