The sublime landscapes and pretty villages of Provence have been an inspiration for artists for centuries. To really appreciate the countryside the ideal means of travel through the region is by bike. Fields of lavender and poppies, old olive groves and vine covered hills, orchards brimming with fruit and crumbling farmhouses are characteristic of the landscape. Explore historic relics from prehistoric to Roman times, and take your time to soak up the sights and sample the wine and produce of the Cotes du Rhone and greater Provence. Splendid churches, medieval castles and picture-book Montagnette villages along the way provide an excuse for frequent stops. The two nights in St Remy de Provence, the birthplace of Nostradamus and the town where Van Gogh spent his last years painting some of his best works, are one of the many highlights of this inspiring cycling journey.
- Cycling through stunning Provence scenery 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 local cuisine
- Soaking up the hospitality of small family run hotels
Day 1: Arrival in Barbentane or Graveson
The neighbouring towns of Barbentane and Graveson offer a great start to your cycle trip in Provence, just a 15 minute taxi ride from Avignon TGV 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. If you will be arriving late this evening your bike will be waiting for you at the hotel. Dinner at the hotel.
Day 2: Through typical Montagnette villages to King René’s town, Tarascon (20 or 27km/13 or 16.8mi)
After breakfast, begin cycling to Tarascon. Depending on your hotel the previous night, you’ll cycle through the foothills of the Alpilles to reach Tarascon or alternatively via the Abbey of St Michel de Friogolet. Whichever route you take, today is full of superb scenery through typical villages of Provence. Situated on the Rhone River, Tarascon has some interesting sights. Its well preserved castle was once home to Count Rene d’Anjou, the King of Provence, and has an excellent display of tapestries and earthenware jars. The Musee des Tissues Souleiado (fabric museum) is also worth exploring. If you arrive on a Tuesday, this is market day and it’s well worth spending some time checking out the local specialties. Across the river are some great 17th and 18th century houses. Our comprehensive route notes will provide further tips for exploring this pretty town. Own arrangements for dinner tonight and accommodation in a 2-star hotel in the centre of Tarascon. Ascent: 113m/370ft, descent 122m/400ft
Day 3: Cycle to Arles (25.5km/16mi)
Today the cycle takes you 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. Continue to historic Arles, which dates from the 7th century BC and was a major Gallo-Roman city. Here you should visit the Arena and the Roman Theatre, and you can cycle along its canal to the reconstructed Van Gogh bridge, the setting of the painter’s famous “Pont de Langlois” works. The Frank Gehry-designed Luma-Arles is worth a visit. Our usual hotel is in the old centre of Arles. Own arrangements for dinner this evening. Ascent: 166m/544ft, descent 158m/518ft
Day 4: To Les Baux-de-Provence via Barbegal Castle (21km/12.5mi)
Today’s cycle is quite short, giving you time to explore the area. From Arles you cycle via Barbegal Castle then there’s a short steep climb to Les Baux, a picturesque Medieval village atop a fortified rocky site with a royal history and ruins to explore. There are some great museums in the village including the History Museum and the Olive Museum, and the nearby Carrieres des Lumieres is well worth a visit. Dinner and overnight at Les Baux. The usual hotel is a charming 3 star with pool. Ascent: 481m/1578ft, descent 307m/1007ft
Day 5: Cycle to Saint-Rémy-de-Provence (27km/16.8mi)
From Les Baux you ride to Maussane along a back road, from which there are gorgeous views of the Alpilles, and 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. Other artists who have been attracted to the area include Picasso, Gauguin, Matisse and Cézanne. There is ample opportunity to explore the delightful town of Saint Remy, including the house where Nostradamus was born and its pretty squares and shops. Overnight in a 3-star hotel with swimming pool. Ascent: 483m/1584ft, descent 348m/1141ft
Day 6: At leisure in Saint Rémy-de-Provence
Free day to spend time exploring the town further including the Van Gogh walking trail to discover where his great works were painted. Own arrangements for dinner tonight.
Day 7: Return to Barbentane/Graveson (25 or 27.5km/15.5 or 17mi)
Today you will cycle along back roads across the market garden plains of Châteaurenard to your starting hotel in either Barbentane or Graveson. Dinner at the hotel. Ascent: 174m/570ft, descent 215m/705ft
Day 8 Trip concludes
The trip concludes after breakfast. It is a 15 minute taxi ride to Avignon TGV station, from where you can take the train to Paris (3hrs) including Charles de Gaulle airport.
- 7 breakfasts, 3 dinners – 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 in 2 and 3 star hotels on a twin share basis with ensuite facilities.
- 21 or 24 speed bike rental with pump, repair kit, lock, helmet and panniers (electric bike available on request – supplement applies. Child bikes are also available on request)
- Luggage transfer (1 piece of max 20kg per person)
- Information pack including smartphone app with maps plus a route book per room booked
- Emergency hotline
Adult: From $2260NZD
Child: From $1390NZD*
UTX – PBR
Images Courtesy of UTracks