Explore the best Provence has to offer, including culinary highlights that make for a splendid Mediterranean feast of Côtes-de-Rhône wines, exquisite olive oil from a local olive press and more Roman ruins than you will find even in Italy. France's small country roads will lead you to discover the secrets behind the local artisans savoir-faire. You'll also visit the places where Van Gogh and Cézanne painted a majority of their most well-known paintings. For those of you who enjoy architecture, this trip gives you a superb view of both medieval and Roman masterpieces such as the theater and arena in Arles, the impressive Pont du Gard, the ancient Roman town of Aix-en-Provence and the medieval jewel of Uzès. To top it all off the final portion of the trip includes the small hilltop villages in the Luberon valley that made Peter Mayle's "A Year in Provence" an international best-seller. This itinerary starts out at a more relaxed pace with numerous two-night stays, then finishes with flexible days where both short and long rides are possible. It is a great bike tour for friends or couples where one partner likes to ride more than the other.
***If this sounds great but you don't have time for the full 11 days, check out our Bicycling the Best of Provence tour, which features the first 8 days of this itinerary.***
Day 1: Arrive in Arles
Highlights: Roman monuments of Arles, gourmet dinner with a local chefMeet today at our hotel in Arles on the banks of the Rhône River. The Romans bridged the Rhône here during the 1st Century B.C., and today the city has a well-preserved Roman theater and arena. The latter is still used for Provençal bullfights. This evening, we'll enjoy a special introductory meal together in a local chef's home.
Lodging: Le Calendal
Day 2: Bicycle to St Rémy
Highlights: Market in Arles, charming St RémyThis morning Arles puts on one of the largest outdoor markets in France. You'll have plenty of time to check it all out all out before taking a short but scenic ride to St Rémy. This afternoon you can start visiting St Rémy or take an optional loop ride into the surrounding countryside. We'll meet again this evening for dinner at one of our favorite local restaurants. Distance: 28 km (17 miles) or more.
Lodging: Le Castelet Alpilles
Day 3: Bicycle to Les Baux-de-Provence
Highlights: Les Baux, Roman ruins, Van Gogh sitesSt. Rémy is where Van Gogh painted several of his most famous works during a year's residence in the local sanitarium. You'll appreciate the views that inspired him as we support a ride to Les-Baux-de-Provence and into the Alpilles hills. There is much to explore in St Rémy this afternoon including the Roman ruins of Glanum, Van Gogh's sanitarium and the great shopping in town. Dinner on your own this evening. Distance: your choice, 0-49 km (0-30 miles).
Lodging: Le Castelet Alpilles
Day 4: Bicycle to St. Quentin la Poterie
Highlights: Pont du Gard, castle visit, ceramics of St. Quentin, olive mill visitWe'll start the day with an olive oil tasting at a local olive press located just a few kilometers outside St Rémy. On our ride today we will cross the Rhône at Tarascon where you can visit the perfectly preserved 15th-century castle. Our route will then continue north to the Pont du Gard which is arguably the most extraordinary Roman ruin in all of Europe. It dates to 20 B.C. when it was built to support the aqueduct that carried water from Uzés to the Roman town of Nîmes. Later this afternoon we'll arrive in St Quentin la Poterie a small town with a long tradition of pottery making going back to prehistoric times. The craftsmen of St. Quentin contributed their pottery making skills to decorate the Palais des Papes in Avignon in the 14th Century. Distance: 62 km (38 miles). Dinner is together tonight.
Lodging: Clos de Pradines
Day 5: Rest day in St. Quentin la Poterie
Highlights: Optional bike ride to Uzès and local vineyardsOptional bike ride to Uzes and local vineyards We'll be in St Quentin again tonight, so you can decide whether you want to ride today, relax by the pool, or enjoy exploring the winding streets of St Quentin. We will also offer a shuttle into medieval Uzès for those who wish. If you chose to get out on your bike, we'll take a loop ride south to Uzès and ride through rolling vineyard country. Enjoy a picnic along the way and extend your ride if you have extra energy to burn. For dinner you're on your own this evening and we'll suggest some of our favorite restaurants. Distance: 0-43km (0-27 miles), your choice.
Lodging: Clos de Pradines
Day 6: Bicycle to Vacqueyras
Highlights: Ceramics of St. Quentin, visit to Châteauneuf du Pape, Côtes du Rhône vineyards and villagesToday we head into the heart of the Côtes du Rhone vineyards with some of the most prestigious wines in the south of France including the renowned Châteauneuf-du-Pape. We'll have a beautiful ride through small villages and open countryside before arriving at Châteauneuf for a cafe lunch or picnic at the castle, a former summer palace of the Avignon Popes, followed by an optional wine tasting of your choice at any of the countless local wineries. Our route continues on to Vacqueyras surrounded by vineyards and set against the foot of the Dentelles de Montmirail mountains- our little paradise for the next two nights. Dinner is on your own this evening and we'll provide some restaurant suggestions for you. Distance: 65 km (40 miles)
Lodging: Hotel Le Pradet
Day 7: Optional rides through wine country
Highlights: Roman vestiges and medieval castle in Vasion, picturesque wine villages (Sablet, Séguret, Beaumes-de-Venise), optional climb up Mont Ventoux.You can take a day off the bikes and relax at the hotel or pedal our loop ride to Vaison-la-Romaine and the nearby quaint villages known for their wines. Vaison offers some great insight into Roman and medieval life and architecture with its Roman ruins, archeological museum, and imposing castle. The rest of the loop continues through wine country and Provençal villages with the giant Mont Ventoux set in the background. For who want to push your limits there is also the opportunity to ride 100km (62 miles) and ascend Mont Ventoux, the most illustrious Tour de France climb! Dinner is together tonight. Distance: 54 km (33 miles), or 100 km (62 miles).
Lodging: Hotel Le Pradet
Day 8: Bicycle to Fontaine-de-Vaucluse
Highlights: Vénasque, Sénanque Abbey, Gordes, Fontaine-de-VaucluseToday we pedal south into the Luberon Natural Park with its spectacular hilltop villages. Our scenic roads will lead you to the beautiful 11th century Cistercian Sénanque Abbey then up to the perched village of Gordes, one of the most prominent villages of the Luberon. We'll enjoy a beautiful view of the valley as we wind our way down through the adjoining countryside and village of Fontaine-de-Vaucluse which was built around the mysterious spring of the Sorgue river that surges out from underneath a towering limestone cliff. Dinner is on your own this evening. Distance: 55 km (35 miles).
Lodging: Hotel du Poete
Day 9: Bicycle to Lourmarin
Highlights: Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, Oppède-le-Vieux, Ménerbes, Lacoste, LourmarinOften referred to as the "Venice of Provence" Isle-sur-la-Sorgue is just a short ride away this morning where you can stop to explore network of canals and water wheels. Our route today continues on to more of the picturesque hilltop villages of the Luberon many of which were featured in Peter Mayle's best seller "A Year in Provence". We'll take our time enjoying the great views, quaint streets, cafés, and impressive architecture that each place has to offer. After pedaling by the Marquis de Sade castle in Lacoste we'll wind our way between the Grand Luberon and the Petit Luberon mountains by way of Bonnieux and reward ourselves with a fantastic descent through the canyon to the village of Lourmarin. You can relax at the hotel this afternoon, visit the castle in Lourmarin or continue to explore the nearby villages on the southern side of the Grand Luberon. We'll have a delicious meal together this evening. Distance: 55 km (35 miles) or more. Your choice.
Lodging: Le Mas de Guilles
Day 10: Bicycle to Aix-en-Provence
Highlights: Cézanne landscapes, Aix, Montage Sainte VictoireOur destination today is Aix-en-Provence, ancient Roman town and birthplace of the post-Impressionist painter, Paul Cézanne. This morning's ride will take you through local vineyards of the Côtes du Luberon and Côteaux d'Aix wines and the captivating countryside that Cézanne painted so many times. Once in Aix you'll have the option of pedaling out to get some up-close pictures of his greatest muse, the Montagne Sainte Victoire, or taking your time to explore the charming town of Aix. We'll celebrate our final dinner together this evening. Distance: 45-68 km (28-42 miles).
Lodging: Les Augustins
Day 11: Tour ends in Aix-en-Provence, France
Highlights: Bon VoyageOur tour ends this morning after breakfast. Thanks for cycling with us through the highlights of Provence. Whatever your plans are from here, bon voyage!
HighlightsCézanne's Montagne Sainte-Victoire, Aix-en-Provence, Luberon villages, Saint Rémy, Special dinner at a local chef's home, Pont du Gard, Châteauneuf du Pape, Olive mill visit, Informative wine tasting, Arles, The best of Roman Provence, Sénanque Abbey, Uzès, Van Gogh country, Côtes du Rhones wine villages
Includes"The Usual" plus... Use of a quality 27-30 speed bicycle; 11 days, 10 nights' accommodation; 6 dinners with wine & 10 breakfasts; special visits listed in the itinerary
Begin/EndArles / Aix-en-Provence
Arrive/DepartParis: Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) or Orly Airport (ORY) , Marseille Provence Airport (MRS)
Total Distance364 - 525 km (225 - 324 miles)
Daily Distance40 - 58 km (25 - 36 miles) - plus optional distance for those who wish
What to ExpectA special selection of Provence's ancient Roman and medieval sites topped with delicious culinary experiences and local wines. A myriad of small country lanes through the picturesque Provencal landscapes that inspired both Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Cézanne as well as writer Peter Mayle.
Options for shorter or longer rides. Several days have short distances and are on flat or rolling terrain with one or two moderate hills. On other days expect hillier terrain with some climbs of 2 to 3 miles.
|Jun 13 - 23, 2014||$4550||$650||Confirmed.||Book It|
|Sep 19 - 29, 2014||$4550||$650||Just 3 spaces available.||Book It|
|Oct 03 - 13, 2014||$4550||$650||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.
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