Bike Touring in France: Luberon Region

During a cold winter day, Chelsea read a travel article that would become the inspiration for our next adventure. After months of research and planning, Chelsea and I had finally established a bike touring route in the beautiful Luberon region of Southern France. We mapped out a route for 5 days of biking anywhere between 30-50 miles a day, leaving plenty of time to take pictures, sample the local wine, and eat every pastry we saw along the way.

Our bike route through the Luberon region.

Our bike route through the Luberon region.

Day 1: Cavaillon to Louris

The first day we picked up our bikes from a local bike shop, Cyclix in Cavaillon, France and our inexperience with bike touring became obvious the first hill we hit. With our panniers stuffed full of extra clothing and deadweight, our bikes weighed in at about 65lbs., which we were reminded of with every pedal stroke we took.

View from St. Jacques Hill in Cavaillon, France.

View from St. Jacques Hill in Cavaillon, France.

Mountain biking in Cavaillon, France.

Mountain biking in Cavaillon, France.

Chelsea and her bike for the next 5 days.

Chelsea and her bike for the next 5 days.

Chelsea on her way to Louris through the poppy fields.

Chelsea on her way to Louris through the poppy fields.

Wheat fields full of red poppies and a baguette, ready to ride!

Wheat fields full of red poppies and a baguette, ready to ride!

Upon leaving the city of Cavaillon we were immediately taken aback by the beauty of the french countryside. Fields of wheat and red poppies lined the roads as we made our way to our first accommodations in Louris. We arrived in Louris around 3:30 and dropped our panniers off at our AirBnB. We continued our ride to Lourmarin, a picturesque town surrounded by vineyards, cherry tree farms, and quaint shops. We spent the afternoon wandering around the old stucco buildings with colorful shutters and had dinner before biking back to Louris right before sunset. We got back to Louris and rode through the quiet streets before watching the sunset from a garden on the edge of town. Day 1: 34 miles.

Chelsea explores the town of Lourmarin.

Chelsea explores the town of Lourmarin.

Louris, France.

Louris, France.

Biking through Louris.

Biking through Louris.

Biking out of Lourmarin.

Biking out of Lourmarin.

Lourmarin, France.

Lourmarin, France.

Day 2: Louris to Manosque

Day 2 started with an early wake up to make the most of the day and knowing that we had more distance to cover than the last. We rode our bikes through town, back through Lourmarin and stopped in the town of Cucuron for espresso and to relax by a massive pool of spring-fed water in the center of town.

Cucuron, France - 2 km from Lourmarin. 

Cucuron, France - 2 km from Lourmarin. 

Cucuron and its spring-fed pool in the center of town.

Cucuron and its spring-fed pool in the center of town.

Chelsea at a cafe in Cucuron.

Chelsea at a cafe in Cucuron.

Bike fuel.

Bike fuel.

Most of our route was marked with these blue signs.

Most of our route was marked with these blue signs.

From Cucuron we biked to the small town of St. Martin De La Brasque, had lunch and started our 6 mile climb up to Vitrolles-en Luberon a small mountain village overlooking the Luberon valley. 

Vineyards cover the Luberon Valley as we bike towards Vitrolles-en Luberon. 

Vineyards cover the Luberon Valley as we bike towards Vitrolles-en Luberon. 

Village of Vitrolles-en Luberon.

Village of Vitrolles-en Luberon.

Chelsea, packing for the ride ahead.

Chelsea, packing for the ride ahead.

Well deserved lunch.

Well deserved lunch.

Biking through the village of Vitrolles-en Luberon.

Biking through the village of Vitrolles-en Luberon.

After lunch it was a long ride down to the valley and to our destination for the night, Manosque. Day 2: 41 miles

Town of Manosque.

Town of Manosque.

Our AirBnB for the night. 

Our AirBnB for the night. 

Day 3: Manosque to Sault

We woke up at sunrise to get a jump on the day knowing we had almost 48 miles of endless climbing ahead of us. The crisp morning air quickly burned off and the heat of the day hit us. 10 degrees hotter than normal in May, 90 degrees had us looking for every shady spot on the road. We climbed through towns until lunch.

Chelsea rides over a bridge heading to Cereste, France.

Chelsea rides over a bridge heading to Cereste, France.

Reillanne, France.

Reillanne, France.

Red poppies line the wheat fields.

Red poppies line the wheat fields.

Viens, France. We made it to the top!

Viens, France. We made it to the top!

Viens, France sits at the top of a mountain that seemed like we would never get to the top of. Forging ahead we finally made it to the town and a cherry tree greeted us up at the top. We devoured cherries and a lunch of pizza and espresso.   

Fuel for the climbs.

Fuel for the climbs.

Hikers climb the hill of Viens.

Hikers climb the hill of Viens.

Biking through Simiane-De-Rotonde.

Biking through Simiane-De-Rotonde.

From Viens we climbed our way through some more villages, trying to ignore the pain and take in the stunning views of the Luberon valley. Our last climb for the day was from the town of St. Christol and the top was lavender fields as far as the eye could see. The scene was beautiful and the road to our destination was in sight, and all downhill! We descended for 6 miles straight before a light climb to our destination in Sault, France. Day 3: 48 miles

Lavender Fields!

Lavender Fields!

The excitement of reaching the top before our 6 mile decent!

The excitement of reaching the top before our 6 mile decent!

Lavender fields.

Lavender fields.

The road to Sault.

The road to Sault.

Chelsea descends into the town of Sault.

Chelsea descends into the town of Sault.

Bridge to Sault, France.

Bridge to Sault, France.

Day 4: Sault to Gargas

Our AirBnB in Sault was a restored farmhouse from the 1600's. The owners spent the last 10 years restoring it and we were fortunate enough to be the first guests! It was an amazing space to relax for the evening before getting back on the bikes. La Charmille

La Charmille living room.

La Charmille living room.

AirBnB hosts, Fabienne and Jean-Daniel admiring their work.

AirBnB hosts, Fabienne and Jean-Daniel admiring their work.

Fabienne and Jean-Daniel.

Fabienne and Jean-Daniel.

Our bedroom

Our bedroom

Wonderful morning light at the La Charmille.

Wonderful morning light at the La Charmille.

Built in 1679.

Built in 1679.

After our slow start to the day we finally got back in the saddle and started our ride with 9 miles of climbing (it never ends!) followed by 13 miles of glorious downhill switchbacks through vineyards and lavender fields. 

Chelsea loving the 13 miles of switchbacks!

Chelsea loving the 13 miles of switchbacks!

We biked to Roussillon a town known for having one of the largest ochre deposits in the world. The entire town is a deep orange color that pops off the blue skies. A long lunch, ice cream, and some shopping was a perfect break from riding before heading to our AirBnB in Gargas where we spent the afternoon relaxing by a pool. Day 4: 28 miles

Farm near Roussillon, France.

Farm near Roussillon, France.

Roussillon, France.

Roussillon, France.

Amazing colors.

Amazing colors.

Ochre and poppies.

Ochre and poppies.

Looking over the Luberon Valley.

Looking over the Luberon Valley.

Day 5: Gargas to Cavaillon

Our final day biking started before sunrise so we would be back to Cavaillon in time to catch a train at 3 pm. We rode through a bunch of small towns taking in as much as we could before having to part ways with our bikes. We made it into Cavaillon around 1:30 giving us enough time watch a parade go through town and grab some lunch before heading off to the coast for some much needed relaxation.  Day 5: 31 miles

Vineyards line the roads as we forge ahead. 

Vineyards line the roads as we forge ahead. 

View of Lacoste, France.

View of Lacoste, France.

Stone archway in Lacoste, France.

Stone archway in Lacoste, France.

Descending from Commune De Oppede, France.

Descending from Commune De Oppede, France.

Fort wall of Lacoste.

Fort wall of Lacoste.

Commune De Oppede, France.

Commune De Oppede, France.

Our last stop, Taillades, France!

Our last stop, Taillades, France!

Total Miles Biked: 182

Our first bike tour was a success and left us with a huge sense of accomplishment (and less guilt of how many pastries we ate). The slower pace of loaded bikes and roads less traveled accentuated the beauty of the Luberon region. A unique way to see a country, bike touring has officially been added to our list for future vacations!