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Passion des massifs… Massacan en mode exploration

Passion for the massifs… Massacan in exploration mode

A loop from Nîmes to Nîmes, with the Gard, Vaucluse and Lubéron as essential passages, with its emblematic Mont Ventoux and its lavender fields. Four days of discoveries in a cool atmosphere despite unpredictable weather. But that didn't dampen our determination for this long-awaited trip.


The day before our departure, we arrived in Nîmes to prepare our bikes and refine our itinerary on Komoot. We also booked our first hotel, because we were opting for a light trip. Given the weather, we were all delighted to be able to dry off in front of the bathroom blowers ; some will even leave melted soles there...


The big day was total excitement ! We strapped our saddlebags on tightly, boosted ourselves with 10 coffees, and off we went, crossing the Gard on increasingly beautiful tracks. Discovery for each of us, with the Pont du Gard as our first objective. This majestic Roman aqueduct which carried water to Nîmes! Imposing, crossing a river that made you want to make bombs and have fun like kids. The tourists were there, in picnic mode in the sun, while we descended the few steps with our bikes on our shoulders. Sandwiches, ice cream, and presto, we were off again. We had about 60 km left of the 100 planned, so there was no question of hanging around. When a huge portal loomed in front of us in the middle of nowhere, we hesitated, looked at each other, then decided to take the risk. We found ourselves in a somewhat gloomy hunting reserve, and no one dared to speak, total silence and tight buttocks; we came across captive deer. Quickly, we left and found another portal, phew, here we are on the other side. And there, it was gravel Cadillac (translation: ultra-wide and rolling tracks) towards the Dentelles de Montmirail in Vaucluse, to reach the village of Beaumes-de-Venise.

A promising first day to prepare us for Ventoux the next day. Once in the village, we stopped at the bistro, Ricard and pistachios, then pasta and pizzas in a small hotel. The first marks of sun on the faces and calves for others. Come on, good night, tomorrow is serious.



The second day, we woke up in the rain, praying that it would pass while we had coffee and stuffed ourselves with butter and jam toast. Bad luck, the first pedal strokes were done in the rain, with the rain jackets and hoods pulled up to the top. We took muddy and slippery vineyard paths, to the delight of Antoine, who was beginning to wonder what he had gotten himself into. Matt filmed the scene and had a great laugh. On the first road, we removed all the mud accumulated on our tires with a stick... some left almost a kilo of very sticky earth.

Then, it was hard on the road, and here we were officially at the foot of the Dentelles de Montmirail. A sharp, eroded rock formation above us. For the record, “Montmirail” comes from the Latin “mons mirabilis”, meaning “mountain or admirable mountain”.

Despite the rain, we admired the panorama. More or less rolling, we landed on a rough track with rocks cut into the shape of scissors (okay, I'm exaggerating a little), but I had a puncture (okay, I already had a small leak to be honest), direct ! But Matt managed it brilliantly, in a flash, I pumped up again, and off we went back to Malaucène, where we ate a big omelette and fries to regain our strength...

And bam, big piece, Ventoux. It was 2:30 p.m., we were leaving the table... you see the picture, it won't be fun, well especially for me and Antoine, but we're on vacation, not in a hurry but we're moving forward.



The track was incredible, a gradual climb through the woods to reach Chalet Liotard, and there we had 5 kilometers left on a closed road, alone in the world. Not a single drop of water left, we were exhausted, but everything was forgotten when we saw the summit.

A few photos along the way with the snow that remained at the side of the road, and here we are finally at the top, and it's still just as magnetic. There were maybe 3 tourists with us at the top. The weather was threatening. We bought sodas in the grocery store that was still open, we petted Sven, a big, magnificent dog we met up there, and we got dressed quickly. Click, click, photo.



The rain is coming. We put on everything we have and descend as safely as possible in the downpour. 20 km of descent to Bédoin, you just had to let yourself slide. There, we slept at Colette’s! A room and three beds, like at camp. We were soaked and disgusting, but Colette didn't care, she was used to welcoming cyclists. We took turns in the shower, got dressed up and went to the Paradiso pizzeria (like the film), and had a great time : calzone, 4 cheeses, tiramisu and pitcher of red. It was hot, it was smoking in the small room, Italian football poster on the wall, we were fine. We talked about the next day's program until we were the last customers. We went to bed full.

In the morning, it was finally almost sunny. Breakfast at the local bakery where we stocked up. It was crowded with people, villagers and passing tourists; often, cyclists would fill up on carbs before setting off again. For us today, it's heading to the Luberon to sleep at the foot of the Alpilles.



In a very small village, a passerby knew our bikes and stopped us; his son was a fan of the brand. He took a photo of us. Something like that in the middle of nowhere is nice. We stopped to buy a postcard and have a last coffee before heading out onto the paths. The Gorges de la Nesque awaited us. Cliffs and rock faces made us dizzy, promising us a beautiful descent and a very technical climb for everyone's pleasure. It was borderline, but in reality, it went very well and everyone was sweating until the end!

On arrival, we land on a crazy plateau with a steep descent. Everyone takes off like a rocket, sweeping the stones onto the track. At the end, we take small roads and vineyard paths. No one is alone in the world. In a small pass, you stretch a little, your legs feel good and you want to ride. The small roads are super charming and even make us want to prolong the moment on the asphalt. It winds, it’s narrow and above all, it’s super isolated. From a distance, we can see our objective : the village of Roussillon for a pancake. It's warm and we can finally enjoy wearing a t-shirt. In the village, there is a terrace and gourmet ravito. The tourists are in droves, it feels strange after the absolute calm, but it's only for a short time. Leaving Roussillon, we see the ridge road in front of us. A road closed to cars in the middle of a cedar forest. A little paradise that we really want to extend. More than 18 kilometers from Bonnieux ; a slight climb and then it's completely flat, going down to Cavaillon. In the meantime, we just have to enjoy the panorama and the wind which shakes us a little.

It's incredible to be there ! We want to go back while we're still there, wondering where to take a good photo.



The day ends with a downpour which will really rinse us off ; It’s raining like a cow pissing, my mother would say. In short, we arrived more than soaked at the lodge, and it had stopped raining. But this evening, we treat ourselves to the Aubergine restaurant in Eygalières, a small village in the Alpilles which makes you want to linger. A bottle of Terres Blanches please, and we share a large piece of brie with truffle as an aperitif; we have every right to have fun.

The skin is pink and cracked, and after the first glass, you're already tipsy. At the exit, we cycle down the 4 km to reach our bed in the neighboring village. A short night tour which marks the end of this journey before returning to the city. But for the moment, we let ourselves go down a country road wrapped in our down jackets. We are good. Very good.