Provence, France Bike Tour Itinerary
DAY ONE | Arrival Day | Easy bike-fitting ride | Aigue-Mortes: Hotel Villa Mazarin
We meet you for a free 1:30 p.m. shuttle from the train station in Nîmes. Meet at 3 p.m. at the hotel for a bike fitting and short ride to the beach. You’ll love exploring Aigue-Mortes, a famous medieval fortress town. Once an important port, it still has much of its original fortified walls and is a joy to explore — with its high stone walls and cobbled streets lined with festive restaurants, cafes and bars. The welcome dinner will be at a local restaurant.
DAY TWO | Distance: walking tour | Terrain: Easier | Aigue-Mortes: Hotel Villa Mazarin
For the next two days we follow the thread of the Rhône River. Nîmes is a city full of Roman treasures. Today we will guide you on a leisurely walking tour of Nîmes including a visit to Arènes, one of the best preserved Roman amphitheaters in the world, and Maison Carrée, an exquisitely preserved Roman temple built around 5 B.C. We might also climb the 140 steps up to the Tour Magne for a glorious view of the city.
DAY THREE | Distance: 22 miles (35 km) plus guided horseback ride | Terrain: Easier | Ste Marie de la Mer: (booking a new hotel)
Today we ride through a wide expanse of marshy plain in a national park known as the Camargue, which is home to an astounding 400 species of birds and provides a unique habitat for the area’s iconic bird, the pink flamingo. The area is also well known for its cowboy or “guardian” culture, and we will often see wranglers riding their handsome white Camargue horses while tending to their large herds of cattle. We enjoy a pleasant and easy ride to the shores of the Mediterranean where white-washed buildings are fringed by miles of beautiful sand beaches. After a delightful lunch in Ste-Maries-de-la-Mer, you can either just relax or enjoy an included guided horseback ride on one of the Camargue horses through the vast national park.
DAY FOUR | Distance: 25 miles (40 km) plus Van Gogh tour | Terrain: Easier | Arles: Hotel Le Calendal and Arles: Hôtel du Cloître
Today we enjoy a scenic ride to Arles, the beautiful town immortalized in over 300 paintings by Vincent Van Gogh. We will lead you on a walking tour of some of the more iconic places pictured in his paintings, and you will have ample time to wander through this exquisite town of narrow shady streets, small squares, lively shops, Romanesque churches, and we will include a visit to its well-known Roman arena.
DAY FIVE | Distance: 25 miles (40 km) | Terrain: Easier to Intermediate | Saint Remy de Provence: Mas des Carassins and Saint Remy de Provence: Hotel Castelet des Alpilles
As we ride into the low hill region known as the Chaine des Alpilles, you will be accompanied by the gentle fragrances of wild “ herbes de Provence” as we pass by almond orchards and lovely pine forests. We visit Les Baux, a beautifully preserved, fortified hilltop village with narrow cobbled streets lined with shops, cafes and galleries all leading up to the dramatic maze-like ruins of its spectacular 12th century castle. Our destination tonight is Saint Remy-de-Provence, a historic artists’ haven that entices visitors with its excellent gourmet shops, cheerful cafes and restaurants, finely preserved classical monuments, and its labyrinth of quiet, narrow streets.
DAY SIX | Distance: 33 miles (53 km) plus kayaking | Terrain: Easier to Intermediate | Uzes: Hostellerie Provençale
From Saint Remy-de-Provence we bike to the Pont du Gard (a UNESCO Heritage Site), where we enjoy a leisurely canoe ride that treats us to the most impressive view of this gigantic three-tiered aqueduct, awesome testimony to the sophistication and audacious engineering skills of the ancient Romans. From here we bike to Uzes, an elegant town with graceful Renaissance architecture, an arcaded central square, and the Duce, a fortified palace from which you get an expansive view over the red roof tops of this handsome village.
DAY SEVEN | Distance: 34 miles (55km) | Terrain: Intermediate | Avignon: Cloitre Saint Louis Avignone
From Uzes we ride through gorgeous countryside to Avignon. This ancient town along the Rhone is encircled by its original medieval towers and battlements. Being a former papal seat, the grand medieval papal palace Palais des Papes, and Notre Dame des Doms, an imposing 12th century Romanesque cathedral, are major attractions. And yet perhaps the greatest pleasures of Avignon involve simply wandering through its crooked streets, enjoying the sights and sounds of the old city and of course ultimately arriving at the edge of the Rhone River to visit its fabled nursery rhyme bridge (Pont d’Avignon).
DAY EIGHT | Exploration Day | Roussillon: Hotel les Sable D’Ochre
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast and stroll through the morning markets of Avignon. We will meet at the hotel lobby at 1 p.m. for a shuttle (your only in-tour shuttle – this is a true bicycling tour!) to Roussillon, our home for the last three nights. Along the way, we will visit the famous Roman Theater in Orange and have a wine tasting of the famous Chateauneuf du Pape. Roussillon rests on the world’s largest ochre deposit (used universally until recently as the red pigment in paint), and the town’s striking natural surroundings has made it an artists’ mecca for centuries. Roussillon is uniquely favored by a dramatic hilltop location overlooking a landscape of green forest, sheer cliffs and the red ochre clay outcroppings, and is equally popular for its many lovely squares, intriguing upscale shops, and the numerous cafes that line the alleys and walkways. It is also well known as a mecca for antique-ers …often there are hundreds of antique merchants whose booths line the narrow streets.
DAY NINE | Distance: 21 miles (34 km) | Terrain: Intermediate | Roussillon: Hotel les Sables D’Ochre
Today we take a gorgeous loop ride to Gordes. Considered to be one of the prettiest villages in Provence, this famous unspoiled, stone-tiered, hilltop village rises on cobbled streets high above the valley. We wind our way through narrow streets leading up to a pleasant square with a lovely fountain and a massive 12th century castle. And yet the real attraction here is the extraordinary beauty of the village itself, with its iconic, red tile roofed, stone houses standing in orderly terraces along the cliffs. On our return we will enjoy a visit to the nearby Abbaye de Sénanque. This idyllic 12th century Cistercian abbey is set in a beautiful valley, and is often photographed in a mid-summer sea of lavender. Later this evening we celebrate our tour of Provence with a marvelous farewell banquet.
DAY TEN | Distance: 35 miles (56 km) | Terrain: Easier | Roussillon: Hotel les Sables D’Ochre
Today our riding takes us through “ochre country” the picture perfect area of the Parc Naturel Régional du Luberon. This is an area of pastoral hills, perched villages and hidden valleys, and awe-inspiring landscapes bathed in a palette of colors that are a feast for the eyes. The huge popularity of this region is due not only to the delightful small villages and excellent locally produced Cotes du Ventoux wines, but also to the magnificent massive clay cliffs and other-worldly red spiral formations (reminiscent of scenes from the American southwest) that dominate the region. Our ride also takes us to some of the area’s most celebrated small villages, like Villars and Gargas, and we will have a delicious lunch in Rustrel, a small village located at the foot of the Plateau d’Albion.
DAY ELEVEN | Departure Day
Following breakfast, we will van you to Gare Avignon train station, from which you can take the TGV fast train to Charles de Gaulle Airport outside of Paris, or the train to the airport in Marseilles; or perhaps you will choose to stay in Avignon as a place to start further exploration of France on your own.
11-DAY / 10-NIGHT PROVENCE BIKE TOUR
Make your reservation with confidence. Your tour is completely 100% refundable up to 90 days of the tour date.
May 9-19, 2020: $4295
Reserve with $500 deposit
Final payment due 90 days prior to your tour (personal check, Visa, MasterCard, American Express or Discover)
Single Supplement Fee: $798
Cancellations: If you cancel your tour reservation, your cancellation fee will be determined as follows:
- If you cancel 90 or more days prior to the start of your tour, there is no cancellation fee.
- If you cancel between 60 and 89 days prior to the start of your tour, you will forfeit 50% of all tour payments.
- If you cancel between 0 and 59 days prior to the start of your tour, all tour payments will be forfeited.
The natural and wide open spaces of the Camargue with Its unspoilt beaches are a complete contrast to the French Riviera. A vast terrain full of history and wildlife. From your haven of peace in the heart of the twelth century walled town of Aigues-Mortes, discover the charms of this unique region of France.
An oasis of calm and refreshment, Les Mas des Carassins welcomes you with a 19th century hotel filled with modern charm. Lounge by the pool, enjoy a special drink and enjoy this serene location.
In the very heart of Uzès and only 100 metres from the delightful Place aux Herbes, you’ll find your three stars hotel in a 300-year old building offering a perfect blend of charm and authenticity with all the modern conveniences: air-conditioning, lift, rooms with Internet, mini-bar, LCD television, bathrooms with whirlpool baths, power showers, or floor-level showers. The restaurant, La Parenthèse, offers a host of mouth-watering dishes made only from the freshest regional products.
Built around this gorgeous historic arcaded courtyard, you’ll relax at this lovely hotel filled with charm. Enjoy the pool and the delightful rooms.
We have designed this hotel*** to be a second home where everyone can lounge, sunbathe along the pool, read under the trees, or dream under the stars.
Walking tour of Nimes; walking tour of Arles; horseback ride in the Camargue; canoeing at the Pont du Gard; wine tasting; 10 nights lodging; 10 breakfasts; 8 dinners (you are on your own for one night in Arles and Rousillon); various side trips; all related entry fees; bicycle and helmet; experienced French-speaking tour guides; full van support; detailed maps and directions. Airfare is not included.
FREE USE OF BIKES
We are happy to provide you with a bike to use at no charge. Our bikes come equipped with a front handlebar bag, rear carrier, water bottle, mirror and flat pedals. Pedal cages and soft gel seat covers are available on request. We are also happy to put your own clipless pedals (pedals that attach to your biking shoes) and seat on your bike if you wish. Specific details and styles of bikes available in each location are indicated under each photograph below. The make of bikes provided varies by location.
Virtual Tour of Provence, France