Experience the fairytale landscapes of France's beautiful forests and countryside on a journey from Parisian Île de France to the exciting multicultural Mediterranean port city of Marseille. A route steeped in history, this tour takes cyclists through the Loire River valley with stops at Roman ruins and Renaissance châteaux -including the breathtaking Palace and Park of Fontainbleau. Much of our tour traces the route of Annie Londonderry, who in 1895 became the first woman to bicycle around the world solo-on her 42-pound Columbia bicycle! After a stop in beautiful Lyon, renowned for its authentic French cuisine and its perennial appearance as a stage city in the Tour de France™, we'll continue through the famed Côte du Rhône wine region, cycle past legendary Mont Ventoux, and wind through the pastoral Provençal region of southern France.
If this sounds great but you don't have time for the full 12 days, check out our Bicycling Paris to Lyon tour, which features the first 7 days of this itinerary.
Day 1: Welcome to Paris!
Highlights: Paris, Fit bicyclesMeet this afternoon in Lieusaint on the outskirts of Paris. We fit bicycles this afternoon and go out for a warm up ride. Dinner is together tonight. Distance: optional warm up ride.
Day 2: Lieusaint to Barbizon
Highlights: Melun, Vaux-le-Vicomte castleWe'll pedal today, just as Annie did, from Lieusaint, south towards Melun and then east to our final destination, Barbizon, a charming village nestled in the Fontainebleau forest. Our route takes us by the famous castle Vaux-le-Vicomte built for Louis XIV's finance minister Fouquet who after becoming too powerful was wrongly imprisoned for treason and embezzlement. If you like, stop in for a tour of this luxurious castle in the classical style and its magnificent gardens. Dinner is together this evening. Distance: 53 km (33 miles) or more if desired.
Day 3: Barbizon to Montargis
Highlights: Guided visit of FontainebleauNew Years' eve 1894, Annie pedalled from Nemours to Montargis by way of Souppes-sur-Loing. The route she most likely would have followed is a major highway now so we'll follow her presumed route, or at least approximate it, on parallel roads. We'll start the day for those who wish visiting the illustrious Renaissance châteaux of Fontainebleau. Napoléon (of course!) slept here, and may have even resided here for a while. The château of Fontainebleau rivals the palace in Versailles and the châteaux of the Loire Valley in its magnificence. It sits in the middle of a 40,000 acre forest and gardens. Distance: 74 km (46 miles).
Day 4: Montargis to Pouilly-sur-Loire
Highlights: Pont-Canal in BriareAnnie rang in the New Year with a long ride on her single speed bike. She pedalled, as will we, from Montargis to Cosne-sur-Loire. Annie would have picked up the Loire River valley today and followed it for the next several days, avoiding the adjacent short but steep climbs. She spent the night in a private home in Cosne-sur-Loire. We'll pedal across the famous Briare canal bridge this afternoon, Europe's longest junction canal. Dinner is together. Distance: 110 km (68 miles).
Day 5: Ride up the Loire Valley to Nevers
Highlights: Loire River ValleyWe continue up the Loire River Valley today to Charité-sur-Loire and on to Nevers. Annie would have followed the river most of the way today, so we'll do the same with a beautiful forested foothills of the Morvan. Annie rode only to Charité today (about 28 km from Cosne) so you might want to stop for photos and then plan on time to take a walk in Nevers this evening. We'll enjoy dinner together this evening. Distance: 70 km (43 miles).
Day 6: Nevers to Lyon
Highlights: Lyon, Bouchon Lyonnais, Vieux LyonIt is 230 km from Nevers to Lyon, Annie's next stop. In 1895, the local head of the Union Vélocipédique du France, Mr. Nicart, persuaded Annie to take the train to Lyon "because of the deplorable state of the routes." She heeded his advice and spent two days resting in Lyon. Stage 6 of the 2003 Tour de France™ pedalled from Nevers to Lyon. While we're not going to try and pedal the entire distance, we will take a ride this morning then catch the train into Lyon like Annie did. We'll regroup this evening for dinner together at one of Lyon's many delicious restaurants. Distance: 58 km (36 miles).
Day 7: Rest in Lyon
Highlights: Lyon's monuments, museums, architectureAfter a fascinating guided tour of Vieux Lyon you'll have the entire day to relax and enjoy this wonderful city. The historic old town stretches out along a peninsula between the Rhône and Saône rivers, and is filled with beautiful monuments, museums, and buildings. Be sure to take the tramway to the top of the city heights where you'll have a magnificent view over the roof tops of the entire city. You are free to enjoy a "bouchon" restaurant on your own this evening.
Day 8: Train to Orange, ride to Mont Ventoux
Highlights: Côtes du Rhône vineyardsWe'll take a train out of Lyon this morning to Orange, where you'll pedal through some of France's most famous vineyards to the base of Mont Ventoux - a perfect position if you'd like to challenge yourself with a ride to the top tomorrow! You'll enjoy a delicious home-cooked dinner at our hotel this evening . Distance: about 50 km (about 31 miles).
Day 9: The Mont Ventoux!
Highlights: Mont Ventoux, wine villages, Roman and medieval historyTake your choice today between relaxing by the hotel pool and getting a massage, to climbing the legendary Mont Ventoux. For those who prefer something in between, we'll mark a stunning ride through Roman and medieval villages. Enjoy dinner together tonight. Distance: 0-65 km (0-40 miles).
Day 10: Ride to the Luberon Valley
Highlights: Bonnieux, LourmarinWe'll head south to the Luberon Valley, made famous by Peter Mayle's A Year in Provence. Pedal through ochre-colored Roussillon, and the perched village of Bonnieux on your way to our luxurious farm house just outside of Lourmarin. You can relax by the pool or stroll through the vast hotel grounds and herb garden this afternoon before dinner together. Distance: 80 km (50 miles).
Day 11: Ride to Marseille
Highlights: MarseilleToday we'll take on the last stage of Annie's journey all the way to her triumphant arrival in Marseille. Although Annie took the most direct route into the city, we've planned for a much more scenic approach to the base of the Chaine de l'Etoile mountains that serve as a magnificent backdrop for Marseille set against the sea. Our ride ends with a picnic lunch just outside Aix-en-Provence. After lunch we'll shuttle to our hotel in the heart of Marseille where you can spend the rest of the afternoon discovering the city. We'll have our final dinner together tonight in a great restaurant, a local favorite. Distance: 53 km (33 miles).
Day 12: Tour ends in Marseille
Highlights: Marseille, Shuttle to the airportOur journey ends this morning after breakfast. For those of you who would like to spend more time visiting this unique city, we'll suggest some highlights. We'll also help facilitate your departure from the train station and airport. It was a pleasure having you join us on this ride into history. Come back again, sometime, as we pedal into the past!
HighlightsChâteau Vaux-le-Vicomte, Château de Fontainebleau, Loire River Valley, Lyon, Roman Ruins in Orange, Côte du Rhône Vineyards, Marseille
Includes"The Usual" plus... Use of a quality 27-30 speed bicycle; 12 days, 11 nights accommodation, 8 dinners with wine, 11 breakfasts, Fontainebleau
Total Distance620 km (385 miles)
Daily Distance50 - 110 km (31 - 62 miles)
What to ExpectSome long days and varied terrain as we cut across four quite different regions of France.
|May 25 - Jun 05, 2014||$4895||$650||Confirmed.||Book It|
|Aug 17 - 28, 2014||$4895||$650||Wait List.||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.|
Click on the "pins" for details about each day's highlights.
City (on route)
City (not part of route, provided for reference)
My favorite part? The tour of Fontainebleau and Vaux-le-Vicomte and riding through the forests in the upper Loire valley. The ride through the wine villlages in the Cote du Rhone was great!
The routes chosen where exceptionally terrific with smooth pavement, wonderful vistas, and little auto traffic.
Santa Fe, NM
Santa Fe, NM
Every day was a new and exciting experience (plus)!
San Diego, CA
San Diego, CA
I was very happy with the route, the leaders, the chalked turns, and the food. It was a wonderful trip!
Walnut Creek, CA
Walnut Creek, CA