The Mont Ventoux is a 1910-m high conical peak that's visible from far across the surrounding countryside. With its altitude and the cooling Mistral from the north, it's often snow-capped in April, while the cherry orchards below are in blossom and the fields are turning green (photo, past the village of Crillon-le-Brave).
The Mont Ventoux is only the highest part of a mountain range running from the village of Montbrun-les-Bains in the east to Malaucène in the west.
Further to the west, the range raises up again as the Dentelles de Montmirail.
The view from the top is truly magnificent, especially if a Mistral has cleared the air. From the northeastern lookout alone you can see most of the Alps, including the Vercors, Chaine de Belledonne, Mont Blanc, the Ecrins, the Queyras and the Mercantour. If you are going to the top of Mont Ventoux during a Mistral, or any time other than the middle of summer, a good windbreaker and gloves will be appreciated.
The Drive Up
The D164 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 [photo 3], with picnic tables sitting amongst the trees here and there off the side of the road. After the Chalet Reynard ski station, the road is a bit steeper, winding up the open, treeless slopes [photo 2]; the more sensitive parts of this last 6 km are protected with guardrails. The entire road is 2-cars wide and well paved.
Cycling Tour de France
On the route of the 2009 Tour de France, stage 20 finish, Montélimar to Mont Ventoux.
IGN (1/25,000) #3140 ET "Mont Ventoux"
• The Ventoux mountains are a hiker's paradise. Trails run in all directions, following ridges and valleys and crossing through innumerable forests. The views from near the top are fantastic, and the scenic beauty of the region is outstanding.
• The GR4 (Grande Randonnée) trail traverses the most of the length of the ridge, then crosses the northern slopes along the western end, towards Malaucène. The last 4 km up the ridge is barren and exposed, and the trail is marked by long rows of tall red and blue poles. Towards the eastern end of the ridge, the GR4 drops south to go down through the forests to Sault.
• The GR9 and its variations (GR91A and B) go across both the northern slopes and the southern slopes of the mountains, and branch out past the mountains to connect with the surrounding villages: Buis-les-Baronnies (north), Bédoin and Malaucéne (west), Villes-sur-Auzon and the Gorges de la Nesque (south) and Sault (east).