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Cycling the Languedoc
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Bicycle Tours in France: Cycling the Languedoc

France's Langue d'Oc region 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. We pedal from classical Roman Provence in Nimes into the Cévennes Mountains, made famous to the English speaking world by Robert Louis Stevenson in his classic travel book, Travels with a Donkey. Then we are mostly on the Languedoc plain, cycling flat and quiet country roads across the Canal du Midi as we pass wine estates and wine villages.

We have a two night stay on this trip near the Cévennes Natural Park so you can take it easy in a peaceful setting or explore on your bike at your leisure. The tour finishes with a highlight, Carcassonne, perhaps the best preserved Medieval fortress town in Europe.

As on all of our tours, food is central to this trip and we'll enjoy a mix of French, Provençal and Catalan cuisine with local wines.

***If this sounds great but you'd like a longer tour, check out our Bicycling Languedoc Plus! French Catalonia tour, which extends this itinerary by 3 days.***

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 5-15km (3-9 miles).

Lodging: Hotel Imperator Concorde

Day 2: Bicycle from Nîmes to Anduze

Highlights: Mediterranean villages, the smell of lavender, sage, rosemary, Costières de Nîmes wines, unique Bamboo Forest reserve

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. Dinner on your own tonight. Distance: 55km (34 miles).

Lodging: L'Auberge les 3 Barbus

Day 3: Bicycle from Anduze to Ganges

Highlights: One of our favorite bicycle rides anywhere

We pedal into 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. People who have ridden today's route tell us it is one of the prettiest rides on any of our tours. It was in the high Cévennes that Robert Louis Stevenson walked with his donkey, Modestine, and wrote his classic Travels with a Donkey. Enjoy traffic-free roads not much wider than a bike path. Our hotel is located just outside of Ganges nestled between the foothills of the Cévennes and the great plain of Languedoc. Dinner is on your own this evening. Distance: 62km (38 miles).

Lodging: Hotel Les Norias

Day 4: Ride from Ganges to Mourèze

Highlights: The Herault Gorge, St. Guilhem le Desert, Pont du Diable (the "devil's bridge")

We leave the Cévennes Mountains behind as we glide downhill through the gorge of the Herault River. We'll pedal to the banks of the river where our canoes await us for an exciting descent into the gorge. As we take in a whole new perspective from the water we'll stop for a swim and lunch before arriving in St. Guilhem le Desert. 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. Those of you who wish to skip the canoeing will have the option of cycling the entire route. Our hotel, with dinner together, is near Clermont L'Hérault tonight. Distance: 55-62 km (34- 39 miles)

Lodging: Auberge de Val Mourèze

Day 5: Bicycle around Lac du Salagou, go for a hike, or relax by the pool

Highlights: Rest day in wine country, swimming pool, optional ride, Cirque de Mourèze

We're in the same hotel tonight so this is your opportunity to take a rest at the hotel, a hike to the fascinating rock formations of the Cirque de Mourèze, a ride around the Lac du Salagou, or a more aggressive ride into the foothills of the Cévennes. We'll support the ride around the lake for those interested and we'll suggest longer rides if you'd like. Dinner is together again tonight. Optional rides from 30-80 km (19-50 miles).

Lodging: Auberge de Val Mourèze

Day 6: Bicycle from Mourèze 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 cross the famous Canal du Midi just to the south near the impressive "nine-locks" of Fonséranes. 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: 82km (52 miles).

Lodging: Hotel La Residence

Day 7: Bicycle from Narbonne to Carcassonne

Highlights: Flat rides on 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. Dinner is together this evening. Distance: 74km (45 miles).

Lodging: Mercure Porte de la Cité

Day 8: Tour ends in Carcassonne

Highlights: Carcassonne

Our tour ends today in Carcassonne. You might choose to stay another day here to take in all of the sights or head over the "pink" city of Toulouse to continue exploring. Whatever you choose, "bon voyage," or, as they say in Catalan "bon viatge!"

***If this sounds great but you'd like a longer tour, check out our Bicycling Languedoc Plus! French Catalonia tour, which extends this itinerary by 3 days.***

  • Highlights
    Canal du Midi, Nimes, Bamboo Forest Reserve, Canoe down the Herault River, Carcassonne, Great bicycle rides, Langudoc wines
  • Includes
    "The Usual" plus... Use of a quality 27-30 speed bicycle; 8 days, 7 nights' accommodation; 7 breakfasts, 5 dinners with wine; special visits listed in the itinerary
  • Countries
    France
  • Begin/End
    Nimes / Carcassonne
  • Arrive/Depart
    Nimes Airport (FNI), Marseille Provence Airport (MRS) / Marseille Provence Airport (MRS), Barcelona (BCN)
  • Total Distance
    363 - 430 km (224 - 265 miles)
  • Daily Distance
    Average daily mileage: 51 - 61 km (32 - 38 miles) with options for days off the bike
  • What to Expect
    Southern France's border region of Languedoc, features wine estates, Roman ruins, the Medieval fortress town of Carcassonne
  • Rating
    201-301
    Mostly flat riding on the Plains of Languedoc with some climbing days in the Cévennes Mountains and the foothills of the Pyrenees.
  • Notes
  • Terms
Please call 1-800-685-4565 or e-mail us for the dates for this tour.
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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)
In the few days since we have been back I have highly recommended the tour to anyone who will listen. It was well organized, interesting, and an all-around great time.
Peter H., Portland, OR