© Domaine du Clos des Cazaux
This 35km loop takes you through the famous vineyards of the Côtes du Rhône, as well as past strawberry fields, olive groves and fruit orchards. It is a wonderfully scenic ride with the opportunity to do some tasting along the way!
We start our tour from the village of Sarrians, a small market town just 8km north of Carpentras. Setting off from the tourist office we cycle north along Boulevard Albin Durand in the direction of Bédarrides. Take the first left onto Avenue Jean Giono and turn left again after La Poste onto Boulevard Frederic Mistral. At the end of this road turn right onto the D52 and leave the village of Sarrians behind, continuing along a peaceful country road.
After a few kilometres you take a right turn onto a small road called Route de la Tapiole, at the end of this road you’ll come to a green cycle sign pointing right, follow it along Route de Saint Laurent. Just as you’re about to re-enter Sarrians, look out for another green cycle sign, this time pointing left. Take a sharp turn onto Route de la Bésarde and continue, crossing a small junction along the way. When you come to a fork in the road turn left along Route Saint Privas Verclos. After a long stretch lined with plane trees, turn right and cycle alongside the Ouvèze river, keeping the water on your left. Look out for Chemin des Grones and make a right turn, after a while you need to make a left turn onto Champ Verdun (also, confusingly, signposted as Route de Peycard). This brings you to a junction, where you cross the D950 and take the first exit off the roundabout and then turn right to reach Vacqueyras via the Plateau des Garrigues, following the green cycle signs. The only tricky bit is a bit of a higgledy-piggledy junction - take a sharp left and follow the Route de la Garrigue north. At the end of this road turn right onto the Route du Couroulu, continue straight on across a small crossroads until you reach the end of the road then turn left onto the Ancienne Route de Vacqueyras which takes you, unsurprisingly, all the way to Vacqueyras through established vineyards and sunbleached old farmhouses.
In Vacqueyras, take a right and cycle downhill towards the town centre. Vacqueyras is a lovely old town, with shady tree lined streets and sunny little squares dotted with pavement cafes and bistros. There are, of course, plenty of opportunities to sample the local wines. Once you’ve had a look round Vacqueyras, head south out of town on the D7 following signposts for Beaumes-de-Venice.
Beaumes-de-Venise sits at the foot of the Dentelles de Montmirail mountain range and produces two types of wine - a sweet fortified wine called Muscat de Beaumes de Venise and a red Côtes du Rhône Villages - that can both be found in the many wine caves along Avenue Raspail and in the town centre. The village itself is very pretty and worth a wander round for its old stone houses, ancient churches and architecture spanning many centuries. If you have the time, there are a number of nice walks in the area and you can explore the prehistoric caves of Ambrosi and Rocalinaud.
To continue our route, we head south out of the village towards Aubignan along the D90. Aubignan is a small market town surrounded by 14th century ramparts. The outskirts of the village aren’t particularly inspiring but the centre is quite charming and the old quarter has some wonderful old relics from the past.
Follow Avenue Frederic Mistral through the centre of Aubignan, passing the tourist office on your left. Turn right onto the D55 (Avenue Jean-Henri Fabre) when you see the sign for Sarrians. Continue past the vineyards until you come to a left hand turn marked by a green cycle sign, turn here onto the Ancienne Chemin de Sarrians, turning left at the end to rejoin the D55 which will take you all the way back to where we started.
This 35km bike ride is mostly flat, with a steady climb of around 60m spread over the first 20km up to Vacqueyras. The remaining 15km are undulating, but gently and not too challenging. The scenery is absolutely beautiful and the colours change dramatically depending on the time of year. The majority of the route is on quiet country roads, surrounded by vineyards and orchards with views of Mont Ventoux and the Dentelles of Montmirail.
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