Published by Lyn on 2 October 2017
We stayed at the elegant Chateau de Mazan hotel on a recent trip to Provence. It's an ideal base for an assault on the mighty Ventoux.
Chateau de Mazan is a lovely treat; it's ideal for post-Ventoux relaxation or for a special stay at the end of a longer trip. Set in a stately 17th century building, it's been elegantly restored and maintains the echo of its aristocratic past. The chateau was once the home of the Marquis de Sade, who founded France's first ever theatre festival – and the building reflects this artistic history, with posters and art paying homage to its creative past. Today it's run privately by the Lhermie family, who have turned it into a 4-star hotel with 30 bedrooms. Some of the ground floor rooms open out onto the garden, while many of the upstairs rooms have garden and pool views.
5 things we like
1. The vibe.
A hotel like this could go very very wrong when it comes to cyclists. Make no mistake – this is an upmarket hotel but the atmosphere is friendly and unpretentious. The hotel is run by its owners – Frédéric is the director, while his mum is the driving force behind the design and charming decor of the hotel. That means they make the rules, and those rules very much feature an open-door policy towards cyclists. You'll be the norm, rather than the exception if you arrive here smelly and sweaty (cyclists were airing their Lycra from their bedroom windows during our stay and Frédéric was wearing it as a badge of honour). He says most of his guests are here for the Ventoux, and his staff go out of their way to make them feel welcome. There's a pool for post-ride chilling, and it was being enjoyed during our visit by a bunch of Belgian cyclists who were all in bouyant moods having conquered the Ventoux.
2. The location.
There's not a lot more you can say than 'Ventoux'. The hotel is just 10km from the start of the iconic Bedoin climb used in the Tour de France, and the hotel's bike store reflects this well: there were more than a dozen bikes parked inside during our visit. But there are routes here for anyone not up to – or interested in – climbing the Geant of Provence. We skirted around the valley for four days and found plenty of routes for all abilities. The local tourist board has a dedicated cycling and MTB expert who has designed a full range of routes and maps – there are dozens of local cycling maps available online (see here). For non-cycling friends and family, Mazan is within easy reach of numerous wine routes, including the vines of the Cotes du Rhone and Chateauneuf du Pape. The Roman sites at Vaison-la-Romaine and the ancient theatre at Orange are also easy day trips with a car or local taxi.
3. The staff.
Everyone here appears to be well-travelled and multilingual. There's even a Japanese speaker on staff. The hotel's director, Frederic, has worked in hospitality abroad, including in the UK, and is well tuned to the needs of cyclists from the world over.
4. The flexibility.
We work with a number of cycle tour operators who use this hotel as a base for rides around Ventoux. It's possible to stay here both independently or as part of a package with transfers, bike hire and local guiding. You can use our bespoke service to find the right mix for you. If you're riding independently, the hotel works with a local bike hire firm that delivers high-spec carbon bikes to the hotel.
5. The food.
The hotel has a superb restaurant. If you can, budget for a lunch or dinner here to appreciate the fresh local produce and the talents of the impossibly young chef, Yann Foucher, who I was told was only 25. His food was exceptional during our visit. The restaurant is open to the public on reservation, so even if your budget doesn't stretch to staying here, you can still visit the restaurant and enjoy the food in the elegant surrounds. If you do stay here, you can also look forward to a hearty buffet breakfast with enough nutrients to fuel even the toughest day on the roads. Cereals, fruits, yoghurts, eggs, fresh juice, and great coffee are all available.
In all, I loved my stay here. It felt both special and relaxing, and I'd heartily recommend it as a base if you're exploring this region on two wheels.