“Allez! Courage!” The French like their cycling, and love their cyclists. The Provencal villages around ‘the Giant of Provence’, Mont Ventoux, are steeped in Tour de France folklore, and cries of encouragement fill the air as you pedal through them. Bedoin, Beaumes de Venise, Seguret, Roaix – foothill villages in a quiet corner of Provence that, away from the tourist hordes, remains the France of dreams. Life continues as it seemingly always has here – ‘progress’ means keeping a village’s local traditions, and its timeless way of life, alive. A shaded cobblestoned town square is home to petanque and a pavement cafe; a market sells local vegetables and fruit; quiet streets harbour honey-coloured houses, the scent of rosemary and thyme carrying on the air from their kitchens and nearby meadows. Cycling from village to village is a pleasure here; the only problem may be that, whatever village you happen to be in, you may not want to leave.