Mont Ventoux

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Mont Ventoux
Mont Ventoux in the evening sun (from the southwest)

Mont Ventoux in the evening sun (from the southwest)

height 1909  m
location Vaucluse department , France
Mountains Provencal pre-Alps
Dominance 61.3 km →  Toussière
Notch height 1150 m ↓  at Aurel to Blayeul
Coordinates 44 ° 10 '26 "  N , 5 ° 16' 38"  E Coordinates: 44 ° 10 '26 "  N , 5 ° 16' 38"  E
Mont Ventoux (Vaucluse)
Mont Ventoux
rock limestone
Age of the rock Lower Cretaceous
Overview map of Mont Ventoux

The Mont Ventoux is a dominant , 1909  m high mountain in the French Provence (1912 m according to older information, see photo with official sign). The Celts probably revered it as a sacred mountain. The Ventoux became popular beyond the region after it was climbed and described by Francesco Petrarca in 1336. Today it is accessible via a mountain road that is of great importance for cycling . The Mont Ventoux is nicknamed Géant de Provence (Giant of Provence).

Location and topography

The Mont Ventoux is a mountain range stretching in a west-east direction about 45 km northeast of Avignon and almost 100 km north of Marseille . The length of the slightly S-shaped mountain ridge is about 23 km. The mountain is located in the Provencal Prealps , but it is also occasionally assigned to the Dauphiné Alps . Together with the Montagne d'Albion and the Montagne de Lure, it forms the northernmost and topographically highest part of a limestone plateau, that of the Rhone valley to the west , the Durance valley to the south and east and the valleys of the two small rivers Toulourenc to the north and Jabron is limited. Compared to the relatively gently rising south side of the mountain, the northwest flank and especially the northeast flank are significantly steeper. There are also rock faces and craggy terrain .

Administratively, the mountain belongs to the Vaucluse department . Places in the area are Malaucène about 10 kilometers west and Sault about 15 kilometers southeast of the summit.

The summit is one of the few places from which, in very good weather, you can see the Mediterranean Sea and the highest peaks of the Alps and the Pyrenees at the same time . Today there are among other things an observatory and various transmission systems.


Geologically, the Mont Ventoux belongs to the so-called subalpine chains , a belt of folds which, like the Jura Mountains further north, is immediately in front of the arch of the Western Alps . However, since they are not particularly distinct morphologically from the Alpine arc, the subalpine chains, in contrast to the Jura, are geographically still counted among the Alps.

The mountain is mainly made up of limestones from the Lower Cretaceous ( Hauterivium to Lower Aptium ). While on the steep northern flank largely marly limestones of Barremian queue , there is a south flank primarily from limestone of Barremian and lower sub-Apt ( Bedoulium formed in so-called Urgon facies). These are fossil-rich, reef - calcareous rocks that are characterized by rudist clams .

The painting of the ridges, not only of the Ventoux, in a west-east direction corresponds to the painting of important geological structural elements in the region. This tectonic structure comes from the Pyrenees phase of the Alpid orogeny and was subsequently partially overprinted by the tectonics emanating from the Alps.

Due to the predominance of carbonate rocks in the subsurface, the region is strongly characterized by karstification , so that there is hardly any superficial runoff.

Climate and vegetation

On its slopes, the Ventoux unites all European climatic and vegetation zones from the Mediterranean to Lapland . It can snow on the Ventoux until May. All year round, however, you have to reckon with a strong and especially in summer very cold wind, the mistral .

The immense chalk gravel field directly below the summit was only exposed when the mountain was cleared. As elsewhere in Provence, the formerly lush tree population had been cleared to build the sea fleets of the Ancien Régime , but also for firewood and charcoal production. The slopes of the Ventoux, which was still referred to as the "naked" or "shaved" mountain in the times of Jean-Henri Fabre , have now been reforested. Individual representatives of the original vegetation are intensively cared for and can be admired , for example, on a walk along the GR 9 hiking trail on the north side. Another specialty are the truffles that grow here . In 1990, UNESCO declared Mont Ventoux a biosphere reserve in order to ensure the survival of plant diversity in the long term.

At the foot of the mountain is the Côtes du Ventoux wine-growing region .


The name of the mountain is probably derived from "Mons Ventosus" (Latin for "windy mountain"). Because of its cleared, bare flanks, it was also called Mont Pelé (peeled mountain). The latest research is based on common names preceded by the root "* Vin-". It can be found in Provence and its environs in the names of the localities Venasque , Venterol (Alpes-de-Haute-Provence) , Venterol (Drôme) , Vence , Ventabren , Ventavon or on Corsica in Venaco and Ventiseri . It also appears in Piedmont , where there is a Venasca , as well as in the Pyrenees with Port de Venasque and Benasque . This pre-Latin root always appears in connection with an elevation or with a place on a hill and, in the case of the Ventoux, is combined with the suffix "-tur", which implies a distance, a distance. The Ventoux would therefore roughly mean “The mountain that is visible from afar”.

The imposing shape of the mountain, which appears conical from many perspectives, is visible from afar and has given it special importance in the eyes of many locals and visitors. Along with the Massif de la Sainte-Baume and Montagne Sainte-Victoire, it is one of the "Three Holy Mountains of Provence" . Already by the Celts it was presumably revered as the seat of a wind deity, among other things artefacts such as small sound trumpets testify to the cult. Presumably the mountain was climbed very early.

In a letter dated April 26, 1336, written in Latin and addressed to the early humanist Dionigi di Borgo San Sepolcro , the poet Francesco Petrarca tells how he climbed Mont Ventoux with his brother. The description of this ascent has long been considered an expression of a new experience of nature and landscape, in which aesthetic and contemplative perspectives are combined. For this reason, the ascent of Mont Ventoux is now considered by some researchers to be the key moment on the threshold from the Middle Ages to the modern era. The description of this ascent in this reading, founded by Jacob Burckhardt in 1860, would also be seen as the birth of alpinism , since mountaineering would be presented here for the first time as an end in itself:

"I climbed the highest mountain in this area, which is not undeservedly called Ventosus, the rush of wind, I climbed today, driven solely by the desire to see this unusual high-altitude region with my own eyes."

The poet prince of Provence, Frédéric Mistral , also climbed Mont Ventoux, and the French polymath Jean-Henri Fabre used the mountain as a biological open-air laboratory practically on his doorstep.

On January 6, 1947, an Amiot AAC.1 airliner (copy of Junkers Ju 52 / 3m) operated by Transports Aériens Intercontinentaux (TAI) ( aircraft registration F-BBYK ) deviated from course due to strongly changed wind conditions and flew at an altitude of 1,800 meters into a snow-covered flank of Mont Ventoux and was destroyed. The three-man crew of the cargo flight from Marseille to Lyon survived.


The "Giant of Provence" (Géant de Provence) is a popular destination for car and motorcycle tourists who reach the summit from Malaucène , Sault or Bédoin . At the same time, the mountain is also a special attraction for cyclists, for whom a separate lane is almost always marked uphill. There are also numbered milestones or signs along each driveway that provide information about the average gradient, the remaining distance to the summit and the current altitude. As a cyclist, you will be photographed by photographers - further up and with the summit in the background - so that you can purchase your picture on the Internet the next day.

There are still many opportunities for hikers to explore Mont Ventoux off the tourist road. Two of the long-distance hiking trails typical of France ( sentiers de grande randonnée ), the GR 9 and the GR 4 , cross at the "Balcon Nord" of Mont Ventoux.



Mont Ventoux
View to the east of the Col des Tempêtes and the ascent of Bédoin and Sault.

View to the east of the Col des Tempêtes and the ascent of Bédoin and Sault.

Compass direction northwest southwest
Pass height 1909  m
Department Vaucluse department , France
Valley locations Malaucène Bédoin or Saint-Estève
Winter closure November 1st - May 15th
Mountains French Alps
Mountain scoring HC HC
Ø pitch 7.2% (1535 m / 21.3 km) 8.8% (1376 m / 15.7 km)
Max. Incline 11% 13.9%
Profile Ventoux.png
Coordinates 44 ° 10 ′ 26 "  N , 5 ° 16 ′ 38"  E

Mountain arrival at the Tour de France 2002 (Sprinterfeld, Gruppetto)

The Mont Ventoux can be reached from three sides. The hardest of the climbs from Bédoin in the southwest overcomes more than 1,600 meters in altitude over around 21 km with an average gradient of 7.6 percent. In the Tour de France, this ascent of the highest category begins about 6 km later at Saint-Estève (536 m above sea level). The remaining 1,376 meters in altitude to the top are overcome by the road over a length of 15.7 km with an average gradient of 8.8 percent and a maximum gradient of 13.9 percent. (For comparison: the ascent to L'Alpe d'Huez has a mean gradient of 7.9 percent over a length of 13.8 km.) At the Chalet Reynard restaurant at 1405 m above sea level, the two routes from Bédoin and Sault unite. The "Col des Tempêtes" (Pass of the Storms), where the road runs along the ridge, is famous . The east side from Sault is the easiest (26 km / 1150 vertical meters / 4.5% / 1st category).

In 1951, Mont Ventoux was on the route map for the first time in the Tour de France . Although the tour only led over the Ventoux 15 times, it has become one of its most legendary peaks. Together with the Col du Galibier , the Col du Tourmalet and the ascent to L'Alpe d'Huez, it is one of the “holy mountains” of the Tour of France and is part of the so-called “Hors Catégorie” together with these and other very difficult climbs. guided. Apart from the enormous incline, the Ventoux is mainly feared by cyclists because of its bare hilltop, where they can be exposed to the summer sun and strong winds without protection. While the mountain was tackled from Malaucène on the north side during the first ascent , all other Tour de France stages were led over the Mont Ventoux from the direction of Bédoin, on the south-west side.

Hobby cyclists at the Tom Simpson memorial stone.

In 1967 the Mont Ventoux became famous: on July 13th, the English cyclist Tom Simpson collapsed exhausted one and a half kilometers before the summit and died at the scene of the accident. It turned out that Simpson, a strong classic driver , had consumed a high dose of amphetamines and probably alcohol .

Three years later, in 1970, Eddy Merckx won the Ventoux stage on the way to his second Tour victory, but had so exhausted himself on the climb that he suffered a faint attack after the finish and had to be given oxygen .

The Tour de France stage winners on Mont Ventoux:

Leaders in crossings:

In women's cycling , Mont Ventoux was the first destination on September 3, 2016. The third stage of the Tour Cycliste Féminin International de l'Ardèche (TCFIA) ended at its summit. The journey led over the southern route via Bédoin. The winner of the stage was the Austrian Anna Kiesenhofer .


Louis Inghilbert at the 1904 Mont Ventoux motorcycle race

The D 974 on the south side of the mountain served as a racing track for many years. On September 12, 1900, three De Dion-Bouton cars drove to the summit in two and a half hours. The first organized race (Concours de côte du mont Ventoux) took place in 1902. The winner drove a Panhard & Levassor and achieved an average speed of 47.5 km / h. In 1957, two Porsches and a Maserati were much faster at around 100 km / h. The speed record was reached in 1976 with 150 km / h. There have been no car races on Mont Ventoux since 1977. A Bugatti model is named after the mountain: Type 57 Ventoux .


  • Kristian Bauer: Roadbook Tour de France . Racing bike guide. Bruckmann, Munich 2006
  • Wolfgang Hillen, Corinne Bart, Friedrich Gier: Provence around the Mont Ventoux . Romanistischer Verlag, Bonn 2010, ISBN 978-3-86143-193-0 .
  • Peter Leisl: The legendary climbs of the Tour de France . Covadonga, Bielefeld 2004, ISBN 3-936973-09-1 .
  • Francesco Petrarca : The ascent of Mont Ventoux. Translated from the Latin by Hans Nachod and Paul Stern (1931). With color photographs by Constantin Beyer and an afterword by Horst Nalewski. Insel, Frankfurt am Main / Leipzig 1996, ISBN 3-458-19163-1 .
  • Flurin of Salis: The Mont Ventoux. Edition Moderne, Zurich 2015, ISBN 978-3-03731-140-0 .

From the French bibliography

  • Aimé Autrand: Le département de Vaucluse de la défaite à la Liberation (may 1940-25 août 1944) . Aubanel, Avignon, 1965 (French)
  • Guy Barruol, Nerte Dautier, Bernard Mondon (coord. And 47 others.): Le mont Ventoux. Encyclopédie d'une montagne provençale. Alpes de Lumières, 2007. (French) ISBN 978-2-906162-92-1 .
  • Serge Laget: Cols mythiques du Tour de France . L'Équipe , 2005 (French, photo book)


  • Mont Ventoux: Fight for the mountain jersey (original title: Le roi du mont Ventoux ). Direction and script: Fons Feyaerts. France, 2013.

Web links

Commons : Mont Ventoux  - Collection of Images, Videos and Audio Files
Wikivoyage: Mont Ventoux  - Travel Guide

Individual evidence

  1. a b c Mont Ventoux on (English)
  2. Mont Ventoux. In: Microsoft Encarta
  3. a b Bernard Blavoux, Jacques Mudry, Jean-Michel Puig: The karst system of the Fontaine de Vaucluse (Southeastern France). Environmental Geology and Water Sciences. Volume 19, No. 3, 1992, pp. 215-225, doi: 10.1007 / BF01704088
  4. a b Karl Gratzl: The Mountain Myth. Lexicon of the important mountains from mythology, cultural history and religion . Hollinek, Purkersdorf 2000, ISBN 3-85119-280-X , p. 266-269 .
  5. ^ Albert Dauzat et Charles Rostaing: Dictionnaire étymologique des noms de lieux en France. Ed. Larousse, 1968, p. 1949.
  6. Guy Barruol, Nerte Dautier, Bernard Mondon (coord.): Le mont Ventoux. Encyclopédie d'une montagne provençale . There the article by Paul Peyre on page 240.
  7. ^ Letter text in German translation on
  8. Francesco Petrarca: The ascent of Mont Ventoux. Insel, Frankfurt am Main / Leipzig 1996.
  9. ^ Helmuth Zebhauser: Early evidence of enthusiasm for the Alps . Munich 1986.
  10. accident report AAC.1 / Ju 52 F-BBYK , Aviation Safety Network (English), accessed on August 17, 2017th
  11. Official profile of the ascent to Mont Ventoux from Bédoin ( Memento of the original of July 14, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link has been inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  12. ^ Profile of the ascent to Mont Ventoux from Bédoin ,
  13. Le dico du tour: Le Mont Ventoux dans le Tour de France (French)
  14. The royal stages of the Tour de France (Les grands cols du Tour de France) 4/5: Mont Ventoux ( Memento des Originals of July 3, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link has been inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. ,, June 27, 2013. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  15. Samedi 3 September 2016, troisième étape du TCFIA 2016. ( Memento of the original from January 2, 2017 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. TCFIA website (French) @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  16. Stefan Brandenburg, Ines Mache: Provence . Bielefeld 1996, ISBN 3-89416-609-6 , p. 191.