Bicycling the South of France Plus!

Bicycling the South of France Plus!

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 the South of France tour, which shortens this itinerary by 3 days.***

Tour Dates & Prices

Date
Price
Private Room Fee
Note
May 16-26, 2019
USD$4900
USD$650
Sold Out - Wait List Available
Jun 22-Jul 2, 2019
USD$4900
USD$650
 
Aug 31-Sep 10, 2019
USD$4900
USD$650
 

* 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 / 11 Days
  • Total Distance / 609-621 km (326 - 383 miles)
  • Avg. Distance / 61 km (37 miles) per riding day
  • Tour Level / 3.5
  • Countries / France
  • Begin/End / Nimes / Perpignan
  • Price / From USD$4900
More Photos
  • Tour Summary
  • Daily Itinerary
  • Travel Information
  • Map
  • Reviews
  • Similar Tours
Tour Summary

Tour Summary

  • 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; 10 breakfasts, 7 dinners with wine; oyster tasting; guided visit Carcassonne; wine tasting and visit of artisanal bakery; 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 (CDG), Marseille Provence Airport (MRS) /Paris (CDG), Perpignan (PGF), Barcelona (BCN)
  • Overall Tour Level
  • Daily Ride Summary

    Day

    **Distance/Gain
    mi/ftkm/m

    Terrain

    Day Level

    Notes

    1
    Test ride
    2
    60km / 771m
    Rolling hills
    difficulty level 2.5
    3
    47km / 868m
    Very hilly
    difficulty level 3.5
    4
    95km / 1724m
    Very hilly
    difficulty level 5.0
    5
    55km / 514m
    Rolling hills
    difficulty level 2.0
    6
    87km / 520m
    Mostly flat
    difficulty level 2.5
    7
    78km / 575m
    Rolling hills
    difficulty level 2.5
    8
    45km / 580m
    Hilly
    difficulty level 3.0
    9
    87km / 1818m
    Mountainous
    difficulty level 3.5
    10
    55km / 673m
    Hilly
    difficulty level 3.0
    11
    Last day

    Tour Level Note: Flat rides and some gentle climbs on Days 2, 6, 7, and 8. Days 3, 4, 5 have some more challenging climbs in the Cevennes Mountains. The final two riding days are in the foothills of the Pyrenees.

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

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 Costières 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: 60 km (37 mi)
  • Gain: 771 m (2529 ft)
  • Terrain: Rolling hills
  • Day Level: Day Level 2.5
  • Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
  • Lodging:

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 mi)
  • Gain: 868 m (2847 ft)
  • Terrain: Very hilly
  • Day Level: Day Level 3.5
  • Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
  • Lodging:

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).

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: 55 km (34 mi)
  • Gain: 514 m (1686 ft)
  • Terrain: Rolling hills
  • Day Level: Day Level 2.0
  • Meals: Breakfast
  • Lodging:

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: 87 km (54 mi)
  • Gain: 520 m (1706 ft)
  • Terrain: Mostly flat
  • Day Level: Day Level 2.5
  • Meals: Breakfast
  • Lodging:

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: 78 km (49 mi)
  • Gain: 575 m (1886 ft)
  • Terrain: Rolling hills
  • Day Level: Day Level 2.5
  • Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
  • Lodging:

DAY 8: Loop ride out of Carcassonne

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.

  • Distance: 45 km (28 mi)
  • Gain: 580 m (1902 ft)
  • Terrain: Hilly
  • Day Level: Day Level 3.0
  • Meals: Breakfast
  • Lodging:

DAY 9: Bicycle from Carcassonne to Cucugnan

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.

  • Distance: 87 km (54 mi)
  • Gain: 1818 m (5963 ft)
  • Terrain: Mountainous
  • Day Level: Day Level 3.5
  • Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
  • Lodging:

DAY 10: Bicycle to Perpignan

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.

  • Distance: 55 km (34 mi)
  • Gain: 673 m (2207 ft)
  • Terrain: Hilly
  • Day Level: Day Level 3.0
  • Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
  • Lodging:

DAY 11: Tour ends in Perpignan

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
Travel Information

Travel Information

Day 1: Arrival Information

Arrive in Nîmes

Lodging: Novotel Atria Nimes Centre

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 Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) or into Marseille (MRS).

Flying into CDG

  1. Airport shuttle to the Aéroport CDG 2 TGV station (located beneath the airport) (5-15 min/no cost)
  2. Train from Aéroport CDG 2 TGV to Nimes (3.5 hours/fares vary)
  3. Taxi from Nimes central station to Day 1 Hotel (5 min/EUR 15)

Flying into MRS

  1. Airport shuttle to the Marseille Saint Charles Train Station (25 min/EUR 8.30)
  2. Train from Marseille St. Charles to Nimes (1.15 hours/fares vary)
  3. Taxi from Nimes central station to Day 1 Hotel (5 min/EUR 15)

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 11: Departure Information

Tour ends in Perpignan

The tour ends on the final day after breakfast

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

We recommend flying out of Perpignan (PGF)

  • City Bus to the airport (40 min/EUR 2)
  • or taxi from the ending hotel to the airport (15 min/EUR 20)

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

  • Best tour EVER!

    Robert P., Bellevue, WA
  • Good balance of riding, staying off the main roads, finding the hidden gems, good food, cultural sites - it''''''''s a great package.

    Jay R., Cherry Hills Village, CO - June 2017
  • Best vacation ever, great people, incredible scenery and relaxing.

    Debbie F., Washougal, WA
  • Fantastic tour leaders! Love the chalk arrows. Perfect way to facilitate the perfect tour. The best way to see a new country. We will be making ExperiencePlus our vacation platform. The chalk arrows make the experience because they show that the route was curated same-day by someone who cares about you. The best travel experience ever and would recommend to everyone. We''ll be back!

    Kristen L., Cambridge, MA - September 2017
  • It was a wonderful tour. I enjoyed the company of the guides, the other guests, the beautiful cities and countryside, the polite drivers in France, the friendliness of the people we met during the tour, the food and wine. We had a great time.

    Margaret M., Seattle, WA
  • The only vacation I can eat and drink as much as I want and come back home in better shape... Wish I could do a trip every 6 months. Challenging and beautiful! So many different things to see and experience. Loved it!

    Cheri M., Fort Collins, CO - June 2018
  • Another great tour with Experience Plus - impossible to consider another company!

    Heather B., Kirkcaldy, Scotland - June 2017
  • Wonderful cycling, amazing cities, great wine!

    Terri R., Cherry Hills Village, CO - June 2017
  • 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
  • Incredibly scenic riding through an gorgeous region of France. The riding will challenge you. The food, wine, cultural experiences and people of this region will reward you. Thank you for another world class cycling adventure. We had a blast!

    Dave S., Fort Collins, CO - September 2017
  • This cycle tour is about natural beauty and great rides. The food is delicious, too.

    Mary Ann D., Pleasanton, CA - May 2017
  • The best ExperiencePlus! tour I have taken for route, scenery, diversity. Fantastic rides every day.

    Dick S., Palo Alto, CA
  • A challenging, very scenic bike ride on less traveled rural routes and bike paths through an historic area of southern France. There were so many things I liked and will remember about this tour that when my touring days have ended, I think it will be near the top of my list of favorites.

    Rich T., New Britain, CT
  • Excellent route. Diverse, distinct regions. ExperiencePlus! does a great job selecting scenic bike-friendly roads.

    David G., New York, NY
  • It was an amazing bike tour with beautiful scenery, ancient Roman and Medieval ruins. Some climbing but not too difficult. The tour guides - Jo and Stephane- were excellent and very helpful. I loved the variety of the landscape we traveled through - forest, mountains, plains, and seacoast. It was a very relaxing 10 days of riding. When it ended, I was sad, and wanted to continue the ride with the 9 other people. They were fun to ride with and it was a dream vacation. I did not want it to end.

    Bob J., Fort Collins, CO - September 2017
  • Provincial France with lots of hills, wheat, and grapes. Great hotels, food and wine.

    Russ b., Arcadia, CA
  • One of the best holidays that I have had.

    Danny G., Auckland, New Zealand - September 2018
  • How would you describe this tour to a friend? Beautiful but fattening. Thanks for coming up with such great tours.

    Richard H., Raleigh, NC - May 2017
  • This tour is more about the biking than the cultural and historical aspects of the area. The biking was both challenging and exhilarating - loved it! We have now been on five Experience Plus tours, and we loved them all. We can not even choose a favorite since they were all so wonderful.

    Ellen L., Boulder, CO
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