Mount Vaucluse offers a real challenge when cycling in France

In the south-east of France you will find the mountainous Department of Vaucluse. It is perhaps best known for being the home of Mount Ventoux, a mountain which reaches up to nearly 2000 metres. This is an area particularly popular with mountain bikers and hikers as there are some excellent trails in the hills around the mountains. For road cyclists, this is also a great destination as it is well known for being part of the Tour de France.

The main town in this part of France is Avignon, which is a very historical and cultural city filled with churches and museums to visit. Other than Avignon, the town of Orange is also well worth a visit and it has some spectacular Roman architecture.

The mountain is also one of the stages of the most famous cycle race in the world, the Tour de France. Generally there is a stage that finishes at the top of the mountain and this has occurred eight times in the race’s history.

It is regarded as being one of the most challenging ascents in the entire race and there are 21 kilometres of roads with a gradient which averages at 7.5 percent. This is a gradient that will challenge even expert cyclists, so if you attempt this it is going to be an incredible challenge.

Cycling up this mountain is something of a pilgrimage for cyclists and on the way up you will find the memorial to Tom Simpson, the British cyclist riding in the Tour de France who died on the mountain in the 1960s. Most cyclists stop at the site on the way up and pay their respects to the rider.