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
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.

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Trip At-A-Glance

  • Length / 8 Days
  • Total Distance / 421 - 431 km (260 - 266 miles)
  • Avg. Distance / 62 km (38 miles) per riding day
  • Tour Level / 3.0
  • Countries / France
  • Begin/End / Nimes / Carcassonne
  • Price / From USD$3900
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  • Tour Summary
  • Daily Itinerary
  • Travel Information
  • Map
  • Reviews
  • Similar Tours
Tour Summary

Tour Summary

  • 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.

  • Arrive / Depart
    Paris (CDG), Nimes Airport (FNI), Marseille Provence Airport (MRS) / Paris (CDG), Tolouse (TLS)
  • 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
    Last day

    Tour Level Note: 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.

    **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: 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
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 8: Departure Information

Tour ends in Carcassonne

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 Toulouse (TLS). Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG) is about 6-8 hours away by train.

Flying out of Toulouse:

  1. Taxi from the ending hotel to the train station (10 min/EUR 20)
  2. Train from Carcassonne to Toulouse Matabiau (1 hour/Fares vary)
  3. Tisseo Shuttle Bus from Toulouse Matabiau to Tolouse Airport, runs every 20 minutes (30 min/EUR 8)

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 comes with a pack for the rear rack, lock, cyclometer (bicycle computer), a spare tube and patch kit and pump, a rear light and in some places 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

  • 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
  • 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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