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.
You individually travel to Graveson or Barbentane. These villages 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. If you will be arriving late this evening you bike will be waiting for you at the 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.
Challenge: 21km, 113m ascent, 122m descent
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.
Challenge: 26km, 166m ascent, 158m descent
Today’s cycle is short, giving you time to explore the area and Les-Baux-de-Provence, 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-de-Provence.
Challenge: 23km, 481m ascent, 307m descent
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.
Challenge: 28km, 483m ascent, 348m descent
Today you will cycle along back roads, between olive and fruit trees. You will cross the charming village of Eyragues, where you will see its splendid 18th century clock tower and the fortified, Romanesque-style Saint Maxime church dating from the 11th and 12th centuries. Along the lanes, you will see the remains of the ramparts. After reaching the market garden plains of Châteaurenard, you will cycle to your hotel in Barbentane or Graveson.
Challenge: 28km, 174m ascent, 215m descent
End of your trip after breakfast.
When travelling by train, a transfer from your last accommodation to Avignon train station can be organised before your departure or the day before by your accommodation. The travel time from your accommodation to Avignon train station is about 20 minutes (not included in package).