- Trip Outline
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Two thousand years ago the Romans established their first province outside Italy, hence Provence. The Roman Remains in Provence are the most striking outside Italy, and include beautifully preserved amphitheaters in Nimes, Aries and Orange. Most famous of all is the aqueduct at Le Pont du Gard.
Our cycling tour also explores interesting wine regions including Chateauneuf du Pape, Tavel, rated by many the finest rose wine in France, and Les Baux de Provence, one of France's newest Appellations.
Our last three days are spent in the Luberon National Park, made famous in Peter Mayle's book 'A Year In Provence'.
A year in Provence painted a picture of mouthwatering Provancale cuisine featuring fresh herbs, olive oil and Garlic, and of beautiful Leberon Hills. We'll sample it all and visit the resurgent spring at Vaucuse, source of the river Sorgue, as well as the ruined fortress as Les Baux-de-provence which sits on top of a plateau surrounded by a 200 meter vertical drop.
It's hilly, but this is the most beautiful part of Provence - worth every pedal stroke.
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Arrive at the hotel in Villeneuve Les Avignon. Most people arrive in Avignon by TGV either from Paris or from London, although there are some direct flights to Avignon and to Nimes. Our first night is spent at the Residence les Cedres with our host, Christophe.
Avignon - St. Rémy de Provence (22 miles / 35 km)
An easy day to get into the swing of things. We'll take advantage of a cycle path to follow the River Rhone almost as far as Aramon, where we cross the river and continue our way to St Rémy de Provence. In St Rémy we'll visit the Roman town of Glanum just outside the town. Dating from 27 BC, Glanum was part of the Romanisation of Provence, but was abandoned 300 years later after the town was overrun by the german Alamanni tribe. By the time the population left Glanum for St Remy, just a mile away, they had built two huge monuments, a mausoleum and a triumphal arch. The town itself, with its underground water systems broken and blocked, became submerged in mud and scree sediments from the nearby Alpilles, so until the 1920s Glanum had disappeared, there were just two huge Roman monuments next to the road which is now the D5. It wasn't until 1921 that anybody realised that on the other side of the road was a hidden Roman town. It's great, fascinating, and we'll go and have a look.
On the way we'll pass the asylum where Vincent Van Gogh voluntarily committed himself after his tempestuous time in Arles. St Remy itself is a very pretty town, lots of nice bars and restaurants. We'll stay at the Castelet des Alpilles, and we'll eat in the heart of St Rémy.
St. Rémy to Cavaillon (31 miles / 50 km)
We set off due west, as if we were headed back towards the Rhone, but we turn onto the D27 to cycle through the Alpilles to Les Baux de Provence. This must be the most beautiful stretch of cycling on any Chain Gang tour. This road is reason enough for somebody to invent the bike. We follow the little river, the Gaudre de Valmouriane, winding through spectacular scenery as the Alpilles begin to build either side of us. Truly beautiful.
We've a decent climb into Les Baux, a fascinating, ruined fortress. Ruled over for centuries by (alleged) descendants of Balthazar, one of the biblical 3 Kings , this fortress was able to wreak havoc throughout Provence and as far afield as Toulouse. Eventually it became part of France, but following a rebellion was destroyed by none other than Cardinal Richelieu of Three Musketeers fame. Ten years later it was given to Monaco (the current Marquise of Les Baux is Princess Caroline of Monaco) and in the 19th century was the site for the discovery of aluminium ore, hence 'bauxite'.
Astonishingly, Les Baux became such a backwater that it effectively disappeared. Rediscovered after World War II, it's been excavated and restored to what we see today - a ruined fortress surrounded by tourist shops! Don't let me put you off, Les Baux is fascinating and has some of the best views you could possibly imagine. Today we'll visit an olive farm at Maussane Domaine Plaines Marguerite, and after lunch we'll go wine-tasting at Domaine de la Vallongue, proud producers of AOP Les Baux de Provence, one of France's newest Appellations.
Tonight we finish our day in Cavaillon in a delightful old quarter of the town at the Hotel de Parc.
Cavaillon to Monteux (30 miles / 48 km)
Having left the Alpilles behind, we cycle into the Lubéron. Today, there is a memorable hill!
First of all we'll visit the beautiful village of Gordes, where we'll take a break and enjopy this delightful village. Then it's away into the Lubéron, climbing to visit the iconic Abbey de Senanque - even the Michelin guide calls the Abbey 'iconic', so I'm on safe ground. Leaving the Abbey we're still climbing a beautiful road through stunning Lubérion scenery, and we'll earn our spectacular descent into Carpentras.
We stay just outside Carperntras in Monteux, and we'll enjoy stunning views of Mont Ventoux, The Giant of Provence, which we definitely DON'T have to cycle up!
Monteux Roundtrip (27 miles / 43 km)
Tonight we're returning to Monteux, so you get a day off packing! And today we explore some fabulous wines from some of the best appellations in Provence.
There's some more climbing today, but less than yesterday, and the scenery is beautiful. On our little loop today we'll cycle through the appellations of Beaumes de Venise, Gigondas and Vacqueyras, after Chateauneuf du Pape probably the best appellations in the Cotes du Rhone region. We'll visit the Domaine de Durban (AOP Bwaumes de Venise) and Caveau Gabriel Meffre (AOP Gigondas). Today is a beautiful ride, nice and leisurely, very pretty scenery, and we'll learn a lot about some very good wines.
Mounteux to Orange (18 miles / 29 km)
We leave the hills of the Lubéron behind. Today is a day of two halves. In the morning we stay on tine roads as we head towards Courthezon, and we'll visit a very interesting vineyard, the Caves Jamet. We'll learn a lot about the rukes of appellations - and not all of it good! The motorway cut this vineyard in half, and as a result the owner produces Chateauneuf du Pape, and Vin de France (the lowest classification available). It's the same wine! He's a fascinating and funny guy, you'll enjoy Caves Jamet. In the afternoon we arrive in Orange. Until recently this town was home to the French Foreign Legion, but it's more famous as a retirement town for retired Roman soldiers, and today boasts a truly spectacular Roman Theatre - we'll visit before dinner.
We'll also have a look at the huge triumphal arch that dates back to the reign of Augustus. The Theatre and the Arch together are classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Orange to Avignon (22 miles / 35 km)
A pretty flat day, just a short climb at the end of the day. Leaving Orange, we've a short ride on back roads to the world-famous wine village of Chateauneuf du Pape. It's a thriving place, completely devoted to its famous wines, and we'll visit the Domaine de Nalys to find out what the fuss is about. We'll also learn about olives in their beautiful olive groves, where we'll picnic when weather permits.
After lunch, we'll cycle along a series of islands in the Rhone as far as Avignon. We'll have plenty of time to explore Avignon, it's a wonderful place. Completely surrounded by its 3-mile wall. In the 14th Century, fleeing chaotic violence in Rome, Pope Clement V moved the papacy to Avignon, which became the base for a total of 7 popes. One of these, Benedict XII, supervised the completion of the largest gothic building in France, the vast, fortified Papal palace. We'll have time for a look round, but in fact the most spectacular aspect of the palace is to view it from the outside and marvel at the sheer size of the thing. There's a marvellous atmosphere in the centre of Avignon, open squares full of cafes, restaurants and street performers.
Leaving Avignon, we cross the Rhone for one last time and climb the short hill back to Villeneuve les Avignon and the Residence les Cedres. That's it, one final dinner together at the Hotel Les Cedres, and tomorrow we part company. Temporarily, I hope.
Homeward bound. The tour ends after breakfast.
- 7 nights accommodation in village hotels with breakfasts
- Seven dinners (group tour only)
- Guide cycling with group (group tour only)
- Luggage transfer
- Water bottle
- Cycling jersey
- Waterproof jacket
- Maps and route details
- GPS files available
Option of set transfer to and from Avignon on arrival and departure
We use Trek 7300 FX Hybrid 24 speed touring bike with aluminium frame and Shimano gear system.
On this tour the guide cycles with you, however each person has their own route details. There is no “sag” wagon as such but we can arrange to collect the weary!!
The maximum group size on these tours is fifteen people and one, sometimes two guides.
Comfortable cycling clothing – padded cycling shorts and cycling gloves are invaluable.
Training shoes are fine for cycling.
Hat, sunglasses, suntan lotion, swimwear.
Casual clothes for evening. You may be grateful for something warm with long sleeves.
Helmets, though not obligatory in France, are highly recommended. To be sure of comfort we suggest you bring your own helmet, however, in the event that you need a helmet, they are provided.
We had a great time on the Provence ride! Mike's leadership skills were great, nice group of people, beautiful place. Overall, a very well organized trip.
John Ahern & Patricia Kent (Provene Group, 2017)
This was my first experience with a bike tour, so I really didn't know what to expect, but I had a blast. The accommodations were lovely. And the meals wonderful. I would definitely do another tour.
Candase Dunn (Provence group, 2017)
We had an absolutely delightful time on the Provence cycling tour. Pete McGee was our guide, and he was second to none. Really fantastic! The itinerary and the scenery were perfect, the accommodations were great. Can't say enough good things.
Dorin C. (Provence group tour 2014)
We loved the tour. The countryside was beautiful. Food excellent. Hotels were excellent. Really enjoyed our tour guide.
Dr. Stewart (Provence group tour 2014)
We had a terrific time in Provence. The pace each day was so enjoyable. The accommodations were fine. The food was fantastic. My bike was in great shape. Pete is a hoot, and he really makes it fun for everyone!
Karen Kellerman & Peter Arakas (Provence group 2015)
2022 GROUP TOUR
€1,810.00 per person sharing
€2,215.00 for single occupancy (if travelling on your own, we will endeavour to find a roommate for you)
2022 SELF GUIDED TOUR
€1,175.00 per person sharing
€1,580.00 for single occupancy (if travelling with others)
Self Guided Tour Information
Self guided option not available at the moment
How to get to the start point:
The closest airports are Marseille Provence or Lyon airport.
If arriving by train to Provence:
You will be met on Saturday(group) off the mid-afternoon train arriving at Avignon at 17:08 from London (via Ville), or at 17:08 from Paris and Charles de Gaulle airport or 17:18 from Paris Gare de Lyon and brought to the starting point at Les Eyzies.
At the end of the tour you will be brought back to the train station in time for the 09:14 departure to Charles de Gaulle airport (Paris), and later departures for Gare de Lyon and London (via Lille). Both local transfers are included in the tour price.
Note: On the group tour the times shown are the only transfers we arrange, on self Guided tours you can arrive at any time at our designated train stations.
For more details please have a look at the tour dossier. As always please contact us in the office for more information (firstname.lastname@example.org).
tour is sure to check all the boxes from cuisine to culture; a fabulous way to holiday in the beautiful French countryside.
Day 1 & 7: Hotel Residence Les Cedres
Day 2: Hotel Le Glacier
Day 3: Hotel St. Genies
Day 4: Hotel De Provence
Day 5: Hotel Castelet des Alpilles
Day 6: Sable's D'Ocre