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Mont Ventoux, Provence, France

Mont Ventoux (altitude: 1,912 m) is the highest peak in the mountain group Baronnies in Southern French Prealps. It is often called the "Beast of Provence" or the "Giant of Provence" because it is visible from many places of Provence. There are often strong winds at the summit, especially when the mistral is active. Wind speeds of up to 300 km/h were confirmed.

Mont Ventoux is also a legend of cycling race Tour de France as one of the most grueling climbs. In the 100th edition of the Tour de France, the Mont Ventoux was a final stage #15 (Givors - Mont Ventoux) on 14 July 2013. In 2016 the race finished before the summit because of strong wind mistral. In 2021, the summit was reached twice: the first time on the gentle side of the Sault, and then on a more demanding route - from the Bedoin side.

The route to the summit of Mont Ventoux

If you feel up to it, you may try to ride to the summit of Mont Ventoux on a bike. However, this is an extreme feat so in addition to have a good physical condition and right equipment you should make adequate medical examination. We drove to the mountain summit just by car.

Very nice asphalt road leads to the summit so virtually anyone with a car can drive the route during the summer. This does not mean that you will not have any surprises - we were driving to the summit when the mistral was blowing. Once we parked the car at the top (C; GPS: 44.174670, 5.279866) and got out of it, we felt as if someone wanted to tear off our heads. The wind was so strong and so cold that we could not stand, so we had to hide ourselves behind something. At the foot of the mountain was 30 degrees Celsius, and at the top it was only 7 degrees, with very cold wind which additionally reduced the temperature. Remember to bring a jacket or other warm clothing, and of course a hat!

We drove to the summit from the south side, and we were leaving it northwards. However, you can do the opposite - it all depends on what you prefer. More than 20 km route leading to the summit begins in the Bédoin village. Halfway to the top you can park the car and go to the restaurant "Le Chalet Reynard" (B; GPS: 44.152165, 5.318660). In this place the landscape begins to change dramatically - dense afforestation gives way to occasional remains of vegetation, and everything becomes a stony desert. At the top we can see almost only rocks, resembling a lunar landscape. These rocks are erroneously perceived as "eternal snow" because their bright color (they are limestone) makes they are visible from afar and resemble the color of snow. There is a meteorological observatory, as well as a television transmitter at the summit. You also have a possibility to park a car on the road or in small parking lots.

Petrarch on Mont Ventoux

On 26th April 1336 the Italian poet Francesco Petrarch (Petrarca) (lived in Fontaine-de-Vaucluse, known from famous sonnets to Laura) climbed to the top of Mont Ventoux. In the letter, written around 1350, Petrarch claimed to be the first person from antiquity to climb to the top only because of strictly aesthetic reasons - he wanted to get exceptional views.

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