Bicycling the South of France Plus!
The South of France or Langue d'Oc region as it is known has always been a border region - between Spain and France, the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, and, in ancient times, between Rome and northern Gaul. Today it is classic Mediterranean France with vast expanses of vineyards, vestiges of Roman history in Nimes and Narbonne, and a mix of languages that include classic French, traditional Occitan and Catalan. Join us to bicycle and explore this little traveled region on roads not much wider than bike paths.
***If this sounds great but you'd like a shorter tour, check out our Bicycling the South of France tour, which shortens this itinerary by 3 days.***View Day-by-Day ItineraryHide Day-by-Day Itinerary
Day 1: Arrive in Nîmes
Highlights: Roman buildings including the amphitheater or "Arena" and the Maison Carrée, a Roman temple in the Center of Nîmes
Our tour begins today in Nîmes, one of several cities founded along or near the Rhone River by the Romans in the first and second centuries B.C. Take time to visit the best-preserved Roman amphitheater in France, the "Arena" which is still used for Provençal style bull fights and the Maison Carrée, a perfectly preserved Roman temple dating to 16 BC. We'll fit bicycles this afternoon and suggest a warm up ride for those who wish. We have a welcome dinner together this evening.
Distance: Warm up rides of 5-15 km (3-9 miles). Meals: D
Lodging: Hotel Imperator Concorde
Day 2: Bicycle from Nîmes to Anduze
Highlights: Mediterranean villages, lavender, sage, rosemary, Costières de Nîmes wines, Bamboo Forest
We ride west into Languedoc through small wine villages of the Costières de Nîmes today. Aromatic drought resistant scrub bushes and plants, including lavender, sage and rosemary, dot the landscape. Our hotel is in the foothills of the Costiéres de Nîmes a few kilometers outside of Anduze. Take time to visit the Bamboo Forest that you'll pass by just before our hotel. It hosts a fascinating collection of exotic, tropical plants including 150 species of bamboo, Sequoia and banana trees.
Distance: 59 km (37 miles). Meals: B, D
Lodging: L'Auberge les 3 Barbus
Day 3: Loop ride in the Cévennes
Highlights: Tiny mountain roads, Alés
We pedal in the foothills of the Cévennes Mountains where you'll have spectacular views and a gentle pace as we explore medieval villages that seem frozen in time. It was in the high Cévennes that Robert Louis Stevenson walked with his donkey, Modestine, and wrote his classic Travels with a Donkey. Plan to enjoy lunch in Alés, an important town in the Protestant fight for religious freedom, and home to Alphonse Daudet, and Louis Pasteur.
Distance: 47 km (29 miles). Meals: B, D
Lodging: L'Auberge les 3 Barbus
Day 4: Ride from Anduze to Ganges
Highlights: One of our favorite bicycle rides anywhere, Market day in St Jean du Gard
People who have ridden today's route tell us it is one of the prettiest rides on any of our tours. Enjoy traffic-free roads not much wider than a bike path, and get picnic supplies at one of the most charming local outdoor markets we know. Our hotel is located just outside of Ganges, nestled between the foothills of the Cévennes and the great plain of Languedoc.
Distance: 67 km (42 miles). Meals B, D
Lodging: Domaine de Blancardy
Day 5: Bicycle Ganges to Sète
Highlights: St. Guilhem, scenic cycling, finish on the Mediterranean Sea
We leave the Cévennes Mountains behind as we glide downhill through the gorge of the Herault River to St. Guilhem le Desert (desert because it is a lone village on this dry limestone plateau). Here, in 904 AD William of Gellone established a monastery. The village still retains an ancient Medieval atmosphere. Part of the cloister from the monastery was moved to Manhattan in the 1930s and is now "The Cloisters" portion of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Stop in St. Guilhem for coffee and a stroll before heading on to the Mediterranean Sea. Our approach to the delightful seaside town of Sète will be via ferry and you'll visit the famous oyster and mussel beds of the Etang de Thau.
Distance: 92 km (57 miles). Meals: B
Day 6: Bicycle from Sète to Narbonne
Highlights: Roman Narbonne, Narbonne's 13th century cathedral, Canal du Midi
We're on the road again today among vineyards and farmland as we head to the ancient Roman city of Narbonne. Narbonne was built along the Via Domitia, the Roman road that connected Italy with Spain during the second century B.C. when Rome expanded beyond the Alps. We'll bypass the busy city of Beziers and ride along the famous Canal du Midi. The canal connects Atlantic France with the Rhone River and Mediterranean France. Narbonne was and continues to be a major transportation corridor on the great coastal plain of Languedoc.
Distance: 85 km (53 miles). Meals: B
Lodging: Hotel La Residence
Day 7: Bicycle from Narbonne to Carcassonne
Highlights: Small country roads, Corbières vineyards, Canal du Midi, Carcassonne
Our leisurely ride today takes us across the flat plains of Languedoc to the perfectly preserved late Medieval town of Carcassonne. This corridor between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, bounded on the south by the Pyrenees Mountains, has been an important transportation route since pre-Roman times. Completed in the 13th century, the famous walls of Carcassonne were restored in the late 19th century.
Distance: 76 km (47 miles). Meals: B, D
Lodging: Mercure Porte de la Cité
Day 8: Loop ride out of Carcassonne
Take a loop ride north of Carcassonne today toward the "Montagne Noire." Like the Cévennes, "Black Mountain" is a part of France's central mountains, the "Massif Central." Depending on how far you venture, you may begin to see the transition zone where Mediterranean vegetation begins to give way to a wetter, more Atlantic vegetation zone. Today's ride should leave you plenty of time to wander the Medieval streets of Carcassonne.
Distance: 44 km (27 miles) or more for those who wish. Meals: B
Lodging: Mercure Porte de la Cité
Day 9: Bicycle from Carcassonne to Cucugnan
Highlights: Vineyards, Cathar castles, river gorges and beautiful vistas in the foothills of the Pyrenees
Some vintners in Limoux would have you believe that they produced sparkling wines even before Champagne did. We'll ride through this wine region south of Carcassonne as we enter the foothills of the Pyrenees Mountains. Today's ride features meandering river valleys, steep sided gorges, and perched Cathar castles. Bicycling has been a part of the local culture since the Tour de France came through here in 1909. Our destination is the small town of Cucugnan.
Distance: 87 km (54 miles). Meals: B, D
Lodging: L'Auberge de Cucugnan
Day 10: Bicycle to Perpignan
Highlights: Queribus castle, Cathar castle ruins, Perpignan Cathedral
In Nîmes we were on the border of Provence and Languedoc where Occitan was the historic language. Today we pedal out of the Pyrenees to Perpignan and enter another border region between France and Spain where Catalan is the second language. The bicycling here is exhilarating and the culture unique to this corner of France. In Perpignan you'll want to visit the palace of the Kings of Majorca and St. John's Cathedral, both built by Spanish kings who controlled the region off and on over four centuries. We'll enjoy a special final dinner together this evening.
Distance: 47 km (29 miles). Meals: B, D
Lodging: Mercure Perpignan Centre
Day 11: Tour ends in Perpignan
Highlights: Bon Voyage
Our tour ends today in Perpignan. Perpignan was once the capital of the Kingdom of Mallorca so perhaps you'd like to continue your travels to that exotic island. Alternatively, Barcelona is not far across the border. Whatever you choose, "bon voyage," or, as they say in Catalan "bon viatge!"
HighlightsNimes, Bamboo Forest Reserve, Canoe down the Herault River, Carcassonne, Great bicycle rides, St. Guilhem le Desert, Canal du Midi, Cathar castles, Kings of Majorca and St. John's Cathedral
IncludesUse of a quality 27-30 speed bicycle; 11 days, 10 nights' accommodation; 10 breakfasts, 7 dinners with wine; oyster tasting; guided visit Carcassonne; wine tasting and wind mill visit; plus "The Usual""The Usual" (Included with every ExperiencePlus! tour)
Begin/EndNimes / Perpignan
Arrive/DepartNimes Airport (FNI), Marseille Provence Airport (MRS) / Marseille Provence Airport (MRS), Barcelona (BCN)
Total Distance609 - 619 km (326 - 378 miles)
Daily DistanceAverage daily mileage: 61 km (37 miles) with options for days off the bike
Rating301 Flat rides and some gentle climbs on Days 2, 6, 7, and 8. Days 3, 4, 5 have some more challenging climbs in the Cevennes Mountains. The final two riding days are in the foothills of the Pyrenees.
TermsTerms & Conditions
Dates Price Single Supplement Notes May 21-31, 2016 $4850 $650 Book Now and Save $200, per person. Book it Jun 25-Jul 5, 2016 $4700 $650 Book Now and Save $200, per person. Book it Sep 3-13, 2016 $4850 $650 Book Now and Save $200, per person. Book it
* We are happy to match solo travelers who would like to share a room with someone of the same gender. If no match exists, due to hotel pricing, we will charge 50% of the single supplement rate. This fee will be collected at the time of the final payment. If a roommate assignment is available this fee will be refunded at the conclusion of the tour.
2015 Tours With a New Twist
In 2015 we're thrilled to report we've made a number of exciting enhancements to a few destinations.
Cycling the Languedoc
ExperiencePlus! Staff member Jo Baldwin offers her impressions of the inaugural tour through the Languedoc region of France
France Trip Planner
Read up on country customs, airport information, culinary specialites, and more!
Meals on Your Bicycle Tour
Information on how meals work on ExperiencePlus! Bicycle tours
We Are ExperiencePlus! Meet your Tour Leaders
We'd like to introduce you to your tour leaders. We believe we have the best bicycle tour leaders out there, click through to see a slideshow about them.
Restaurant Basics in France
Ordering, meal times, and customs at the restaurant in France
Small Hotels in Paris
Travel and Leisure recommends affordable small hotels in Paris. Enjoy one pre or post-tour!
Wine & Cheese Pairing Chart
Our friends at Wine Inquirer have put together a great chart to help you figure out what to serve with the wine you enjoyed on tour!
- 2015 Tours With a New Twist
Provincial France with lots of hills, wheat, and grapes. Great hotels, food and wine.Russ b., Arcadia, CA
This tour is more about the biking than the cultural and historical aspects of the area. The biking was both challenging and exhilarating - loved it! We have now been on five Experience Plus tours, and we loved them all. We can not even choose a favorite since they were all so wonderful.Ellen L., Boulder, CO
Best tour EVER!Robert P., Bellevue, WA
Best vacation ever, great people, incredible scenery and relaxing.Debbie F., Washougal, WA
One of the most beautiful areas of France we have biked through. . ."Off-the-main-drag" routes everywhere. Roads not crowded. Pleasant places to eat along the route. Thanks for a great vacation!Jerry S., Palo Alto, CA
The best ExperiencePlus! tour I have taken for route, scenery, diversity. Fantastic rides every day.Dick S., Palo Alto, CA