Provence Backroads

tours / Cycling

Highlights

  • Cycling through the stunning Provence past olive groves and vineyards
  • Exploring the great towns of Arles, St Remy and Tarascon
  • Experiencing the timelessness of the landscapes made famous by Van Gogh
  • Enjoying the exceptional cuisine for which the region is famous
  • Soaking up the hospitality of small family run hotels

Tour description provided by World Expeditions

Inland Provence is a cycling paradise, with tiny villages linked by quiet back roads. This cycle journey offers a great insight into French village life and an opportunity to sample the mouth-watering gastronomic delights of the region. We explore the historic relics - from prehistoric to Roman times, and there is plenty of time to soak up both the sights and sample the wine and produce of the Cotes du Rhone and greater Provence. Our route takes us along country lanes, ancient Roman roads and deserted hilltop passes. Travelling through vineyards, olive groves and sleepy villages we follow the region's rivers and mountain ranges. Splendid churches, medieval castles and fascinating Roman sites along the way provide frequent stops. We explore picture book Montagnette villages including St Remy de Provence, the birthplace of Nostradamus.

What's included

  • 7 breakfasts, 7 dinners (does not include drinks) – breakfasts are continental style and generally consist of croissants, breads, jams, cheese, yoghurt, coffee, tea and juices. dinner will consist of 3 courses which usually include some regional specialties. there are usually, but not always, 3 choices for each course.
  • Dinners are based on the basic set menu available at the restaurant. these are usually of a high standard and often reflective of the local cuisine. however, it is usually possible to upgrade to the a-la-carte menu or a more superior set menu for an additional cost. such an arrangement must be made directly with the hotel or restaurant.
  • 7 nights accommodation in 2 star hotels on a twinshare basis. all rooms have private facilities.
  • 21 speed bike equipped with luggage carrier, rear panniers, pump, anti-theft device and repair kit. helmets are provided.
  • Luggage transfer from hotel to hotel
  • Detailed route instructions and maps
  • Tourist information pack

Itinerary

Day 1 Arrival in Graveson or Barbentane
The neighbouring towns of Graveson and Barbentane offer a great beginning to your cycle trip in Provence, just a 15minute taxi ride from Avignon Rail station. On arrival at your hotel, relax and enjoy the gardens and in most cases, the swimming pool. You can also wander into the nearby town. During the afternoon our bike specialist will deliver your bike and make any necessary adjustments. Overnight hotel.
Day 2 Cycle to Tarascon (25km)
After breakfast, begin cycling to Tarascon. Depending on your hotel the previous night you may cycle through the foothills of the Alpilles to reach Tarascon on the Rhone River or alternatively via the Abbey of St Michel de Friogolet. Whichever route you are taking this day is full of superb scenery taking in typical villages of Provence. If you arrive in Tarascon on Tuesday, this is market day and well worth spending some time in these markets to check out the local specialties. The castle in Tarascon is one of the best preserved Chateaux in France, once home to Count Rene d’Anjou, the King of Provence. The Chateaux has an excellent display of tapestries and earthenware jars. The Musee des tissues Souleiado (fabric museum) is also worth exploring. Across the river are some great 17th and 18th century houses. Our comprehensive guide notes will provide further tips for exploring this pretty town. Evening meal and accommodation in a 2-star hotel in the centre of Tarascon.
Day 3 To Fontvieille or Arles (42 km)
Today our cycle takes us north into rugged and rocky scenery close to the town of Fontvieille. Here you can see the windmills (including Daudet’s mill – as described in the short stories ‘Lettres de mon Loulin’ written by Alphonse Daudet in 1869), some interesting churches and the Musee de Daudet. Evening meal and accommodation in a 2-star hotel with swimming pool just outside the village, or a country hotel near to Arles.
Day 4 To Les Baux-de-Provence (20 km)
Today’s cycle is short, giving you time to take in your own personal exploration of the area. There are some great museums in the village including the History Museum and the Olive Museum. Evening meal and accommodation in a 2-star hotel in Les Baux.
Day 5 To Saint Rémy-de-Provence (12km)
From Les Baux, return to Maussane along a back road from which there are gorgeous views of the Alpilles and then continue to Saint Rémy. The year before his death, Vincent van Gogh spent time in an asylum in this town and also in nearby Arles. The colours and light were an inspiration in his paintings including the famous “Pont de Langlois” – a bridge in Arles. Other well known artists that have been attracted to Provence include Picasso, Gauguin, Matisse and Cézanne. There is ample opportunity to explore the delightful town of St Remy, including the house where Nostradamus was born. Evening meal and accommodation in a 2-star hotel in the village.
Day 6 In Saint Rémy-de-Provence
From Saint Rémy the trail follows part of the ancient Roman road "Aurélia" which once linked Spain with Italy. The trail then branches off through the vineyards of the "Coteaux des Baux" and follows the foothills of the Alpilles on its return to Saint Rémy. Evening meal and accommodation in the same hotel. Alternatively you can spend time exploring the town further including the Van Gogh walking trail to discover where his great works were painted.
Day 7 To Barbentane/Graveson (17km)
Departure on B-roads across the market garden plains of Châteaurenard and back to your original hotel. Evening meal and accommodation.
Day 8 Trip concludes Barbentane/Graveson
Arrangements conclude after breakfast.