Bicycling Paris to Lyon Plus! Marseille

  • Itinerary Summary

    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.

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    1. Day 1: Welcome to Barbizon!

      Highlights: Fit bicycles, welcome dinner

      Meet this afternoon in Barbizon a short train ride from Paris. We fit bicycles this afternoon and go out for a warm up ride.

      Distance: optional warm up ride. Meals: D

      Lodging: Hotel des Pléiades

    2. Day 2: Barbizon

      Highlights: Guided visit of Fontainebleau Castle, Vaux le Vicomte

      Start the day 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. After our guided visit, pedal through shaded forest roads back to our comfortable hotel. You'll have the chance to visit another historic castle along the way: Vaux le Vicomte.

      Distance: 59km (36 miles) more if desired. Meals: B, D

      Lodging: Hotel des Pléiades

    3. Day 3: Barbizon to Montargis

      Highlights: Perched village of Château-Landon, historic Montargis

      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. Today's ride is packed with history, from pre-history, to Romans, and into the Middle Ages. We're sleeping in Montargis, the "Venice of the Gâtinais" tonight.

      Distance: 74 km (46 miles). Meals: B

      Lodging: Ibis Montargis Hotel

    4. Day 4: Montargis to Sancerre

      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. You'll pedal across the famous Briare canal bridge this afternoon, Europe's longest junction canal.

      Distance: 98km (61 miles). Meals: B, D

      Lodging: Hotel Le Clos Saint-Martin

    5. Day 5: Ride up the Loire Valley to Nevers

      Highlights: Loire River Valley

      You'll 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.

      Distance: 89 km (55 miles). Meals: B

      Lodging: Hotel de Diane

    6. Day 6: Nevers to Lyon

      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™ pedaled from Nevers to Lyon. While you are not going to try and pedal the entire distance, you will take a ride this morning then catch the train into Lyon like Annie did.

      Distance: 44km (27 miles). Meals: B, D

      Lodging:Sofitel Lyon Bellecour

    7. Day 7: Rest Day in Lyon

      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.

      Distance: Rest Day. Meals: B

      Lodging:Sofitel Lyon Bellecour

    8. Day 8: Train to Orange, ride to Mont Ventoux

      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!

      Distance: 40km (25 miles). Meals: B, D

      Lodging:Hotel des Pins

    9. Day 9: The Mont Ventoux!

      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 some of the best and prettiest wine country in the world. Our loop takes you through several Roman or medieval villages including Malaucène, Vaison la-Romaine, Séguret, Gigondas and Vacqueyras which will leave you arguing over which is the most charming and magnificent. It is also possible to combine Mont Ventoux and the loop.

      Distance: 0-99 km (0-61 miles). Meals: B, D

      Lodging:Hotel des Pins

    10. Day 10: Ride to the Luberon Valley

      Highlights: Bonnieux, Lourmarin

      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). Meals: B, D

      Lodging:Le Mas de Guilles

    11. Day 11: Ride to Marseille

      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 at a local's favorite.

      Distance: 40km (25 miles). Meals: B, L, D

      Lodging:Hotel de la Résidence du Vieux Port

    12. Day 12: Tour ends in Marseille

      Highlights: Marseille

      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. It was a pleasure having you join us on this ride into history.

      Meals: B

    • Highlights

      Château de Fontainebleau, Loire River Valley, Lyon, Roman Ruins in Orange, Côte du Rhône Vineyards, Marseille
    • Includes

      12 days, 11 nights accommodation; 8 dinners with wine, 1 lunch, 11 breakfasts; guided visit of Fontainebleau; 2 to 3 bilingual tour leaders plus "The Usual"
    • Countries

    • Begin/End

      Barbizon / Marseille
    • Arrive/Depart

      Paris / Marseille, Paris
    • Total Distance

      514-613 km (317-378 miles)
    • Daily Distance

      Average if you ride every mile 68 km (42 miles)
    • Rating

      301 Some long days and varied terrain as you bicycle across four regions of France.
    • Terms

      Terms & Conditions
  • Dates Price Private Room Charge Notes

    * 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 private room charge. This charge will be collected at the time of the final payment. If a roommate assignment is available it will be refunded at the conclusion of the tour.

  • Stories

    • Meals on Your Bicycle Tour

      Information on how meals work on ExperiencePlus! Bicycle tours

    • Chasing Annie

      The story behind Annie's momentous ride and her other cycling adventures, written by her great-grand nephew, Peter Zheutlin.

    • Col Collective rides Mont Ventoux (Bedoin)

      A video featuring the climb up Mont Ventoux from Bedoin which is the direction we go for our optional ride on the Paris to Marseille and Provence trips.

    • Listening to Sancerre Tell Its Story

      This article from the New York Times delves into the story of the wines of Sancerre and what makes them so good.

    • Marseille - Netflix Series

      French actor Gerard Depardieu plays the mayor of Marseille in this series that highlights the beauty of the city and the struggle for political control.

    • Marseille - The City by the Sea

      A wonderful article from the Huffington Post on a few of the sightseeing temptations available in Marseille

    • Retracing Annie Londonderry's Victorian Odyssey

      A little more about Annie's history, and Peter's own personal quest to learn more about his great great aunt.

    • The Annie Londonderry website

      Learn more about Annie's two-wheeled ride around-the-world, one of the most audacious undertakings and publicity stunts of the Victorian era. Links to articles, photos, and more information. Also pre-order Peter Zheutlin's book soon to be published by Citadel Press.

    • The Bicycle and the Women's Movement of the 1890s

      Annie Londonderry; Women on Wheels: The Bicycle and the Women's Movement of the 1890s This article, also by Peter, is an interesting look at the evolution of cycling, and how the popularity of cycling affected the Women's movement and Annie's personal journey.

    • It was all fabulous. It is my first tour with your company. I was very happy that we could ride at our own pace and on our own without getting lost. Thank you. I had a blast. I will be back! It was the combination of the exercise the country side and the attention paid to the dinners and local cuisine and wines. Fantastic.

      Tina M., Williamstown, Vic, Australia
    • This was our third tour with ExperiencePlus, and are already busy deciding on the fourth. They are the best tours we''ve done.

      Dana S., Fairport, NY
    • Excellent overall experience and riding challenge with long distances and varied terrain. Selection of restaurant, excellent service, with carefully chosen dinner menu and excellent food and wine for gourmet dinner in Sancerre.

      Helen S., Melbourne, Australia
    • Wonderful experience. The food and hotels were excellent. Fancy putting on 5 pounds AFTER a bike ride??!! Excellent food and wines.

      Jane C., Lucca, Italy
    • Gorgeous scenery, everything was taken care of and thought through, route marking was fantastic, food was amazing, wine was amazing, .... best fully-supported trip I''ve been on.

      Helena S., Sunnyvale, CA
    • Everything was flawless; the guides were excellent, the selection of routes was great. Selected hotels, food, etc. far exceeded our expectations. Take it next year !!!

      Milan S., Fairport, NY
    • 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

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