Mont Ventoux

Mont Ventoux, a road swept violently by the winds

Mont Ventoux is a high mountain peak at an elevation of 1.912m (6,273ft) above the sea level, located in the Provence region of southern France. It’s considered the most fearsome of France's climbs, with the asphalt rising consistently at around 10 percent most of the way, and exposed to often very strong winds.

What does Ventoux mean?

This infamous mountain has been nicknamed the "Giant of Provence", or "The Bald Mountain". It has gained fame through its use in the Tour de France cycling race. The road is often closed due to high winds, especially the Col de Tempêtes ("storm pass") just before the summit is known for its strong winds. It can be extremely windy at the summit, especially with the mistral; wind speeds as high as 320 km/h (200 mph) have been recorded. The wind blows at 90+ km/h (56+ mph) 240 days a year.  It’s on all the “top rides” lists. Some say the name Ventoux comes from "venteux", the French for "windy", and reflects the mountain's exposure to the fierce north-west Mistral wind.

Can you drive up Mont Ventoux?

The pass is traversed by the D974 road. The surface of the road to the summit is paved. The top of the mountain is bare limestone without vegetation or trees, which makes the mountain's barren peak appear from a distance to be snow-capped all year round (its snow cover actually lasts from December to April). Don’t forget your camera!  Its isolated position overlooking the valley of the Rhône ensures that it dominates the entire region and can be seen from many miles away on a clear day. The view from the top is correspondingly superb.

Is Mont Ventoux dangerous?

The road leading to the peak of Mt. Ventoux was opened in 1900. The climb can often be hard due to windy conditions and/or heat. One is very exposed to the elements at higher altitude on this mountain. It’s one of the hardest and most epic climbs you can ride on two wheels. The road is usually crowded with thousands of bicycles. Near the peak, because of this, there are traffic jams and all possibilities to park your vehicle near the peak are blocked. This peak is really crowded.

Is Mont Ventoux open?

The wind is usually quite strong at mountain areas. High winds blow here all year long. Even in summer you can confront with snowy days. Temperatures here in the winter are brutally cold. The D974 road from Sault to the top of Mont Ventoux is 26 km: 20 km to the Chalet Reynard ski station and the 6 km to the peak. The first few km are across rolling fields of lavender, although tall yellow-black poles mark the road for winter snows. After the lavender fields, the road winds through forests of pine, oak, larch and beech, with picnic tables sitting amongst the trees here and there off the side of the road. The road is usually impassable from November to April. In summers snow can be present at the summit. 

Who died on Mont Ventoux?

The experience of using this road is very impressive. After the Chalet Reynard ski station, the road is a bit steeper, winding up the open, treeless slopes; the more sensitive parts of this last 6 km are protected with guardrails. The entire road is 2-cars wide and well paved. Mont Ventoux has become legendary as the scene of one of the most gruelling climbs in the Tour de France bicycle race, which has ascended the mountain fourteen times since 1951. It’s notorious for claiming the life of English cyclist Tom Simpson who collapsed of exhuastion and died during the 1967 Tour, aged 29. Official cause of death was heat exhaustion.

How long does it take to climb Mont Ventoux?

There are 4 routes to climb the summit. Starting from Bédoin, the ascent is 21.4 km long. Over this distance, the elevation gain is 1.639 meters. The average percentage is 7.6 %. Starting from Malaucene, the ascent is 21.2 km long. Over this distance, the elevation gain is 1.535 meters. The average percentage is 7.2 %. Starting from Sault, the ascent is 25.7 km long. Over this distance, the elevation gain is 1.152 meters. The average percentage is 4.5 %. And starting from Bédoin, the ascent is 19.83 km long. Over this distance, the elevation gain is 1.559 meters. The average percentage is 7.8 %. If you’re only riding Mont Ventoux once, make it Bédoin to Ventoux. It’s the route the Tour has taken several times, the one Tom Simpson died on, the iconic climb that everyone will assume you’re doing if you tell them you’re cycling Mont Ventoux. Starting from Bédoin, a commune in the Vaucluse department in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region, the ascent is 21.4km long. By car, allow 29 minutes without stops.


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