After all the history of the popes we needed to see some countryside so we headed out of Avignon to visit Mont Ventoux. The outline of Mont Ventoux can be seen from Avignon and is 1912m (6215ft) high. Mount Ventoux has become legendary as the scene of one of the most grueling climbs in the Tour de France bicycle race, which has ascended the mountain fifteen times since 1951. It is seen as one of the serious cyclists’ challenges whichever of the three routes you can take up the mountain.
In driving to the start of the road up to Mount Ventoux we passed acres after acres of vineyards and small villages perched high on rock outcrops. We stopped at one for morning coffee.
We took the road from the small town of Malaucene and climbed steadily passing quite a few cyclists. Rather them than us! The views were stunning. As we got nearer the top the environment changed with the top of the mountain being bare limestone with no trees or vegetation. We stopped only for a short while as the wind was buffeting the car and trying to stand up outside the car was almost impossible. The wind blows at 90+ km/h (56+ mph) 240 days a year and wind speeds as high as 320 km/h (200 mph) have been recorded.
Descending down the mountain we came back into vegetation and softer valleys and now lavender fields. We stopped at the small village of Sault before finding the road through the Gorges de la Nesque. The narrow road winds above the canyon punctuated with tunnels and panoramic viewpoints but needed some concentration to drive it.
It had certainly been a different day.