France en Velo In the tracks of Le Tour de France
Here is another Provence biking route from Hannah Reynolds and John Walsh the authors of France en Vélo – The Ultimate Cycle Journey From Channel to Med – St-Malo to Nice.
Sault to Forcalquier 33 miles/53 kms
Le Tour de France visits Provence most years, often with Mont Ventoux as its leg breaking goal. Even if your style of riding is more toward the leisurely there is something breath taking about the whirring sound of wheels as a brightly coloured flock of professional cyclists zooms by. The noise, the speed and the rush of air as the peloton passes by is truly awe-inspiring.
For riders on the St-Malo to Nice route the stage from Sault to Forcalquier offers lots of opportunities for following in the wheel tracks of Le Tour both past and present. Starting in Sault at the foot of Mont Ventoux, although not officially part of the route those who are feeling keen can attempt an assault on this iconic mountain. Sitting at an altitude of 1,912m Mont Ventoux dominates the landscape of Provence and has played a pivotal role in the outcome of Le Tour de France on many occasions.
It was on the slopes of Mont Ventoux that the revered British rider Tom Simpson died of exhaustion and heart failure during the race on 13th July 1967. Don’t forget to bow your head as you pass the memorial or even stop and leave a water bottle or cap as a sign of respect. More recently in 2013 Mont Ventoux was the scene of Chris Froome’s stinging attack that left Contador trailing in his wake.
The 2014 Tour de France crossed paths with the St-Malo to Nice route on Sunday July 20th when stage 15 from Tallard to Nîmes passes through the small village of Banon. One of the quirkiest little villages on the St-Malo to Nice route this is an interesting place to stop and explore. The village’s principle attraction, its bookshop, Le Bleuet, stretches over three floors and offers 150,000 different titles.
For more great routes and Provence tips get your own copy of Hannah and John’s book.
France en Vélo The Ultimate Cycle Journey from Channel to Med – St-Malo to Nice by Hannah Reynolds and John Walsh is published by Wild Things Publishing and available from France en Velo. To get your copy for a special introductory price of £13.59, saving 20% off the RRP, enter code SMNGN at the checkout, free postage and packaging to UK destinations.For a guided holiday from St- Malo to Nice visit Skedaddle.