Bicycling the Best of Provence

Bicycling the Best of Provence

Explore the best Provence has to offer. Culinary highlights include a splendid Mediterranean feast of Côtes-de-Rhône wines, exquisite olive oil from a local olive press and more Roman ruins than you will find even in Italy. France's small country roads will lead through the secrets behind the local artisans savoir-faire. And we'll give you the chance to taste it all from special visits and markets right up to special dinner at a local chef's home. You'll also visit the places where Van Gogh and Cézanne painted a majority of their most well-known paintings. This trip gives you a superb view of both medieval and Roman masterpieces such as the theater and arena in Arles, the impressive Pont du Gard, the ancient Roman town of Aix-en-Provence and the medieval jewel of Uzès. A great bike tour for friends or couples where one partner likes to ride more than the other.

***If you prefer a longer tour, check out our 11-day option Best of Provence Plus! the Luberon and Aix-en-Provence***

Tour Dates & Prices

Date
Price
Private Room Fee
Note
May 10-17, 2019
USD$4050
USD$550
Guaranteed to Go! 
Jun 7-14, 2019
USD$4050
USD$550
 
Sep 13-20, 2019
USD$4050
USD$550
Sold Out! Wait List Available
Sep 27-Oct 4, 2019
USD$4050
USD$550
 

* 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.

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Trip At-A-Glance

  • Length / 8 Days
  • Total Distance / 328 km (214 miles)
  • Avg. Distance / 55 km (34 miles) per riding day
  • Tour Level / 2.5
  • Countries / France
  • Begin/End / Arles / Seguret
  • Price / From USD$4050
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  • Tour Summary
  • Daily Itinerary
  • Travel Information
  • Map
  • Reviews
  • Similar Tours
Tour Summary

Tour Summary

  • Highlights
    Côtes du Rhones wine villages, Van Gogh country, Informative wine tasting, Olive mill visit, Châteauneuf du Pape, Uzès, Pont du Gard, Arles, special dinner at a local chef's home, Saint Rémy, The best of Roman Provence, Mont Ventoux.
  • Includes
    8 days, 7 nights' accommodation; 5 dinners with wine & 7 breakfasts; special visits listed in itinerary; and the usual (see below).

    The Usual (Included with every ExperiencePlus! tour)

    • Superb tour leaders who are fun, bilingual and avid cyclists.
    • Help with flights, trains and pre/post tour hotels.
    • Comfortable lodging in 3-4 star hotels. 
    • All breakfasts and at least half of your dinners.
    • Use of a high quality 27-30 speed bike.
    • Full van support to carry luggage – and tired cyclists, too! 
    • Special events like wine tastings, cultural visits and chocolatiers.
    • All tips and gratuities at tour hotels and group meals.
    • Unique routes, marked with our famous chalk dust arrows.
    • Daily mileage options.
    • Detailed route map and free use of our traveling resource library.

    What's not included:

    • Transportation to and from the bicycling tour including airfare, or train travel
    • Helmets - we ask that you bring your own to ensure the best fit
    • Meals not listed in the itinerary
    • Tour Leader gratuity

    See the complete list of what's included with every ExperiencePlus! Tour.

  • Arrive / Depart
    Paris: Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) or Marseille Provence Airport (MRS)
  • Overall Tour Level
  • Daily Ride Summary

    Day

    **Distance/Gain
    mi/ftkm/m

    Terrain

    Day Level

    Notes

    1
    Test ride
    2
    32km / 234m
    Rolling hills
    difficulty level 1.5
    Longer optional ride available
    3
    50km / 539m
    Hilly
    difficulty level 3.0
    4
    64km / 495m
    Rolling hills
    difficulty level 2.5
    5
    42km / 506m
    Rolling hills
    difficulty level 2.0
    Today's ride is an optional loop ride
    6
    72km / 769m
    Mostly flat
    difficulty level 2.5
    7
    53km / 854m
    Hilly
    difficulty level 3.5
    Longer optional ride available
    8
    Last day

    Tour Level Note: Options for more or less riding. Several days have short distances and are on flat or rolling terrain with one or two moderate hills. A couple of days have more hilly terrain with some climbs of 2 to 3 miles.

    **We use Ride With GPS (ridewithgps.com) to calculate elevation and mileage information. Due to variance between mapping technologies, totals may differ slightly across devices and applications

Terrain Legend

Mostly flat Mostly flat

Rolling hills Rolling

Hilly Hilly

Very hilly Very hilly

Mountainous Mountainous

Daily Itinerary

DAY 1: Arrive in Arles

Highlights: Roman monuments of Arles, gourmet dinner with a local chef

Meet today at our hotel in Arles on the banks of the Rhône River. The Romans bridged the Rhône here during the 1st Century B.C., and today the city has a well-preserved Roman theater and arena. The latter is still used for Provençal bullfights. This evening, we'll enjoy a special introductory meal together in a local chef's home.

DAY 2: Bicycle to St Rémy

Highlights: Market in Arles or Saint Paul de Mausole, charming St Rémy

This morning Arles puts on one of the largest outdoor markets in France. You'll have plenty of time to check it all out before taking a short but scenic ride to St Rémy. This afternoon you can explore St Rémy or take an extra loop ride that goes through quaint medieval Provençal towns including Maillane, home to writer Frédéric Mistral, a proponent of Provençal culture and winner of the 1904 Nobel Prize for Literature.

DAY 3: Bicycle to Les Baux-de-Provence

Highlights: Les Baux, Roman ruins, Van Gogh sites

St. Rémy is where Van Gogh painted several of his most famous works during a year's residence in the local sanitarium. You'll appreciate the views that inspired him as we support a ride to Les-Baux-de-Provence and into the Alpilles hills. There is much to explore in St Rémy this afternoon including the Roman ruins of Glanum, Van Gogh's sanitarium and the great shopping in town.

DAY 4: Bicycle to St. Quentin la Poterie

Highlights: Pont du Gard, castle visit, ceramics of St. Quentin, olive mill visit

We'll start the day with an olive oil tasting at a local olive press located just a few kilometers outside St Rémy. On our ride today we will cross the Rhône at Tarascon where you can visit the perfectly preserved 15th-century castle. Our route will then continue north to the Pont du Gard which is arguably the most extraordinary Roman ruin in all of Europe. It dates to 20 B.C. when it was built to support the aqueduct that carried water from Uzès to the Roman town of Nîmes. Later this afternoon we'll arrive in St Quentin la Poterie a small town with a long tradition of pottery making going back to prehistoric times. The craftsmen of St. Quentin contributed their pottery making skills to decorate the Palais des Papes in Avignon in the 14th Century.

  • Distance: 64 km (40 mi)
  • Gain: 495 m (1624 ft)
  • Terrain: Rolling hills
  • Day Level: Day Level 2.5
  • Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
  • Lodging:

DAY 5: Rest day in St. Quentin la Poterie

Highlights: Optional bike ride to Uzès and local vineyards

We'll be in St Quentin again tonight, so you can decide whether you want to ride today, relax by the pool, or enjoy exploring the winding streets of St Quentin. We will also offer a shuttle into medieval Uzès for those who wish. If you chose to get out on your bike, we'll take a loop ride south to Uzès and ride through rolling vineyard country.

  • Distance: 42 km (26 mi)
  • Gain: 506 m (1660 ft)
  • Terrain: Rolling hills
  • Day Level: Day Level 2.0
  • Meals: Breakfast
  • Lodging:

DAY 6: Bicycle to Séguret

Highlights: Ceramics of St. Quentin, visit to Châteauneuf du Pape, Côtes du Rhône vineyards and villages

Today we head into the heart of the Côtes du Rhone vineyards with some of the most prestigious wines in the south of France including the renowned Châteauneuf-du-Pape. We'll have a beautiful ride through small villages and open countryside before arriving at Châteauneuf where you can get a cafe lunch on your own, or picnic at the castle, a former summer palace of the Avignon Popes. You can also partake in a wine tasting of your choice at any of the countless local wineries. Our route continues on to Séguret surrounded by vineyards and set against the foot of the Dentelles de Montmirail mountains- our little paradise for the next two nights.

  • Distance: 72 km (45 mi)
  • Gain: 769 m (2522 ft)
  • Terrain: Mostly flat
  • Day Level: Day Level 2.5
  • Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
  • Lodging:

DAY 7: Vaison-la-Romaine and Côtes-du-Rhône vineyards

Highlights: Roman vestiges and medieval castle in Vaison, picturesque wine villages (Sablet, Beaumes-de-Venise), optional climb up Mont Ventoux.

You can take a day off the bikes and relax at the hotel or pedal our loop ride to Vaison-la-Romaine and the nearby quaint villages known for their wines. Vaison offers some great insight into Roman and medieval life and architecture with its Roman ruins, archaeological museum, and imposing castle. The rest of the loop continues through wine country and Provençal villages with the giant Mont Ventoux set in the background. For those who want to push their limits there is also the opportunity to ride up to 100 km (62 miles) and ascend Mont Ventoux, the most illustrious Tour de France climb! You also have the option to take on Mont Ventoux (49 km) and forgo the loop ride. Regardless of what you decide it's guaranteed to be an amazing day!

Do the entire ride including Mont Ventoux: 90 km (56 miles) and 2103 meters (6898 feet) of climbing.

  • Distance: 53 km (33 mi)
  • Gain: 854 m (2801 ft)
  • Terrain: Hilly
  • Day Level: Day Level 3.5
  • Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
  • Lodging:

DAY 8: Tour ends with shuttle to Avignon TGV Train Station

Highlights: Bon Voyage!

We will shuttle you to the Avignon Train Station and send you on your way home, or to continue your travels!

  • Meals: Breakfast
Travel Information

Travel Information

Day 1: Arrival Information

Arrive in Arles

Lodging: Hotel Le Calendal

Meeting time 2 p.m. - on Day 1, meet your fellow cyclists and Tour Leaders at the Day 1 Hotel specified on the itinerary.

Note: As you are planning, remember that the hotels listed in our itineraries are our primary hotels and are - in rare cases - subject to change. Before you make arrangements, check with us if your tour departure is guaranteed. If your tour departure is out further than 6 months, please also check with us as there might be slight changes to the itinerary.

The below information will help you plan your arrival. For more tips or other routes, you might like Rome2Rio. The fare and timing information listed below is approximate.

We recommend flying into the the Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) in Paris or the Marseille Provence Airport (MRS)

How to get to Arles train station from CDG
  1. Airport shuttle to the Aéroport CDG 2 TGV station. Train station is located beneath the airport (5-20 min/no cost)
  2. Train from Paris Roissy Charles de Gaulle Airport to Arles. (train change in Avignon or Marseille) (3.5-4 hours/Fares vary)
How to get to Arles train station from MRS
  1. Airport shuttle bus from mp2 (platform 2) of the Marseille Airport to the "Marseille-Provence Airport - Vitrolles - TER" train station. (5 min/no cost)
  2. Train from the "Marseille-Provence Airport - Vitrolles - TER" to Arles (direction AVIGNON, not MARSEILLE) (30 min/fares vary - TER trains have a fixed price and don't need to be pre-booked). Be sure you choose a train that stops in Arles as there are also direct trains to Avignon. (The track is the closest one to the station entrance. For connection overview, See map)
  • Note: There are automated machines to purchase your TER train ticket at Vitrolles, but if you are more comfortable you can purchase from a human at the Marseille train ticket booth, which is just outside the airport to your right.
How to get to the Day 1 Hotel from Arles train station
  • Taxi from the Arles train station to the Day 1 Hotel (5 min/EUR 15-20)
  • Or walk 15 minutes. See map

Look up French train schedules and book tickets, if necessary, SNCF.com or Trainline.eu. Questions? See our information on taking trains in Europe here or ask us.

Day 8: Departure Information

Tour ends with shuttle to Avignon TGV Train Station

We offer a complimentary ExperiencePlus! shuttle from the ending hotel to the *Avignon TGV train station - Arrival at 10:00 a.m.

Reservations required. Please make your shuttle reservation by emailing us no later than 30 days prior to your tour start date

  • *Note: The Avignon TGV station is 6 km outside of Avignon center but is well-connected to the town center, if you are planning to spend time there.

The below information will help you plan your departure. For more tips or other routes, you might like Rome2Rio.

We recommend flying out of the Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) in Paris or the Marseille Provence Airport (MRS)

How to get to Marseille Provence Airport (MRS) from the Avignon TGV Train Station

  1. Train from Avignon TGV to Vitrolles Aéroport Marseille-Provence (Gare TER) train station. One change at Marseille Saint Charles. (1.5 hours/fares vary
  2. Airport shuttle from the Provence Airport (MRS)-Vitrolles train station to the airport. (5 min/no cost)
How to get to Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) from the Avignon TGV Train Station
  • Train from Avignon TGV to Paris Roissy Charles de Gaulle Airport. (2.5-3 hours/fares vary)

What's Included

For a full list of what's included before, during and after your bike tour, visit our What's Included page.

Pre-Trip Planning Checklist

To do right after you booked!

6 to 3 Months Prior to Tour Start Date

  • Check the online itinerary of your trip and review the arrival and departure information under the "Travel Information" tab to see meeting place and time, if a reservation on a complimentary ExperiencePlus! Shuttle (if applicable) is required, and other important information to help you plan your arrival and departure.
  • Reserve your flights after you know you have a confirmed tour departure. Please check with our office if you do not know if your trip is confirmed.
  • Book your pre and post-tour hotel nights.
  • 12 weeks before your tour begin your training program: https://www.experienceplus.com/blog/travel-planning/bicycle-tour-training/
  • Final payment is due 90 days prior to the tour start. Please refer to your Deposit Payment Invoice and the Final Payment Reminder e-mail you have received for detailed instructions.

6 to 2 Weeks Prior to Tour Start Date

Day of Your Flight

Get as much sleep on the plane as you can. Pack your one day of cycling gear in your carry-on. See you soon!

What to Expect on Tour

Bicycles

Your bike will be equipped with: a men's or women's saddle, a quick release style seat post adjustment, rear rack and expandable pack, pump, patch kit, spare tube, cable lock, cyclometer, rear lights, a water bottle cage (or two) and a water bottle (or two) and in some cases a bell. If you would like to bring your own pedals and shoes we recommend doing so—your tour leaders will install them during the bike fitting. We have flat pedals with or without cages available. For safety and hygiene reasons you are responsible for bringing a helmet.

Daysheets

Each day you'll receive a daysheet with information on the day's activities, meals and ride. These also include Tour Leader phone numbers, hotel information and interesting historical and cultural information about sites that you may want to stop and see along the route. Your Tour Leaders will also post daily announcements in the hotel lobby with information about sightseeing in town or restaurant recommendations for dinners on your own as well as important information about breakfast, luggage down and "arrows down" time.

Navigating on Tour

Each day we will provide you with a route map with the day's ride highlighted route. Of course, we also mark the route every day with our signature chalk dust arrows. Our arrows make navigating very easy—you may never need to look at the map! The arrows also allow you to ride at your own pace. There is no need to "keep up" with the group—this is your ride!

But what if it rains? What happens to the arrows? In a light rain, the arrows actually "set up" and become more permanent. In a heavy rain, they do wash away. If that happens, we'll re-group to cycle together for those who want to continue cycling while those who prefer to stay dry can shuttle.

For the tech-loving riders out there we offer the opportunity to download GPS tracks of most tour routes to your personal GPS device using RideWithGPS.com. Tracks are available upon request approximately three to four weeks prior to the departure.

Van Support

The van carries luggage and supports cyclists. It also has water, fruit and snacks. Though the van has snacks, we encourage you to stop and enjoy markets and find your own favorite local specialty.

Hotels

We have carefully chosen all of our accommodations for their charm and location. They are typically small, family run hotels that offer you a glimpse into the local culture.

We prefer hotels near interesting sites in the center of town located along the best cycling route in the area. Because many of the hotels are small not all of the rooms will be exactly the same. We keep this in mind and do our best to distribute rooms fairly by the end of the tour. Our itinerary lists our primary hotels. On rare occasions, listed hotels are subject to change.

Meals and Restaurants

Breakfasts: we work hard to arrange complete breakfasts but some hotels still serve continental style breakfasts; cycling is energy intensive so we do recommend you plan for a morning or mid-morning snack on the road at a local café or market.

Water is OK in almost all hotels and in country fountains; if there is a problem, we will advise you.

We'll recommend lunch locations en route and most itineraries include a few group picnics. We limit the number of picnics so you don't feel pressured to be at a certain place in the middle of your ride.

Dinners together are often pre-planned and pre-ordered. We'll ask you prior to your trip if you have special dietary requirements. Preplanned meals allow us to provide a variety of regional specialties and facilitate efficient service. Water, wine and beer are included.

Tipping Your Tour Leader Team

If you feel your tour leader team has demonstrated great expertise and service, common practice within the travel industry is to tip. Tipping is voluntary and greatly appreciated, and gratuity amounts vary widely. Should you decide to leave a tip, as a guideline, we suggest 5% of the tour cost per traveler – this for the entire tour leader team, not each Tour Leader. If you’d like to show your gratitude for your Tour Leaders’ excellent service you can give the tip to any member of the tour leader team, as they share it evenly. In order to avoid social tensions, we encourage you to tip as individuals and not as a group. If you feel your Tour Leaders did not quite meet your expectations, then we would like to know about it. You will also have the opportunity to leave your comments in our evaluation survey which we email to you after your trip.

Photos

By reserving space on tour, you agree that ExperiencePlus! Bicycle Tours may use, re-use and reproduce any images, photos or videos that you send to us, or that are taken by our guides and/or other travelers of you individually or in a group, in any medium, including but not limited to print, electronic media, or Internet, free of charge and without your right to inspection, for promoting and publicizing our travel products and services worldwide. If you do not want us to use any images of you that are taken by us or other participants during the tour, you must inform us or your tour leader in writing at the start of the tour.

Map

Map

Reviews

Reviews

  • The Provence region was even better than we had hoped. I enjoyed the ancient towns, castles and Roman ruins and meeting the French people.

    Ron J.
    Windsor,
    CA
  • Great cycling, food and wine. Provence is beautiful , the local people are so charming and friendly.

    Jane M., Dallas, TX
  • The best way to see and experience Provence - scenery, history, food, wine! Thank you!

    Dennis D., Calgary, Alberta - June 2017
  • Great tour. Excellent guides, great hotels, routes were scenic. Felt taken care of the entire time. Love the arrows. Takes all the guess work out of following the routes.

    Richard D., Atascdero, CA
  • I really loved the Provence trip!!

    Susan C., Charlotte, NC -June 2017
  • Bicycling on the quiet lanes through the olive groves and vineyards and then when we bicycled in the areas where we came around a bend to see a beautiful castle a top a hill. It must be said that having the chalk markings on the route is incredible. I love Experience Plus for that. Of course, the food and wine experiences too.

    Josephine C., Hilo, HI
  • This was our 1st bike tour & we are ready to book another!! Terrific vacation

    Phil C., Littleton, CO
  • This was a TERRIFIC way to see this particular area! I am inspired to take more and longer cycling trips. Tour support was excellent!! LOVED those arrows and the generally open-scheduled days. Thanks everyone, for a wonderful adventure!

    Leslie Z., Alameda, CA
  • It was a wonderful trip -- I''m talking about ExperiencePlus! to all my friends! Thank you.

    Turdy D., Harbor Springs, MI
  • I'm hooked on bike touring! I loved all the small French towns that we visited - places I never would have found if I was on my own. I liked being able to get away from the tourist crowds and really experience Provence!

    Mike O.
    Florissant, MO
  • France is my favorite place to cycle, and I have done trips in many of its regions. Plus, my first trip with Exp+ in ''99 was Provence, but the itinerary is now quite different. I loved it once again 18 years later. Who knows what lies ahead - for now I''ll just continue to savor my Provence bike tour!

    Nancy S., West Newton, MA - September 2018
  • Wonderful time in Van Gogh, Wine and Olive country. Fantastic food and beautiful vistas! It was another wonderful trip...so happy to have the next one already on the calendar so I can look forward to it! Thank you very much for all you do to keep this level of offering!

    Erika G., Sugar Hill, GA - September 2018
  • A fabulous experience! Thank you.

    Ellen L., Boulder, CO
  • One of the best vacations I''ve ever had!

    Aimee C., Kalispell, MT - June 2017
  • If you like to cycle then you''d love this tour. I loved being able to stop and explore at my own pace.

    Beth A., Ottawa, ON
  • What was your favorite experience on this trip? There were many memorable moments and experiences - pehaps my birthday picnic beside the river looking up at the Pont du Gard - and then cycling across it - was a favourite. I also enjoyed the many interactions with French folks along the way who were good humoured and patient with my fractured French.

    Diane C., Gabriola, BC, Canada
  • Bikes are excellent, guides outstanding in all ways, great staff in the office and the trip well planned for hotels, routes, food, etc. We can''t believe the amount and quality of personal help and care we received from all the office staff!!! We love Provence.

    David B., Fort Collins, CO - September 2017
  • We returned to Cheyenne last night after a wonderful trip and wanted to thank you for a truly great trip.

    Sandra S. & Bob P., Cheyenne, WY
  • Wonderful biking, fabulous landscapes, picturesque villages and towns, extraordinary food and wine. I cannot wait until my next tour with ExperiencePlus!

    Madonna M., Eugene, OR
  • Fabulous mix of biking through villages of Provence and special cultural adventures planned by people who know what they are doing.

    Sherry B., Newton, MA
  • Thank you so much for a wonderful experience!

    Lisa E., Fort Collins, CO - September 2017
  • It is one of the great joys of our lives to be able to do your tours.

    June W.
    Saint Paul, MN
  • I loved the trip in Provence and my bike. Do you ever sell your bikes?

    Marci R., San Rafael, CA
  • What was your favorite experience on this trip? The last stop - accommodations, food and wine, riding routes. A fun biking vacation.

    Carol D., Fort Collins, CO - September 2017
  • We look forward to our next tour with Experience Plus! We enjoyed the people we met on the Provence tour. A very compatible group, the guides were excellent and the routes were superb!

    Ludmila S., Prospect, KY
  • It was fabulous! I have never been on a tour before but I have been encouraging others to have this experience.

    Alan G., Rockford, IL
  • Everything was perfect, I wouldn't change a thing!

    Marilea S.
    San Diego, CA
  • Well organized, personable and friendly leaders, awesome rural bike routes with stunning scenery, quality accommodations.

    John B., Oakland, CA
  • What was your favorite experience on this trip? The hilltop towns of the Luberon and the variety the routes provided day to day. At times it felt as if we were riding in a totally different country from day to day.

    Gayle R., Whitefish Bay, WI
  • In ten years of active travel, with a variety of companies, this was among the best trips we have taken. We were simply stunned by Provence. And our tour leaders, being native Europeans, were superlative. Just the best. Period.

    Paul R., Baltimore, MD
  • I had high expectations for this trip, and it exceeded my expectations.

    Bonnie J., Loveland, CO
  • A wonderful trip with terrific guides, fantastic lodging, good bikes, fun and interesting people, and good connection to local culture.

    Ann R., Winona, MN
  • How would you describe this tour to a friend? Fun, beautiful, stimulating, cultural, enriching...

    Gary F., Ft Collins, CO
  • This is my first bike tour and my first trip to France and I loved both! It was so nice to take a trip and have someone else take care of most of the details. I look forward to another bike tour in France in the very near future...thanks for the wonderful experience!

    Prati W.
    New Berlin, WI
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