Published by Lyn on 24 June 2019
I stayed with David and Karen at Accommodation In Provence en route to the Ventoux. It was so nice I didn't want to leave.
David and Karen's wonderful retreat does what it says on the tin: it provides accommodation in Provence. But not just any accommodation and not just anywhere in Provence. This is pristine and flexible accommodation (B&B or self-catering) and it's in a simply magical place for cycling.
5 things we liked
1. The location.
Saint-Saturnin-lès-Apt is village steeped in history in the Luberon valley, its sweeping views the result of its founders building it on a clifftop. The remains of the village's medieval chateau, its ramparts (circa 13th century) and centuries-old windmills add to the character.
This is a beautiful base and – located as it is in the Parc Naturel Régional du Luberon – it's a pretty hard place to beat in terms of cycling. (See No. 4 below).
2. The owners.
David and Karen have thought of everything here, especially for cyclists. There is privacy but also help at hand. Well integrated into the local community, they can help with bike hire, as well as restaurant recommmendations and reservations. And, of course, David has ridden pretty much every road in the area – he is a wealth of information in terms of routes, gradients, and coffee stops.
3. The local restaurant.
It's probably a good thing I don't live here because I would spend a disproportionate amount of my children's inheritance eating this sort of thing at the village restaurant.
At Restaurant L'Estrade (6 Rue Victor Hugo, 84490 Saint-Saturnin-lès-Apt), everything is prepared on site, the menu is full of fresh ingredients and it changes regularly. There is also a lovely selection of local and regional wines to complement the menu.
The duck with berries was a delight, though I'll admit the cheesecake was probably a step too far less than 36 hours from a Ventoux climb. However it was so delicious I felt nothing but smug satisfaction afterwards.
Book ahead in summer and school holidays (David and Karen can do this for you if you are staying with them). Note the restaurant doesn't take cards, but there is a cash machine almost directly opposite.
4. Bike routes.
David took me on a 30km spin along one of his regular routes. We rode out of Saint-Saturnin-lès-Apt along the D943 and onto a circular loop down through a gorges and past vineyards and orchards, the earth changing from desert red on one side of the road to brown and grey shades on the other.
This really is a spectacular area to cycle and we saw only perhaps three or four cars in just over an hour and a half of cycling. Even in the height of summer David says the roads here are relatively quiet compared to the Ventoux loops to the north and north-west, and the tourist trail around L'Sorgue-sur'Isle farther west. Even so, those places are still within easy reach for day rides, as are the stunning Gorges de la Nesque 18 kilometres to the north.
Here is our little loop.
5. The property itself.
David and Karen have set this place up perfectly and can cater for independent cyclists or couples, as well as family groups. They designed and built the villas from scratch but you'd never know it, so effortlessly do they blend into the Provencal landscape.
It's pretty hard to complain about a place when you wake up to these sorts of views every day. It really is an amazing setting.
There are two villas near the main house (Les Cerisiers and Les Oliviers), which both sleep two people. Both open out onto the pool with sweeping views of orchards and hills.
Adjacent is Chambre du Platane, a B&B room for two people. That's where I stayed, enjoying my breakfast on the terrace.
The wifi is fast and free (David told me a story of a guest who had checked out, only to return later for the wifi!), so it's easy to plan routes, check the weather or upload rides to Strava from here.
There is also Le Chêne, a self-catering house on the adjacent property (just 20 or 30 metres away) that is perfect for families and small groups. It's self-contained with its own pool, and sleeps 6 people in three double or twin rooms. There are also cots for babies.
The additional privacy here away from the main house and villas means kids can run free and enjoy the gardens without parents having to worry about disturbing neighbours. It's also dog-friendly.
Would I stay here again? Hell, yes!
Even though I live in an equally beautiful part of France with quiet roads and vineyard routes, I was still just a little bit jealous of David as we rode off on his daily meander.
This is just a lovely, peaceful part of France and such is its remote, isolated, open feel that it's hard to believe one of the most cycled (and most famous) mountains for cycling – the mighty Ventoux – starts rising from the plains just over 20km to the north in Sault.
If you are looking for open, quiet roads within striking distance of the Ventoux, lavender fields, vineyard routes, and historical villages and towns, then this is the base for you.