Bicycling the South of France
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 longer tour, check out our Bicycling the South of France Plus! tour, which extends this itinerary by 3 days.***View Day-by-Day ItineraryHide Day-by-Day Itinerary
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 5-15 km (3-9 miles). Meals: D
Lodging: Hotel Imperator Concorde
Day 2: Bicycle from Nîmes to Anduze
Highlights: Mediterranean villages, lavender, sage, rosemary, Costières de Nîmes wines, Bamboo Forest
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.
Distance: 59 km (37 miles). Meals: B, D
Lodging: L'Auberge les 3 Barbus
Day 3: Loop ride in the Cévennes
Highlights: Tiny mountain roads, Alés
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.
Distance: 47 km (29 miles). Meals: B, D
Lodging: L'Auberge les 3 Barbus
Day 4: Ride from Anduze to St-Guilhem-le-Désert
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 lone village on this limestone plateau).
Distance: 87 km (54 miles). Meals B, D
Lodging: Hotel Le Guilhaume d'Orange
Day 5: Bicycle St-Guilhem-le-Désert to Sète
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.
Distance: 50 km (31 miles). Meals: B
Day 6: Bicycle from Sète 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 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.
Distance: 86 km (53 miles). Meals: B
Lodging: Hotel Ile de Gua
Day 7: Bicycle from Narbonne to Carcassonne
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.
Distance: 76 km (47 miles). Meals: B, D
Lodging: Hotel Le Montmorency
Day 8: Tour ends in 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 the South of France Plus! tour, which extends this itinerary by 3 days.***
HighlightsCanal du Midi, Nimes, Bamboo Forest Reserve, Carcassonne, Great bicycle rides, Languedoc wines
IncludesUse of a quality 27-30 speed bicycle; 8 days, 7 nights' accommodation; 7 breakfasts, 5 dinners with wine; oyster tasting; guided visit of Carcassonne plus "The Usual""The Usual" (Included with every ExperiencePlus! tour)
Begin/EndNimes / Carcassonne
Arrive/DepartParis (CDG), Nimes Airport (FNI), Marseille Provence Airport (MRS) / Paris (CDG), Tolouse (TLS)
Total Distance421 - 431 km (260 - 266 miles)
Daily DistanceAverage daily mileage: 61 - 62 km (38 miles) with options for days off the bike
Rating301 Flat rides with some gentle climbs on Days 2, 6 and 7. Days 3, 4, 5 have some more challenging climbs in the Cevennes Mountains.
TermsTerms & Conditions
Dates Price Private Room Charge Notes Sep 2-9, 2017 USD$3900 USD$550 Guaranteed to Go! Book it Jun 23-30, 2018 TBA TBA Book by November 15th and save $200 Book it Sep 1-8, 2018 TBA TBA Book by November 15th and save $200 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 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.
2015 Tours With a New Twist
In 2015 we're thrilled to report we've made a number of exciting enhancements to a few destinations.
Cycling the Languedoc
ExperiencePlus! Staff member Jo Baldwin offers her impressions of the inaugural tour through the Languedoc region of France
Meals on Your Bicycle Tour
Information on how meals work on ExperiencePlus! Bicycle tours
My First Bike Tour
Traveler Jennifer Alexander recounts her conquering her fear and finding bliss on an ExperiencePlus! cycling tour through the South of France.
Restaurant Basics in France
Ordering, meal times, and customs at the restaurant in France
Small Hotels in Paris
Travel and Leisure recommends affordable small hotels in Paris. Enjoy one pre or post-tour!
Wine & Cheese Pairing Chart
Our friends at Wine Inquirer have put together a great chart to help you figure out what to serve with the wine you enjoyed on tour!
- 2015 Tours With a New Twist
A great way to see the small villages, close-up culture and the general countryside at a pace that otherwise would not be possible. The route through Anduze was my favorite. I finished the ride and returned to view and experience it again.Paul F., Woodinville, WA
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