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Bicycling Paris to Lyon Plus! Marseille
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Bicycle Tours in France: Bicycling Paris to Lyon Plus! Marseille

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 (or up) 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 nights of this itinerary.

Day 1: Welcome to Paris!

Pedaling the French countryside near Melun

Highlights: Paris, Fit bicycles

Meet in Barbizon, a short train ride from Paris. We fit bicycles this afternoon and go out for a warm up ride. Dinner is together tonight. Distance: optional warm up ride.

Lodging: Hostellerie de Varennes

Day 2: Barbizon

Vaux le Vicomte

Highlights: Melun

Enjoy Barbizon's charms and setting in the Fontainebleau forest this morning. 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: 74 km (46 miles) or more if desired.

Lodging: Hotel des Pléiades

Day 3: Barbizon to Montargis

Bicycling the forest of Fontainebleau

Highlights: Guided visit of Fontainebleau

New 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).

Lodging: Ibis Montargis Hotel

Day 4: Montargis to Sancerre

Cycling through a French village

Highlights: Pont-Canal in Briare

Annie rang in the New Year with a long ride on her single speed bike. She pedaled 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: 98km (61 miles).

Lodging: Hotel Le Clos Saint-Martin

Day 5: Ride up the Loire Valley to Nevers

On the road near Charité sur Loire

Highlights: Loire River Valley

We 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 so you might want to stop for photos and then plan on time to take a walk in Nevers this evening. Dinner is on your own tonight. Distance: 89 km (55 miles).

Lodging: Hotel de Diane

Day 6: Nevers to Lyon

Near Nevers

Highlights: Lyon, Bouchon Lyonnais, Vieux Lyon

It 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 44km (27 miles).

Lodging: Sofitel Lyon Bellecour

Day 7: Rest Day in Lyon

A movie diorama in Lyon, with Annie Londonderry, we think!

Highlights: Lyon's monuments, museums, architecture

After 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.

Lodging: Sofitel Lyon Bellecour

Day 8: Train to Orange, ride to Mont Ventoux

Bicycling past Roman ruins in Vienne

Highlights: Roman ruins of Orange, Côtes du Rhône vineyards

We'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: 40km (25 miles).

Lodging: Hotel des Pins

Day 9: The Mont Ventoux!

Provençal vineyards and Mont Ventoux in the background

Highlights: Mont Ventoux, wine villages, Roman and medieval history

Take 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: 0-67 km (0-42 miles).

Lodging: Hotel des Pins

Day 10: Ride to the Luberon Valley

The road to Bonnieux in the Luberon

Highlights: Bonnieux, Lourmarin

We'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: 70 km (43 miles).

Lodging: Le Mas de Guilles

Day 11: Ride to Marseille

A quiet corner in Aix-en-Provence

Highlights: Marseille

Today 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: 45km (28 miles).

Lodging: Hotel de la Résidence

Day 12: Tour ends in Marseille

The markets of Aix-en-Provence

Highlights: Marseille, Shuttle to the airport

Our 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!
  • Highlights
    Château 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
  • Countries
  • Begin/End
  • Arrive/Depart
    Paris/Marseille, Paris
  • Total Distance
    620 km (385 miles)
  • Daily Distance
    50 - 110 km (31 - 62 miles)
  • What to Expect
    Some long days and varied terrain as we cut across four quite different regions of France.
  • Rating
  • Notes
  • Terms
Dates Price Single
Notes Next
May 21 - Jun 01, 2015 $5300 $650 Book by November 15th and Save $200, per person. Book It
Aug 23 - Sep 03, 2015 $5300 $650 Book by November 15th 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.

Click on the "pins" for details about each day's highlights.

Map Key

Green pinStart
Yellow pinCity (on route)
Red pinEnd
Other city dotCity (not part of route, provided for reference)
This was a great trip; made new friends and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. a wonderful way to see a variety of regions of France. Thanks
Ed R., Sun Lakes, AZ
Fun/ great food, wine and hotels/ beautiful route/ educational/, well planned/ ,outstanding tour leaders/amazing villages and scenery...
Gary F., Ft Collins, CO
A great way to see France. Riding was moderate, scenery was beautiful, food was fantastic!
Carol R., Sun Lakes, AZ
ou all do an amazing job of making your bike tours user friendly! Every detail is taken care of and it is so nice to have absolutely no worries while riding your bike through the most beautiful country!
Jody D. Ft Collins, CO
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!
David G.
Denver, CO
The routes chosen where exceptionally terrific with smooth pavement, wonderful vistas, and little auto traffic.
Jim S.
Santa Fe, NM
Every day was a new and exciting experience (plus)!
Jay S.
San Diego, CA
I was very happy with the route, the leaders, the chalked turns, and the food. It was a wonderful trip!
Claudia C.
Walnut Creek, CA