© Google Maps
© Panoramio / Jeanne Marie
This ride takes us along the banks of the river Sorgue, crossing picturesque bridges and cycling past tranquil orchards. You’ll visit a number of fascinating little villages and take in some wonderful scenery along the way.
Our ride starts in Isle-Sur-La-Sorgue, otherwise known as “the Venice of Provence” due to its many charming canals and waterways. Setting off from the Cours du Portalet, we turn right onto Avenue Fabre de Sérignan and continue to a roundabout, where we take the second exit and cross over the bridge on Avenue General de Gaulle.
At the following two roundabouts go straight ahead in the direction of Les Névons, following the green cycle route signs. You’ll come out of the main town and pass through a residential area along Cours René Char. When you reach the next roundabout take the second exit onto Chemin de Palerme, again keeping an eye out for those green cycling signs. You’ll follow a rural road with olive groves and farmers fields to either side until you reach Chemin de Velorgues à Sorguette on your left, it’s a hairpin bend that doubles back on itself. Take the first proper road on your right (ignoring dirt paths and driveways) onto Chemin de Margoye, a quiet country road with pastoral views.
At one point the road splits in two, follow the green cycle sign and take the left fork, carry on until you reach a stop sign and when it is safe to go continue straight ahead onto Chemin de la Lône. From here we can see the perched village of Saumane de Vaucluse and the peaks of the Vaucluse mountain range.
Turn right onto the D99 and cycle until you come to a small crossroads, where you turn left onto Chemin de Mousquety. Just before you reach the end of this road, turn left onto a little path called Chemin de la Coutelière and carry on until you come out onto the D24. You can follow this road all the way to Fontaine-de-Vaucluse, passing under the big aqueduct that spans the road.
After a few more kilometres you will arrive in the village of Fontaine-de-Vaucluse; a pretty little village with a ruined 14th century castle and lots of old buildings. There are many nice cafes where you can stop for a break beside the emerald green waters of the river. The source of the river is a “hidden” spring that gushes up from beneath the surface of the water, it is the largest natural spring in France and 5th largest in the world.
The road into Fontaine-de-Vaucluse becomes smaller as you enter the village, soon you will see the tourist office on your left and the river running beside you on your right. Cross the bridge ahead of you and at the small roundabout take the last exit onto Avenue Robert Garcin, which turns into to D25 leading out of the village. There are plenty of charming little cafes here if you want to grab a coffee or have a leisurely lunch by the water.
When you’re ready to leave, follow the D25 back under the aqueduct and along a pleasant country road with open fields to either side. When you reach the junction, turn right in the direction of Saumane, again following the green cycle signs. At the end of the road turn right towards Saumane and follow the D57 for about 2km.
The approach to the village is uphill with a few twists and turns in the road. It may seem like hard work but you’ll be coming back this way and the views are worth the effort! Look out for the sharp right turn that takes you up to Saumane and the chateau, both of which are signposted. This perched medieval village is a great spot to stop for a breather and to admire the panoramic views of the Luberon and Alpilles. If you’ve got the energy, the 12th century fortress at the top of the village is worth a visit; once home to the Marquis de Sade it is now private property and not open to the public but you can still walk around it.
You can now enjoy a freewheeling descent back down the way you came; there are numerous little roads in the village that lead back to the main road out. If you can make your way up past the Mairie and then make a hairpin turn to come back along Chemin du Barry you’ll find a particularly beautiful route with old walls on your right and drop-away scenery to your left. This will bring you back on to the D57, cruising downhill all the way.
The D57 turns into the D175, also called the Route de Saumane. When you get to the end of it you turn right and carry on to the roundabout where you turn left towards the “centre ville”. Just after the bridge is another roundabout where you take the small exit in front of a large Super U market. Look out for the green cycle signs and directions for “Partage des Eaux”, turn left at the mini-roundabout onto Chemin des Espelugues head away from the busy roads towards fields of corn and picturesque farmhouses. When you come to the end of this road turn left onto Avenue Voltaire Garcin and cycle through a quiet residential area until you come to the waterfront at Partage des Eaux. There are a few bustling little cafes here and some nice picnic spots alongside the river, it’s a really pretty spot and very popular.
When you get past the grassy area, turn left past the car park and follow the green cycle signs along the Avenue du Partage des Eaux; a quiet riverside path that gets you to Isle-Sur-La-Sorgue without having to go through traffic. Follow the river and you’ll soon find yourself back in the familiar surroundings of Isle-Sur-La-Sorgue. Cross straight over at the roundabout and follow Avenue Fabre de Sérignan until you’re back where we started at the Cours du Portalet.
This 20km circular cycle route takes you through some of the most beautiful parts of the area, without being too demanding. The ride should only take about 2 hours but there are so many lovely places to stop that you can easily make a half day out of it.
Find where to hire a bike in Provence.