Vallée de Toulourenc
Gorges of the Nesque
Start your engines on the beautiful road between Vaison-la-Romaine and Entrechaux. It has all the ingredients for a splendid day on your motorcycle: a smooth surface, the sun, the scents of the countryside in the morning. Similarly, its wooden safety rails are kitted out with sill plates in the bends, avoiding the guillotine effect in the event of a spill. It’s all good! There is a little navigating trap as you leave Entrechaux. Therefore, stay vigilant and follow the direction for La Vallée du Toulourenc. The crossroads between the RD 13 and RD 40 suddenly emerges at a right angle after a bend, and the village of Saint-Léger-du-Ventoux is not signposted. As a result, that could come as a surprise, so slow down as you approach the sign Vallée du Toulourenc à droite.
On the right, dive towards the Toulourenc by taking the winding, bewitching RD 40. The stretch of tarmac snakes between the rocky slopes of this valley, which is rich in Provençal vegetation. As a result, holidaying bikers will enjoy stopping at the creek’s bed. Or even soaking their feet in the clear water. Likewise, you can also stop in the stone-built hamlets which are scattered along the route. The most attractive buildings are in Savoillan, across the other side of the river. When the season starts in April or May, you can certainly savour the strong scent of lavender, which is grown everywhere in this region. The scented shrub abundantly adorns the landscape with immense mauve patches.
At the extreme east of the Ventoux, you can detour through the spa town of Montbrun-les-Bains. Then make your way towards Aurel. But, when you arrive on the RD 542, stay on guard because the road is covered with gravel, spread by the Departmental Road Maintenance Service at the end of winter to repair the roadway. This gravel-packing can be a problem for a few months, until the passage of vehicles forces the stones into the road surface. As a result, the danger is indicated by temporary signs so approach the section between Aurel and Sault with caution. Sault is an ideal stop at the halfway point. Above all, its central square offers a breathtaking panorama on the Ventoux. You can find a terrace for a cool drink or something to eat.
Now it’s time to take on the Gorges de la Nesque, a long and intoxicating road on the mountain side. It can also be tricky because there are a lot of cyclists on the road, almost as many as on Mont Ventoux. So be careful about the speed difference. Other obstacles are the narrow tunnels which allow only for the width of one car at a time. In contrast, the road is prohibited to trucks and caravans. But the right of way is always for those going up and we are going down. So dawdle across the gorges, inhaling the aroma of thyme and admiring the forest of holm oaks. A relaxed biker will be reluctant to leave the Nesque since the RD 942 turns into a pleasant link road as far as Carpentras. Finally, the route ends after Beaumes-de-Venise and the traditional tour of the wineries. Here you’ll find excellent vintages of Côtes-du-Rhône, to drink when the bike is safely in its garage!