Day Trip 5 - Up the Mountain: Sault - Mount Ventoux - Bedoin - Crillon-le-Brave
Sault is known for its lavender fields at the right time of year but the window between full purple splendour and harvest is not great so you have to get the timing right. We are normally a little early and only get a hint of what is to come. Get to Sault by picking a route that skirts Gordes, Joucas and Lioux. After Lioux it is a strangely remote feeling road with lots of wooded areas and little traffic.
Sault is one of the access villages for the Mont Ventoux. This is an excerpt from the book I am writing:
“Le Mont Ventoux is an odd mountain. It is like an alp without any brother or sister alps. It has some foothills like the nearby Dentelles de Montmirail but its 1,912 metre bulk dominates the geography of a huge area of our Vaucluse département and the neighbouring Drôme. It’s a well-known mountain though, with the name tripping easily off the tongues of Tour de France fans around the world. It is one of the classic climbs of the road cycling world and would be on the bucket list of thousands of amateur riders in France and beyond.
Its somewhat rounded peak is covered in white limestone boulders in an eerie treeless landscape that looks more lunar than earthly. From a distance, the stone gives the Ventoux the appearance of being snow covered all year round even though the actual snow only persists from December to April.
From ‘our’ part of the Vaucluse around the Isle and the areas of the Lubéron we mainly frequent, the Ventoux sits to the north and on clear days is a constant landmark. It seems to have some sort of marker post on its summit and it does – it’s just that the ‘post’ is a multistory communications building and mast rising 50m or so from ground level. It’s visible from so far away it’s just hard to get the scale right in your head.”
We recommend a weekday trip because of those cyclists and a fine, warm day wouldn’t go astray. It’s going to be colder and windier on the summit. On a clear day it really is spectacular though and highly recommended. Descend on the alternative route to Bédoin which nestles to the south-west of the mountain. Bédoin has a classic, curving ,plane tree lined main street with plenty of opportunities for a coffee, icecream or snack.
Two kilometres to the west is Crillon-le-Brave. This is the site of an interesting hotel where a cluster of village houses have been restored and adapted to form the hotel without spoiling the essence of a tiny Provençal village. It is possible to take luncheon on the terrace of the hotel even though you are not resident. On weekdays this is a taste of classy cooking and service with outrageous views of the mountain at a price approachable by the peasants. On the day we tried this out we did have to dodge around the gleaming late-model Ferrari and yellow Lambo carelessly abandoned near the front entrance.
For the more direct route home look for the Mazan to Pernes-les-Fontaines road but if you had time a detour to Venasque and St Didier would be possible to complete what amounts to a complete circumnavigation of the Plâteau de Vaucluse on this trip.