Famous Villages of Provence
France Bike Tours
Cycle Provence and enjoy fine food and great wine!
This bike tour in France takes you through the premier attractions of the beautiful Luberon region as well as the magnificent Alpilles Mountains, and the great Côtes du Rhône vineyards. The small villages, age-old architecture and exquisite scenery have made this region one of the best cycling and sightseeing places in France.
From the comofortable saddle of your bicycle, you will come to personally experience the intricate culture of this rich region at your own pace. You’ll cycle off the beaten path - far from the main roads, from Gordes to Les Baux de Provence, from Fontaine de Vaucluse to Châteauneuf du Pape, from Venasque to Roussillon - all the while enjoying the intoxicatingly fresh air and mesmerizing rolling hills so filled with history and tradition and ripe with color - of which artists including Vincent van Gogh and Picasso have taken full advantage. (See also Provence-Luberon and Provence-van Gogh tours).
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Where You’ll Stay
Option A: (swimming pools for 3 nights)
- 2 nights in 2 star hotels
- 2 nights in 3 star hotels
- 3 nights in 4 star hotels
Option B: (swimming pools for all nights)
- 2 nights in 4 star hotels
- 5 nights in 3 star hotels
- Hotel accommodations for 7 nights in selected category
- 7 x breakfasts (options A and B)
- 24 gear hybrid bicycle equipped with luggage rack, pannier, bag, water bottle, odometer, repair kit with pump, lock, and bike helmet
- Route descriptions & maps
- Luggage transportation
- Transfer Day 8 Isle sur la Sorgue to Avignon train station from 9 am to 6:30 pm
- 5 x three course dinners (Option A only)
What’s Not Included
- Individual arrival
- Option A: Dinners on Day 1 and 8
- Option B: Lunches and Dinners
- Drinks with meals
Starts any day from April 1 to October 25, 2016
Please note: Arrivals after 6 pm on Saturdays are not possible.
This self-guided hotel tour is easy to moderate considering some days can get a bit hilly. Daily distances range from 22 to 36 mi., but are variable. Day 4 may be used as a rest day.
Note: This tour is also available as a road bike tour.
Day 1: Arrival in Avignon
Day 2: Avignon - Sorgues - Avignon, 30, 34, 35, or 39 mi. (48, 54, 57, or 63 km.) - depending on option chosen
Day 3: Avignon - Les Baux de Provence, 30 or 35 mi. (48 or 55 km)
Day 4: Les Baux - Arles - Les Baux, 32 mi. (51 km)
Day 5: Les Baux - Fontaine de Vaucluse/Isle sur la Sorgue, 33 mi. (53 km)
Day 6: Fontaine de Vaucluse/Isle sur la Sorgue, roundtrip to Gordes & Roussillon, 40 mi. (65 km)
Day 7: Fontaine de Vaucluse/Isle sur la Sorgue, roundtrip to Venasque, 29 mi. (47 km)
Day 8: Transfer Fontaine de Vaucluse/Isle sur la Sorgue - Avignon and departure
DAY 1: Avignon
Arrival in Avignon. Free afternoon to explore this great city - followed by a welcome meeting in the evening at the Provence Bike Shop for presentation of the tour, distribution of documents and bikes.
DAY 2: Avignon - Sorgues - Avignon, 30, 34, 35, or 39 mi. (48, 54, 57, or 63 km.) - depending on option chosen
This day is dedicated to wine discovery: the “Tavel”, first rosé in France, and the “Lirac”, with its rare elegant quality (optional). The “Châteauneuf du Pape”, a vintage wine, is specifically grown on a ground covered with pebbles. These pebbles accumulate heat during the day and give it back during the night. This wine is also unique because it is made from 13 different varieties of vine.
From the small village of Tavel, which is comfortably surrounded by lush vineyards, you will travel on to Châteauneuf du Pape. Here you will find the ruins of the Castle that served as a comfortable summer residence for the Popes. Via quiet country roads, you will next make your way back to Avignon.
DAY 3: Avignon - Les Baux de Provence, 30 or 35 mi. (48 or 55 km)
Heading south towards the very heart of Provence, you will ride into the foothills of the Apilles Mountain range (with low altitude fluctuation). The landscape is made up of small hills with chalky ridges that love to soak under the sun, and where you can easily see why painters such as Vincent van Gogh found their inspiration. In St. Rémy de Provence, where Nostradamus (the doctor and astrologist famous for his predictions) was born, you will come across 2 well-preserved Roman monuments: the Mausoleum and Municipal Arch. St. Rémy de Provence was once a rich Glanum city, abandoned at the end of the 3rd century and now only ruins remain.
As you bike on to Les Baux de Provence, stop to enjoy “l’elixir (liquor) du Révérand Pére Gaucher” in the Abbey of St Michel de Frigolet. It is situated on the “Montagnette”, a small mountain (highest point 170 m). Overnight in Les Baux de Provence.
DAY 4: Les Baux de Provence - Arles - Les Baux, 32 mi. (51 km)
Three options are given today: resting time at the hotel, visiting the village of Les Baux de Provence, or biking for about 32 miles on flat ground that includes a visit to the wonderful town of Arles.
The village of Les Baux de Provence, with its charming houses all strung together, sits cozily on a rock where the view is magnificent: groves of olive trees flow across the plains, cypress trees stretch toward the sky, fields overflow with beautiful flowers, small villages pepper the landscape, and of course, there's the endlessly blue waters of the sea to deal with.
Arles, a ancient Roman capital and large religious center during the Middle Ages, has brilliant houses surrounding its arenas, which are perhaps the city's most captivating feature. Every Saturday morning, the city streets transform into a bustling open market. In the heart of the old city, you may relax at numerous refreshing outdoor cafés. Overnight in the same hotel.
DAY 5: Les Baux - Fontaine de Vaucluse/Isle sur la Sorgue, 33 mi. (53 km)
Today, you'll start by crossing the small hills of Les Alpilles (highest point: 390 meters). En route, delightful villages will await your aquaintance. In Eygaliéres alongside a hill of donjon vestiges, you will be able to take a break at the foot of a 12th century Chapel, where it used to be a heathen temple dedicated to water. Next, you'll head east along quiet roads to the Monts de Vaucluse, reaching the heart of the regional park of the Luberon. Overnight either in Fontaine de Vaucluse or in Isle sur la Sorgue, on the riverside.
DAY 6: Fontaine de Vaucluse/Isle sur la Sorgue - Gordes - Roussillon - Fontaine de Vaucluse/Isle sur la Sorgue, 40 mi. (65 km)
At the foot of a golden cliff flows one of the most important springs in Europe: the Fontaine de Vaucluse. This site is famous for its breathtaking natural atmosphere, and is also known thanks to the Italian humanist and poet Pétrarque from the 14th century.
Further on, two villages are worth a visit: Gordes and Roussillon. Gordes has attractive stone houses and nicely paved, arched streets. It is hung up on a cliff at the start of the Luberon chain. Around the villages are numerous “Bories” (huts made out of dry stone) that will amaze you with their various shapes. Roussillon, a totally different village, sits on a small hill colored with red ocher. The house walls are stained with ocher, from red to yellow, contrasting nicely with the dark green of the pine trees. At the top of the village, a viewpoint offers a spectacular view over the plains, Gordes, and the small villages around. Overnight in the same hotel.
DAY 7: Fontaine de Vaucluse/Isle sur la Sorgue - Venasque - Fontaine de Vaucluse/Isle sur la Sorgue, 29 mi. (47 km)
The big village of Isle sur la Sorgue is surrounded by the arms of the river and becomes animated every Sunday morning when a famous antique market as well as a large Provencal market take place.
In every street of the village, there are booths with shimmering colors, stimulating odors, Provencal cloths, handicraft, clothes, pottery…. Vegetables, sweets, delicatessen, goat cheese, honey and jam… lavender, spices, Provencal herbs… exuberance, laughing, hustling… All meridian culture is here!
Escaping north, you'll next bike on quiet country roads to reach a pleasant village located on top of a hill that overlooks the plains of Carpentras; namely Venasque. The village presents magnificent views also over Mont Ventoux, the highest point in Provence (1910 m high). Night in the same hotel.
DAY 8: Transfer Fontaine de Vaucluse/Isle sur la Sorgue to Avignon. Departure.
A short transfer to Avignon, followed by some free time in the city; then departure.