Bicycling the South of France

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.***

Tour Dates & Prices

Date
Price
Private Room Fee
Note
Jun 23-30, 2018
USD$3700
USD$550
Guaranteed to Go!
Sep 1-8, 2018
USD$3900
USD$550
Guaranteed to Go!
May 11-18, 2019
USD$3900
USD$550
 Book by November 15 and save $200!
Jun 22-29, 2019
USD$3900
USD$550
 Book by November 15 and save $200!
Aug 31-Sep 7, 2019
USD$3900
USD$550
 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 / 8 Days
  • Avg. Distance / 62 km (38 miles) per riding day
  • Difficulty / 301
  • Countries / France
  • Price / From USD$3700
More Photos
  • Tour Summary
  • Daily Itinerary
  • Map
  • Reviews
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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 No cycling today.
  • Highlights
    Canal du Midi, Nimes, Bamboo Forest Reserve, Carcassonne, Great bicycle rides, Languedoc wines
  • Includes
    8 days, 7 nights' accommodation; 7 breakfasts, 5 dinners with wine; oyster tasting; guided visit of Carcassonne;

    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 / Carcassonne
  • Arrive / Depart
    Paris (CDG), Nimes Airport (FNI), Marseille Provence Airport (MRS) / Paris (CDG), Tolouse (TLS)
  • Total Distance
    421 - 431 km (260 - 266 miles)
  • Avg. Distance
    62 km (38 miles) per riding day
  • Difficulty
    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
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: 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.***

  • Meals: Breakfast
Map

Map

Reviews

Reviews

  • 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
  • Thanks for the great trip!

    Ray T., Saratoga, CA - June 2017
  • 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
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