Cycling the Gorges de la Nesque – France’s most stunning balcony road?

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Image courtesy of: Pline / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

The most breathtaking balcony road in the Vaucluse region

If you are after a ride with some of the most breathtaking scenery, then cycling the Gorges de la Nesque is a must. This circuit is a loop from Bédoin which takes in the sights of the stunning Gorges de la Nesque. Certainly one of the most picturesque rides you can do whilst staying in this region. Enjoy breathtaking views as you pedal along what some call France’s most spectacular balcony roads. The gorge is located in the Vaucluse region of Provence and was carved out by the Nesque river. The road winds its way along the gorge and if you are afraid of heights just make sure not to peek over the edge! There are numerous tunnels carved into the limestone rock along the way and the twisty, turning nature of the road means there is often very little traffic as well. Perfect for cycling!

This route was provided to us by the good folks at Bike Weekender. They regularly run tours in this area of France and you can discover more about them here.

Be prepared for a gentle climb on the Gorges de la Nesque road

The gorge road begins gently climbing from the small commune of Villes-sur-Auzon. Whilst just under 20kms in total the average gradient is very sedate at 2.3% and there are no nasty gradients to overcome. The road hugs the edge of the mountain making this a most scenic and pleasant climb. Such a sharp contrast to Mont Ventoux which looms overhead. There is a lookout area at the Castellaras Belvedere which provides an impressive view to take in the gorge. From here you can look down into the depths of he gorge which plunge down almost 400m!

Route Variations – two different options to cycle the Gorges de la Nesque

You will see below we have links to two different cycling routes for the Gorges de la Nesque. The routes are fairly similar and both depart and finish in Bédoin (although you could begin the route from any village along this circuit). The cycling stats shown on this page are for the longer ride option. The shorter version of this ride will route you through the picturesque town of Sault. There is also less climbing on this route, with the majority of the climbs being in the first part of the ride.. Whichever option you choose, you will still be treated to the sensational vistas from the Balcony road through the Gorges de la Nesque. Of course given both options are a loop you can choose to do them in the opposite direction as a further variation.

Quick Stats

Distance: 93.3km / 58mi

Start elevation: 310m / 1,017ft

Max elevation: 831m / 2,726ft

Metres climbed: 1,655m / 5,429ft

Metres descended: 1,655m / 5,429ft

Categorised climbs: 1

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Image courtesy of: JYB Devot / CC BY-SA Pline / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

Food and water

There are a few options for food and water on this route including:

  • Bédoin at the start of the ride
  • Villes-sur-Auzon at the beginning of the Gorge road
  • Sault (if you choose the shorter ride)
  • Murs

Highlights

  • Enjoy riding on one of France’s most scenic balcony roads.

  • Stunning views of Mont Ventoux in the distance as you travel along the Gorges de la Nesque road.

  • The gorge road is generally very quiet in terms of motorised traffic – at times you will think you have it all to yourself – except for the passing cyclist!

  • Best views of the gorge are taken in from the lookout at Castellaras Belevedere. Here you can marvel at the Rocher de Cire mountain directly across the viewing point. At a height of 853m 2799ft it is impressive.
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Image courtesy of: Pline / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

The road taking you through the Gorges de la Nesque is a cyclists dream with tunnels carved through the limestone.

Gorges de la Nesque climb

Length: 19.7km / 12.2mi

Average gradient: 2.3%

Start point: Villes-sur-Auzon

Elevation at top: 739m / 2,424ft

Gorges de la Nesque et Mont Ventoux

Image courtesy of: Jean-Marc Rosier from http://www.rosier.pro / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)

From the Gorges de la Nesque the barren peak of Mont Ventoux can be seen imposing itself in the distance.

Bedoin - 07

Photography by Christophe.Finot / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)

This ride is a loop which starts and finishes in the town of Bédoin.

Discover our comprehensive guide to Cycling in Provence and the Luberon

Cycling along the Gorges de la Nesque is just one of many great rides in the Vaucluse region you can enjoy. This area of Provence and the Luberon is very popular with cyclists year round owing to the great weather and variety of terrain on offer.

If you are not familiar with this region then, our comprehensive guide will help you plan everything you need for your cycling holiday. The guide includes information such as:

  • a map of the Luberon and Provence region with climbs and towns marked
  • suggestions of the towns and villages to base yourself in
  • cycling specific hotels and lodges
  • bike hire outlets
  • getting to and from Nice
  • non-cycling attractions and activities in the region

Click here to see a list of cycling routes available in the Luberon and Provence.


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