Bicycling the South of France

  • Itinerary Summary

    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.***

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    1. 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

    2. 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

    3. 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

    4. 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

    5. 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

      Lodging:Grand Hotel

    6. 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

    7. 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. The May departure will be at the Mercure Carassonne La Cite

    8. 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 the South of France Plus! tour, which extends this itinerary by 3 days.***

    • Highlights

      Canal du Midi, Nimes, Bamboo Forest Reserve, Carcassonne, Great bicycle rides, Languedoc wines
    • Includes

      Use 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"
    • Countries

    • Begin/End

      Nimes / Carcassonne
    • Arrive/Depart

      Paris (CDG), Nimes Airport (FNI), Marseille Provence Airport (MRS) / Paris (CDG), Tolouse (TLS)
    • Total Distance

      421 - 431 km (260 - 266 miles)
    • Daily Distance

      Average daily mileage: 61 - 62 km (38 miles) with options for days off the bike
    • Rating

      301 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.
    • Terms

      Terms & Conditions
  • Dates Price Private Room Charge Notes
    Sep 2-9, 2017 USD$3900 USD$550 Guaranteed to Go! Book it
    May 12-19, 2018 USD$3700 USD$550 Book by November 15th and save $200 Book it
    Jun 23-30, 2018 USD$3700 USD$550 Book by November 15th and save $200 Book it
    Sep 1-8, 2018 USD$3900 USD$550 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.

  • Stories

    • 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!

    • 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

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