Cycling Mont Ventoux via Sault: Start in lavendar fields and ride all the way to the moonscape summit
There are three ways to reach the summit of the iconic ‘Giant of Provence’. Cycling Mont Ventoux via Sault is the easiest way to reach the summit. Of course, that is all relative, as no climb of Ventoux can really be described as being ‘easy’. Still, this side of the climb skips out on the extremely steep gradients which you face on both the Bédoin or Malaucène approaches.
Gentle climb to begin with
The climb begins once you leave the town of Sault – famous for its lavender festival. Indeed depending on the time of the year you are riding, you may even smell the scent of lavender in the air, from the surrounding lavender farms. Once you pass the lavender fields you will start climbing through a wooded section. The gradients for the most part stay quite regular here and whilst you certainly know you are riding uphill, the road never gets too steep. The forest also provides some welcome shady relief from the sun which can be scorching hot during the summer months.
As the climb ticks on you hit an easier section as you have a few kilometers of false flat. This last section of the forest will allow for some good recovery as you reach Chalet Reynard. It is from here where the harder efforts will begin when riding the Ventoux climb via Sault. You reach the Chalet just as you leave the shelter of the forest and the bald rocky surroundings of the mountain reveal themselves.
Barren slopes lead to the summit of Mont Ventoux
The final section of the climb from Chalet Reynard is the same section that you face from the Bédoin approach. The trees which once grew on the slopes were cut down in the 12th century and turned into ships for the French navy. Due to the high winds which batter the mountain, this led to lots of erosion and the loss of soil meaning nothing was left to grow in their place. The exposed rocks now reveal the harsh, barren landscape which is ahead of you.
From Chalet Reynard, you round the corner and can see the road to the top winding its way up the mountain. You will also catch your first glimpse of the iconic red and white tower at the top. Take care on this section if it is windy as you will have no shelter or protection from the strong gusts which this area is renowned for. The French translation for Ventoux is windy and this is very apt. Two-thirds of the year the wind speeds recorded on the slopes are in excess of 90kph.
Tom Simpson Memorial
You will pass the Tom Simpson memorial approximately 1km from the top of the summit. It was during the 1967 edition of the Tour de France that Tom Simpson sadly died whilst racing on the Mont Ventoux climb. His death was attributed to the use of amphetamines which was commonly taken by riders of that era. The memorial is situated in the approximate spot where he fell from his bike. You’ll see just how close he was to reaching the top of the climb when his body sadly said no more. Many riders now leave a bidon, cycling cap, or another memento as a mark of respect for the rider.
Final kick to the top
One passed the memorial the gradient sticks to double figures. This is the steepest section of the climb from this approach. You will make your way around the steep right-hand hairpin and then finally, you reach the summit. If you are have ridden during the peak cycling season the summit will be a hive of activity with many other cyclists who have also ridden the climb. There are is also an opportunity to replenish food and water here as well. Once you have gotten your breath back and grabbed that summit photo your reward awaits you. Now you can look forward to the reward of a nice long downhill ride all the way back to where you started.
Suggested cycling route
Distance: 51.2km / 31.8mi
Start elevation: 765m / 2510ft
Max elevation: 1,909m / 5,365ft
Metres climbed: 1,381m /4,531ft
Metres descended: 1,381m / 4,531ft
Categorised climbs: 1
Food and water
There are options to top up with both food and water at Chalet Reynard. Depending on the time of year you are riding there are also roadside stalls at the summit of the climb.
- Riding through the lavender fields on the lower slopes – the scent of lavender permeates through the air .
- Tackling the challenging final 6kms from Chalet Reynard to the top.
- Standing at the top of the summit you enjoy some commanding views across the whole region.
Cycling Mont Ventoux via Sault is the longest way to reach the top, but that also makes for a nicer average gradient of 4.5%.
Elevation at top: 1,909m / 6,263ft
Mont Ventoux (Sault)
Length: 26km / 16.15mi
Average gradient: 4.5%
Start point: Sault
Cycling Mont Ventoux via Sault is just one of many great rides you can discover whilst you stay in the Luberon and Provence regions of France. We have mapped out several other rides which you may also wish to consider and you can read more about them here.
If you are interested in a holiday in this area of France then check out our destination guide. We have listed out lots of helpful information such as traveling to and from the region, accommodation available as well as other attractions and activities to explore.