Bicycling Provence to the Pyrenees Plus!

Provence to the Pyrenees Plus
  • Length 11 days
  • From USD$5795
  • Style/Level Classic 3.5
  • Countries France
  • Begin/End Nimes / Perpignan
See related tours

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 Provence to the Pyrenees tour, which shortens this itinerary by 3 days.***

Highlights

  • Nimes, Bamboo Forest Reserve, Carcassonne, Great bicycle rides, St. Guilhem le Desert, Canal du Midi, Cathar castles, Kings of Majorca and St. John’s Cathedral

Includes

  • 11 days, 10 nights accommodation

  • meals as noted in itinerary

  • oyster tasting

  • guided visit Carcassonne

  • wine tasting and visit of artisanal bakery

  • All Classic tour inclusions


Date Price Private room fee Note
Aug 24-Sep 3, 2024 USD$5795 USD$650
DateAug 24-Sep 3, 2024
PriceUSD$5795
Private room feeUSD$650
Note

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  • Total distance 609-621 km (326 – 383 miles)
  • Average daily distance 61 km (37 miles)
  • Tour style Classic
  • Tour level 3.5

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 of 5-15 km (3-9 miles) for those who wish. We have a welcome dinner together this evening.

Meals : Dinner
Lodging : Novotel Atria Nimes Centre

Highlights: Mediterranean villages, lavender, sage, rosemary, Costières de Nîmes wines

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 Costières de Nîmes a few kilometers outside of Anduze. If you are interested in plants, take time to visit the Bamboo Forest that you’ll pass by just before our hotel. Started in 1856, the gardens hosts a fascinating collection of exotic, tropical plants including 150 species of bamboo, Sequoia and banana trees.

Meals : Breakfast, Dinner
Lodging : L’Auberge les 3 Barbus

Highlights: Tiny mountain roads, Al&eacutes

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.

Meals : Breakfast, Dinner
Lodging : L’Auberge les 3 Barbus

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. We leave the Cévennes mountains behind as we glide downhill through the gorge of the Herault River to St-Guilhem-le-Désert (“desert” because it is the only village for as far as the eye can see).

Meals : Breakfast, Dinner
Lodging : Hotel La Taverne de l’Escuelle , Hotel Le Guilhaume d’Orange

Highlights: St-Guilhem-le-Désert, oyster beds, the Mediterranean Sea

It’s an easy ride to the Mediterranean coast today, so take some time to explore more of St. Guilhem’s medieval atmosphere. 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.

Meals : Breakfast
Lodging : Grand Hotel de Sete

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.

Meals : Breakfast
Lodging : Hotel La Residence

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. Before dinner, we’ll explore Carcassonne’s narrow ancient alleyways with a local guide.

Meals : Breakfast, Dinner
Lodging : Hotel Le Montmorency

Highlights: 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.

Meals : Breakfast
Lodging : Hotel Le Montmorency

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.

Meals : Breakfast, Dinner
Lodging : L’Auberge de Cucugnan

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.

Meals : Breakfast, Dinner
Lodging : Mercure Perpignan Centre

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!”

Meals : Breakfast

Visit our Tour Level page to learn more about terrain levels and how we determine day and tour levels.



Pre-trip planning checklist



  • The best ExperiencePlus! tour I have taken for route, scenery, diversity. Fantastic rides every day.

    Dick S., Palo Alto, CA
  • 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
  • Best vacation ever, great people, incredible scenery and relaxing.

    Debbie F., Washougal, WA