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Provence

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Discover
the Routes
du Bonheur of...

Cadel Evans
View all the Routes du Bonheur

Australian cyclist, winner of the 2011 Tour de France
My ‘bike’ tour through Provence

I discovered Provence thanks to my bike, as you might imagine. When I was in Australia, I used to dream about the Tour de France and when I had the opportunity to take part in it, I was bowled over by the region, its hills and vineyards, its sun and the hospitality of the local people. I was also fascinated by Mount Ventoux, which is a really difficult climb for cyclists and yet so beautiful and majestic when you observe it from a distance, with its cap of white stones.

This is how I discovered that Provence has long been a paradise for the amateur cyclist, with its quiet, winding roads, and its villages perched on rocky outcrops where you can stop for a break. There is an infinite choice of different trips through the area and this route is typical of them – country hotels where you can stop, and the opportunity, in some of the R&C along the route, to hire a bicycle and set off wherever your heart takes you.

I am proud of having come to know the region well, as I was lucky enough, in 2010 & 2011, to stay at La Coquillade Hotel for training and relaxation. It was, in a sense, a kind of Heaven on Earth.

Departure: Avignon (Avignon TGV station) or Marseille (airport) then Crillon-le-Brave.
Arrival: Aix-en-Provence (Aix-en-Provence TGV station), after the visit to Salon de Provence.

Relais & Châteaux proposes its Routes du Bonheur for your inspiration: they are suggestions of itineraries that you can adapt to your preferences and desired experiences. Our advisors are at your disposal to individualise your routes and help you make reservations at our properties.
Example for a four-night stay from €843*
* Minimum indicative rate per person, subject to availability, on the basis of a double room with double occupancy, including accommodation, breakfast and dinner (menu, without beverages) in the properties suggested for the itinerary.
Activities on site and nearby must be reserved by you.

Credits: Tim de Waele

My Route du Bonheur
Stage 1: 2 days, one night

Hôtel Crillon le Brave

Situated on the summit of the village of Crillon le Brave, surrounded by vineyards
Hôtel Crillon le Brave
How would you like to stay in a 100% Relais & Châteaux village, in the heart of Provence? That is just what Crillon le Brave offers. It is a stunning hotel which occupies seven stone village houses. Below it, the tiny streets are extensions of the corridors of the hotel, its rooms are elegant, its Provençal restaurant is sophisticated and the pool is sheer delight. An indescribable feeling of grace descends on cyclists and other guests, as they look out over famous Mount Ventoux.

Close to the property...

Baumes de Venise

Some ten kilometres to the west of Crillon le Brave, the large village of Beaumes-de-Venise is built into the Dentelles de Montmirail, a splendid jagged rocky limestone crest…, criss-crossed with tiny routes which are ideal for cycling! Its vine-clad slopes are also famous for their excellent wines and I can recommend the highly-reputed muscat of Beaumes-de-Venise, a fortified wine that you can taste in one of the many cellars in the village.

www.ot-beaumesdevenise.com
www.beaumesdevenise-aoc.fr

On the route...

Le mont Ventoux - kilometre 25

Mount Ventoux, nicknamed the ‘Giant of Provence’, with its 1,912 m and its white stony summit, towers over the Carpentras area and its vines. It stands in isolation, and the two routes up it are, to my mind, amongst the finest in France, whether by car… or by bicycle. If you climb it by bike you are a seasoned cyclist and its ribbon of tarmac still vibrates with the exploits of famous climbers. The drive up to Sault and its lavender fields is truly memorable.

www.ventoux-en-provence.com
www.saultenprovence.com

My memory of the Ventoux…

This peak sums up what cycling is for me. I have raced up it several times and I once even enjoyed the privilege of winning, on its slopes, stage 4 of Paris-Nice, in 2008. Providing you try to forget the effort involved in climbing it, what is amazing about Ventoux, is the way your surroundings change from agricultural plain to desolate summit. There is nothing quite like it – you really should go and see for yourself.

Nesque gorges - kilometre 33

Between Mount Ventoux and the Luberon, I was delighted to discover the 28 km of road which winds along the Nesque gorges, between Sault and Villes-sur-Auzon. This is a truly picturesque and wild route through the limestone Plateau de Vaucluse. The Nesque cuts a gash through the landscape and threads its way through a tunnel of lush green. The cliff road offers superb views over the valley. At the panoramic viewpoint of Castellaras, there is a splendid vista of the string of gorges one after the other.

www.saultenprovence.com

We can advise you on booking your route. Contact central reservations :

1 800 735 2478

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Phase 2: 1 day, 1 night

La Bonne Étape

Sun changes colours into perfumes
La Bonne Étape
Are the Gleize family just being modest? This Bonne Etape could easily have been called the “Délicieuse Etape”. Located on the Napoléon route, the former post dating back to the 17th century looks like something out of a Giono novel. Under the windows of the mansion is the superb vegetable garden, “an English garden with a Provençal touch”, as Jany Gleize has put it. The scents of thyme, rosemary and wild mushrooms make this star cuisine what it is. A real trip in Provence…

Close to the property...

Les Pénitents des Mées

The legend attributed to these rocks is said to date back to the end of the 19th century. The families of the region still speak of these stones in half-words; they evoke petrified monks in their frocks and wearing pointy hoods, in a kind of fear. The beliefs here are strong ones, and even today the tour guides give the name “Pénitents des Mées” to the site. You cannot miss this geological formation, formed by the erosion of bedrock, which stretches nearly 2.5 km along the plateau.

La Citadelle de Sisteron

Just look up from the handlebars and you will see something majestic, overlooking the Durance valley. From the top of its rocky outcrop, la Citadelle de Sisteron dominates the whole Haute Provence region. From its bastions or its keep, it is possible to see enemy troops arriving (from very far away), or the smallest escape from the pack of runners. Built in the 13th century, the Citadelle has not stopped seeing its architecture changing over the centuries. A 6-language soundtrack lets one discover its incredible history …

La Citadelle de Sisteron

We can advise you on booking your route. Contact central reservations :

1 800 735 2478

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Revenir en haut de page
Stage 3: one day, one night

Le Couvent des Minimes Hôtel & Spa

In the heart of an aromatic garden
Le Couvent des Minimes Hôtel & Spa
Just imagine a former 17th century Franciscan convent, the countryside of upper Provence with its fragrances of lavender, a star-studded sky such as you can see nowhere else in France – here you are at Couvent des Minimes, a superb hotel. It is the ideal place to take a break within its historic walls, deep in the heart of Giono’s Provence. Just like me, you will be delighted to put your bicycle to one side, and luxuriate in the serenity of its rooms and the delights of its Mediterranean-inspired cuisine.

Close to the property...

Le spa « L’Occitane »

Couvent des Minimes, and its ‘L’Occitane’ spa with its indoor chromatherapy pool, its 100% organic treatment rooms, its hammam and sauna, has all the equipment you need to forget the efforts you have expended, big or small, on your bicycle! This famous Provençal brand of body and skincare products is the repository of an entire universe of fragrances and beauty care which can be enjoyed summer and winter alike in total relaxation.

spa.loccitane.com

The Prieuré de Salagon

I was thrilled to discover this magnificent Romanesque priory, with its plain façade and its fine doorway, in Mane, right next to Couvent des Minimes. You should park your bike and leave the Provençal sun to step inside and find out more in the Museum of the Ethnographic Heritage of Haute-Provence. You will also enjoy strolling through the gardens of Salagon, which provide a superb introduction to the wide diversity of mountain species of Mediterranean flora.

musee-de-salagon.com

Mane, such a pretty village

I really like this village, which is ideally located between Provence and the Alps… the ones in Haute-Provence! You can appreciate its calm and solitude all the more when you learn that the commune boasts important remains of the past. There is, of course, Couvent des Minimes, a superb R&C hotel. There is also the Prieuré de Salagon, the Château de Sauvan (a mini Versailles!), the Roman bridge and vestiges of aristocratic residences. I even learnt that the Romans had sent the Via Domitia through Mane…

mane-en-provence.com

On the route...

The Observatoire de Haute-Provence - Kilometer 9

Some small domes dotting the garrigue will no doubt have caught your attention, in the direction of Saint-Michel – they are the Observatoire, ten kilometres to the south of Mane. It is an astronomical observatory, set up at the end of the 1930s because of the very clear skies in the area. There are always astronomers at work there and this interesting astronomical centre also offers the general public an introduction to the mysteries of the heavens, observations of the night sky and a programme of events.

www.obs-hp.fr

We can advise you on booking your route. Contact central reservations :

1 800 735 2478

Indicate the code : VELO

Calling from another country ? Click here

Revenir en haut de page
Stage 4: one day, one night

La Coquillade

True Provencal art de vivre, a timeless pleasure
La Coquillade
La Coquillade is perched on a Luberon hill, in a former hamlet that has been turned into prestigious accommodation, and is my favourite hotel – it has huge charm and splendid views, perfect comfort with a blend of traditional and contemporary in the guestroom. There are also its stunning wines… which are produced on the estate of the hotel. It is the dream stop for a wine tour. And if you want relaxation and leisure, there’s always the pool, the hammam, the tennis courts… and bike rides along the country roads of Provence.

Close to the property...

The legendary villages of Luberon by bicycle

If you enjoy cycling, like I do, it’s time to mount your bike! From La Coquillade, it’s only 60 km by racing or mountain bike, which are provided by the hotel, to Roussillon, Gordes, Ménerbes and Bonnieux, four of the most famous villages in the Luberon. Enjoy the chance to see the ochre buildings of the Roussillon, the tiered houses in Gordes, the attractions of Ménerbes. On the way, vineyards and orchards will confirm that you are indeed in the heart of a ‘Land of Plenty’.

www.roussillon-provence.com
www.gordes-village.com
www.tourisme-en-luberon.com (Bonnieux, Ménerbes)

Wine Tasting in La Coquillade’s Aureto cellar

The Luberon is a land of flavours with a reputation for wines. After a bike excursion, what better than to taste some wine at La Coquillade estate and enjoy their subtle Provençal aromas. The wines which are produced on thirty hectares of land by sustainable agriculture can be tasted in a leisurely fashion under the watchful eye of Pierre, who is in charge of the Aureto cellar, or at the ‘Bistrot’ at La Coquillade. The estate also offers tasting workshops.

www.aureto.fr

Ode to the paradise of the bicycle…

I simply have to mention Hotel La Coquillade again, as this hotel is, for me, a paradise in paradise. Gourmet cuisine, total comfort, exceptional views …, perfect in all respects. The myriad of little roads all around the hotel and the village of Gargas, are a delight for cyclists and provide the opportunity to explore the finest towns in Provence that I have ever seen.

We can advise you on booking your route. Contact central reservations :

1 800 735 2478

Indicate the code : VELO

Calling from another country ? Click here