Win a Weeks Holiday at Serre des Ormes

Whether you are a cyclist, runner or walker don’t miss this great chance to spend a week relaxing and enjoying the sunshine and great outdoors in the spectacular Méouge Valley.

The prize is a 7 night stay for one at Serre Des Ormes with with a discounted rate for partner or friend, sharing the same room. It includes a healthy nutritious breakfast each morning, two course evening meals with aperitif, hors d’oeuvres and wine served on 6 nights of the week and of course tea and home baked cakes each afternoon.

To enter, it couldn’t be more simple, just follow these steps.

1/ Subscribe to our mailing list, if you are not already on it.This can be done through the link at the bottom of our home page.

2/ Like our Facebook Page and our Facebook competition post. 
(If you don’t have a Facebook account please let us know that you would like to enter by email info@serredesormes.co.uk).

Please share with friends to give them a chance of winning too.

Terms and Conditions:

i/ The holiday is for one person with a 20% discount for partner or friend sharing the same room.
ii/ Week’s holiday to be taken during 2017 and is subject to availability.
iii/ If you have already booked a stay with us this year then the holiday can be taken next year.
iv/ Entries close Thursday 27/04/17 with the draw to be made on the 28/04/17. You will NOT be charged for entering after this date but you won’t win:)
v/ This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by Facebook.
vi/ Transfer from Marseille Airport or Aix-en-Provence TGV is available at our standard cost but timings may be subject to other bookings
vi/ For more details on whats included see our What’s Included Page on our website. Note Flights / Travel Insurance not included.

 

Top Tips for climbing Mont Ventoux by Bike.

Whether you are looking just to get to the top of this iconic mountain, or after a bigger cycling challenge then here are some top tips for climbing Mont Ventoux.

The Easiest Way to cycle up Mont Ventoux.

The easiest side to climb is definitely from the historic village of Sault. Although the longest climb (26km), Sault is at 760m so you already have a 400m headstart over the climbs from Bedoin and Maulacene. With an average gradient of only 4.4% it is still a fabulous climb but much more forgiving on the legs.

The Best Way Up Mont Ventoux

For an unforgettable day on the bike we thoroughly recommend combining it with a descent through the Gorges de la Nesque. Again starting from the market town of Sault, cross the plateau of lavender fields before climbing to the viewpoint at the head of the Gorges de la Nesque where you can enjoy the views before the long gradual descent through the Gorges. From here head North to Bedoin and the climb of Mont Ventoux before descending back down to Sault. It can get extremely hot on the south facing slopes of Mont Ventoux during July and August so you may want to consider doing this loop in an anti-clockwise direction or starting really early. Check out the route on Strava here.

3 Times up Mont Ventoux

If you are looking for a bigger challenge why not try climbing the three sides of Mont Ventoux in one day. With 4400m of climbing and descending, the “Cingles” (French for crazy!) is one of the ultimate cycling challenges. We recommend an early start for this one, often starting the climb in the dark which adds to the atmosphere of the day. By climbing the Bedoin side first you get the hardest and hottest climb out the way before descending to Malaucene and finally ending with the Sault climb. We can offer a full van support throughout the day so all you need to worry about is the pedalling.

The weather

The weather can be a bigger challenge than the climb itself, if the Mistral is blowing it can be extremely windy at the summit and you will see where the mountain gets it’s name,vent in venteux meaning wind in French. It can also get very cold at the top so be prepared to take plenty of clothes, you can be descending for a long time.

How steep is it?

Like the French Alps, the climbs are not as steep as back in the UK just a lot longer! The maximum gradient peaks at 12% and there are sustained sections of 10%. You need to be comfortable peddling at this gradient though the climb typically takes between 1 hour 45 minutes and 3 hours so you don’t want to be running out of gears in the first few kilometres.

There is lots more technical information on each climbs profile on Climb by bike Climb By Bike.

Come and find out for yourself!!

Please get in touch with us if you need any more info or tips for climbing Mont Ventoux or too start planning your cycling holiday with us today.

Happy Pedalling

Paul and Kate

Perfect Energy Bars for Cycling

We just spent a great week ski touring in the Queyras. Food choice on a trip like this is really important as you need to carry all your daytime snacks for the whole week. These bars worked really well and they taste great. The best thing about this recipe is you can change most of the ingredients to incorporate what you fancy or what you have in the cupboard. The following is a recipe for one of our favourites. Our guests can look forward to these during their relaxing cycling holiday at Serre des Ormes this summer. I just need to resist testing them with a cup of coffee.

Ingredients

Cycling Holiday Snacks
Ingredients for the perfect energy bar

100g Butter (or Coconut Oil)
100g Honey
200g Oats
50g Toasted Almonds
75g Chopped Dates
75g Chopped Figs
45g Chopped Apricots
45g Cranberries
65g Mix of Flax, Chia, Pumpkin and Sunflower

Melt the butter and honey in a pan, add all the dried fruit then add all the other ingredients and thoroughly combine. Push into an 20cm square tin and level off with a fork. Bake for 25 at 150 degrees, cool slightly in the tin then cut into 16 squares before completely cooled. Store in a sealed container in the fridge.

Happy pedalling. Kate

Cycling Holiday Snacks
Perfect Energy Bars for the Bike

Delicious Berry and Banana Oaty Muffins

Here at Serre des Ormes we are always looking for healthy new recipes to fuel our bike rides or runs. These Muffins are great as they use hardly any sugar or fat and they are delicious as well as filling.

Ingredients (Makes 18):

200g of Wholemeal Flour or Rye Flour
200g Porridge Oats
75g Soft Brown Sugar or Honey
3tsp Baking Powder
1tsp Cinamon
1tsp Salt
2 Mashed Banana
2 eggs, separated
3 tbsp Sunfower Oil
250ml Milk
125g Mixed Berries (or berry of choice) – fresh or frozen
50g Pecans or Almonds

Preheat oven to 180 degrees.

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a bowl, mix in the mashed bananas, milk, oil and egg yolks then the berries. Finally, whisk the egg whites until stiff and then fold them into the mixture. Share the mixture between 18 muffin cases and bake in the oven for about 35 mins or until golden brown on top.

Healthy Bike Snacks - Muffins

Enjoy:)

Rapha Festive 500 Challenge

On January 15th 2016 my partner, Paul and I got the keys to our new house in the Hautes-Alpes. We had quit our jobs and moved to France to set up a cycling retreat in a beautiful and undiscovered area within cycling distance of both Mont Ventoux and the Alps, Le Serre des Ormes.

We started the year in a whirl of DIY and French bureaucracy, but with a lot of hard work and a bit of luck we managed to open our doors to our first guests in June.

I was a newbie to Strava, having resisted for several years knowing it would drive my competitive spirit to do stupid things, and within one week I had already signed up to the Rapha Festive 500! However we knew it would motivate us to get out on the bikes during the festive period and it would be a great way to end a year that had been all about cycling for us.

We were raring to go and despite having a couple of non cycling guests staying over Christmas we decided that there would still be plenty of time to get the required miles in during the day.

We planned to do the challenge together but Christmas Eve dawned and Paul had come down with a cold and was not in any way up for cycling on the first day. I was a little disappointed having envisaged cycling together but I had signed up so undeterred I went out anyway.

Paul, unusual for him, stayed in bed. I willed the guests to finish their breakfasts so I could clear up and get going. The weather with us in France is admittedly probably better for cycling than our native UK but the mornings over the festive period were bitterly cold so I didn’t want to start too early. Fortunately it is such a dry climate the roads are dry and ice isn’t a big problem. Lots of layers are needed first thing but by the afternoon it is generally quite warm, a 20 degree difference is quite normal. For that reason I decided to take a rucksack full of clothes and snacks.

Our challenge this week was also to find flattish routes as we both normally love riding up the local cols, but not the best way to knock of the miles or the greatest in the cold. So I started out towards Sederon to take in the Tour of the Jabron which is a picturesque route mainly on the valley roads. Once I had warmed up I quite enjoyed cycling through the winter wonderland and up the gentle Col de la Pigière at the head of the valley, there was still quite a bit of snow at the side of the roads from weeks earlier but the roads themselves were ice free. I had a very early and very strong coffee, for a quick warm up after the descent from the Col, in a traditional French bar in Les Omergues. The local wild boar hunters were the only other people in the bar, also trying to warm up, but with Pastis. Buzzing with the hit of caffeine, I continued the next 30km of mostly descent into the Citadelle town of Sisteron. Sisteron is known as the Gateway to Provence and is an impressive town with incredible rock formations, popular with local climbers. I consumed a very ‘healthy’ selection of savoury pastries from a Boulangerie and decided I had the energy to put in a few additional kilometers. I headed up the canal towards Gap, with a great view of the snowy mountains of the Ecrins National Park as my backdrop, before looping back and up through the stunning Gorges de la Méouge. With 112.6km done I thought it was not going to be too much of a problem to finish the challenge and after all I had a great head start on Paul.

On Christmas day we planned to cycle through the Méouge Gorge to our friends house in Ribiers for Christmas lunch but Paul was still feeling unwell. Keen to knock of some more miles and build up an appetite for the feast ahead I put in a quick flat blast of 34km up the road. In Provence they traditionally eat 13 desserts after Christmas dinner, the desserts represent Jesus Christ and the 12 apostles. Although some of the desserts are things like nuts and dried fruits it is still a lot to get through after Foie Gras and roast dinner. Another reason to get out on the bike and burn of those calories.

Day 3, Boxing Day in the UK, Paul was feeling a bit better so finally we cycled together. Despite the extreme cold in the mornings the weather was spectacular, blue skies and sun everyday. The area has had the driest December since records began. We cycled North towards Aspremont, with the imposing snow capped Pic de Bure always visible, then back around and over some smaller hills to Col de Faye and a blast back home along the Canal with the strong Mistral wind assisting us. Another 110km knocked of the total.

The following day we decided that we wanted to go over a couple of Cols and have a look across to Mont Ventoux to see how much snow was on it. We headed out and up the North Facing and cold Col de la Pigière and Col de Negron. Fortunately by the time we headed down the South side the sun had warmed things up a bit. Coming back around Sault and up and over the appropriately named Col de l’Homme Mort I started to feel a bit worse for wear, the miles and the start of a cold were starting to take their toll but it was another 95.5km completed. We have tried to find out why it is called dead mans Col but there doesn’t seem to be a definitive answer, all sorts from an assassination and the death of brothers heading back to their farm in a snowstorm and subsequently being eaten by a wolf packs to a mis-translation when the cartographers for Napoleon did not understand the local ‘patois’ meaning of Col of the dead Elm.

On 28th January I finally succumbed to Paul’s cold and really could not do anything for the next two days and it was looking like it would not be possible to finish with 150km to go and feeling terrible. Paul used the two days to catch up with me with strict instructions not to do anymore distance than I had.

Friday we put in a fairly easy and flat 56.1km but I was not on top form. Going out cycling in sub-zero temperatures was probably not the best idea but I had a Strava/Rapha challenge to complete.

For some crazy reason and despite my ongoing cold we wanted to complete the challenge on a high (literally) and thought it would be good to finish on Mont Ventoux. It seemed appropriate to be climbing such an iconic hill on New Year’s eve. With the car showing -10 degrees we left at 8am and drove back across Col de l’Homme Mort to start in Ferassières. We needed to get in 30km before starting the climb and I think it is the coldest 30km I have ever done on a road bike. Fortunately after a coffee and pain au chocolat in Sault it was getting warmer as we started the climb up Ventoux. We met and rode with a crazy Hungarian who has been serving in the French Foreign Legion for 8 years. He had recently bought a bike having decided he would like to cycle back to Hungary for a “holiday” one day so was getting some good practice in. After a while we decided to press on and left him to ride at his own pace on his heavily loaded bike. Surprisingly we saw quite a few others on bikes but not the normal summer crowds. At Chalet Reynard there was a big classic car rally going on so we were quite glad we hadn’t come up the Bedoin side which was busy with cars. After Chalet Reynard the road was shut so there were just the odd cyclist and some walkers. The views were stunning with a cloud inversion to the South and the snowy peaks to the North. We enjoyed a sandwich at the summit chatting with other cyclists and after a cold descent from the top stopped to warm up with a chocolat chaud at Chalet Reynard. A vin chaud seemed more tempting but we still had 30km to go. I think it was the 26km of descending that brought back my cold. And by the time I reached Sault I was wrecked! The last 10km back to the car were brutal and every pedal stroke was an effort. Finally we reached the car though and knowing we had only just scraped over the line thought we had better do a celebraory lap of the village to make sure there were no GPS errors! We had done it though, the days ride of 94.1km and 1700m of climbing had taken us over the 500km mark and we had completed the Festive 500.

It was really good to do it and I definitely rode on days I wouldn’t have normally gone out just to get the miles in. I hope it bodes well for 2017 and we can encourage lots of guests to come to Serre des Ormes to cycle.

The challenge had completely finished me though and the return of my cold meant I was happier to enjoy New Years Eve on the couch in front of a warm fire before an early night. We woke up early on New Years Day and leaving our bikes behind went for walk in the mountains. During the walk Paul got down on one knee in the snow and proposed to me. He said he had considered it on Mont Ventoux but I looked too unwell, a shame as it would have been good for the story. Oh, I said yes!!!

Kate.