Cycling the Gorges de la Nesque – France’s most stunning balcony road?
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 you stay 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 the company and perhaps book a trip.
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 the 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.
Suggested cycling route
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
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)
- 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.
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
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