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.
INTRODUCTORY – GRADE 1
Daily cycles are a leisurely 16 to 41km / 10 to 25.5mi on undulating to sometimes mountainous terrain. The cycling is on a combination of low traffic side roads with some crossings and short stints on higher traffic roads required. The accent is on keeping a relaxed pace to take in all of the attractions, with time to stop and take photos. You will need a reasonable level of fitness to participate fully in this adventure. This trip is suitable for beginners and children (electric bikes, children’s bikes and trailers are available on request).
The neighbouring towns of Graveson and Barbentane offer a great beginning 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. Overnight hotel.
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 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.
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. Our first choice of hotel is in the old centre of Arles. If this is not available, you'll stay in a 2-star country hotel with swimming pool a short distance from the centre.
Today’s cycle is short, giving you time to explore the area and Les Baux, a picturesque village with a royal history and high fortified ruins. 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.
From Les Baux you return 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 well known artists that have been attracted to the area include Picasso, Gauguin, Matisse and Cézanne. There is ample opportunity to explore delightful Saint Remy, including the house where Nostradamus was born. Evening meal and accommodation in a 2-star hotel in the village.
If you choose to cycle today, the trail from Saint Rémy 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. Alternatively you can spend time exploring the town further including the Van Gogh walking trail to discover where his great works were painted. Evening meal and accommodation in the same hotel.
Today you will cycle along back roads across the market garden plains of Châteaurenard and back to your original hotel. Evening meal and accommodation.
Arrangements conclude after breakfast.
You will receive a 21 speed ladies or men bike. You will either receive your bikes in the afternoon / evening of Day 1 or the morning of Day 2. You will be provided with 1 saddle bag, helmet, water bottle, anti-theft device, map holder, and repair kit. Please advise your consultant of your height in cms.
For a small supplement you can hire an electric bike. In Provence we use the EVA brand which is a bike with an electric assist - you still need to pedal but the effort is much less. The average battery life is about 25 km (depends on load, terrain and the selected mode). Maximum life in eco mode of 40 km on flat course for users of 70kg (Eco Mode = 16km/h, normal mode = 22km / h, Sport mode = 25km / h) refill: Charging time of 5 hours, after a total battery usage.
I did this trip in September this year (2012) and couldn't fault anything about it. The bikes were great and really stable. The information ie maps and directions were straightforward, though did take the first day or so to feel really comfortable with the French way of understanding road signs. The accommodation was top notch...really comfortable and homely. The food absolutely fabulous. The food in St Remy some of the best food I have ever eaten! No joke!!!! This trip was my first time in France and felt I got to experience the country side really well. I was really sad to finish the ride and honestly would do the trip again in a heart beat. If you enjoy the fresh air and outdoors this trip is for you. Only advice is on Sunday and Monday the French have very long lunch breaks so if you are planning a lunch stop try and estimate where you will be if you want to buy anything. Enjoy the ride up to Les Baux (you will know what I mean as soon as you see the hill), the fabulous food and wine....just perfect. Have Fun.
Bippa666 via TripAdvisor., Newcastle, Australia
We did it as a family may this year (2012)! Fantastic accommodation and meals in graveson, would go back and stay as it was beautiful. Yes we had a few bike flats but nothing easily fixed. Maps were somewhat hit and miss but hoteliers pointed went through directions when asked each morning. All of which were great and eager to please. If our 8 year old can do the trip easily don't panic about doing it solo. UTracks are great!! Would book again and the experience of cycling through fields of poppies and apricot trees is one to treasure, book you will enjoy!!!! By the way bikes are hybrid Giants, easy to ride and fairly comfortable I would however suggest using a gps system as it was amazing how many little things you may like to investigate on your journey, have fun !!
lions1 via TripAdvisor., Melbourne, Australia
Loved the trip. Had lots of fun. Meals were excellent. Would highly recommend.
F.Walker, Sydney, Australia
Just thought I'd let you know how much we enjoyed our cycling trip in Provence. It really was great fun and everything was fabulously organised and smooth for us.
P. Shelley Jones., Cremorne, NSW. Australia
Thoroughly enjoyed the experience of the biking through scenic countryside.Not too strenuous and accommodation basically good.Food also good on the whole.We had a great time possibly could have had more signage on the routes.
D. Thackeray, Queenscliff, NSW. Australia
Certainly the Backroads of Provence. We felt safe at all times, the roads were always easy (except for a couple of hills), but there was very little traffic on any of the roads. The meals at St Remy accommodation were definitely the best meals we had in our whole four weeks in France. Meals were very good at all hotels. The courtyside was beautiful, the French people were delightful, loved the little pop up food markets, yummy fresh tasty food
M. McNeil., Heatherton, VIC, Australia
Most memorable moments: Hard to say, it was all so good, a picnic on a Roman Aqueduct, riding through country fields, magnificent scenery, being with my kids, the amazing food and wines.We had a wonderful time on this trip. I was not very confident on a bike but since most of this was on small back roads this was no problem . The combination of beautiful scenery, the Alpilles, the olive groves, Roman Ruins to cycle in and of course doing this with my two adult children made this a trip to remember. We had the best picnics en route put together from market visits before we left consisting of local cheeses, pates and local wine. Delicious. In the evening our food was again delicious. I did not realise that food would be such a big part of this trip.
M. Belcredi, Epping, NSW, Australia
Most memorable moments: The cycling - quiet roads, interesting sights, great guide notes.We had a great adventure with UTracks. Everything was well organized, the roads we cycled on had very little traffic, yet interesting scenery and we passed through many beautiful villages. The accommodations seemed quite a bit better than the 2 star rating that was stated.
D. Cameron., Kelowna, BC, Canada
We have experienced many and many varied adventure holiday experiences over the last thirty years and this would rank as among the best. The route planing was brilliant and the destinations exciting, variable and stimulating. The bikes were great and the hotels and food outstanding, especially in Les Beaux and St Remy. We are also blessed with fine weather. The only bad day was the cycle from Tarascon to Arles, where the traffic made it an unpleasant day. We also would not recommend walking through Tarascon at night. All in all a brilliant trip. Thank you, Utracks!
T.Bull, Balgowlah, NSW, 05 Jun 2017
Per Person, Twin Share