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
Jun 23-Jul 3, 2018
USD$4700
USD$650
Guaranteed to Go!
Sep 1-11, 2018
USD$4900
USD$650
Guaranteed to Go!
May 11-21, 2019
USD$4900
USD$650
 Book by November 15 and save $200!
Jun 22-Jul 2, 2019
USD$4900
USD$650
 Book by November 15 and save $200!
Aug 31-Sep 10, 2019
USD$4900
USD$650
Book by November 15 and save $200!

* 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.

Trip At-A-Glance

  • Length / 11 Days
  • Avg. Distance / 61 km (37 miles) per riding day
  • Difficulty / 301
  • Countries / France
  • Price / From USD$4700
More Photos
  • Tour Summary
  • Daily Itinerary
  • Map
  • Reviews
  • Similar Tours
Tour Summary

Daily Ride Summary

Distance

1 No cycling today.
2 37 mi / 60 km
3 29 mi / 47 km
4 59 mi / 95 km
5 34 mi / 55 km
6 54 mi / 87 km
7 49 mi / 78 km
8 28 mi / 45 km
9 54 mi / 87 km
10 34 mi / 55 km
11 No cycling today.
  • 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 wind mill visit

    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.

  • Countries
    France
  • Begin/End
    Nimes / Perpignan
  • Arrive / Depart
    Paris (CDG), Marseille Provence Airport (MRS) /Paris (CDG), Perpignan (PGF), Barcelona (BCN)
  • Total Distance
    609-621 km (326 - 383 miles)
  • Avg. Distance
    61 km (37 miles) per riding day
  • Difficulty
    301
    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.
  • Terms
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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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
Map

Map

Reviews

Reviews

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

    David G., New York, NY
  • Wonderful cycling, amazing cities, great wine!

    Terri R., Cherry Hills Village, CO - June 2017
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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 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
  • This cycle tour is about natural beauty and great rides. The food is delicious, too.

    Mary Ann D., Pleasanton, CA - May 2017
  • 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
  • Provincial France with lots of hills, wheat, and grapes. Great hotels, food and wine.

    Russ b., Arcadia, CA
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • Best tour EVER!

    Robert P., Bellevue, WA
  • The best ExperiencePlus! tour I have taken for route, scenery, diversity. Fantastic rides every day.

    Dick S., Palo Alto, CA
  • 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
  • Another great tour with Experience Plus - impossible to consider another company!

    Heather B., Kirkcaldy, Scotland - June 2017
  • Best vacation ever, great people, incredible scenery and relaxing.

    Debbie F., Washougal, WA
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