Provence - Luberon
France Bike Tours
Cycle in France in the amazing Rhône Valley
This Provence bike tour starts in Avignon. Having been the home of popes and the capital of Christendom during the 14th century, Avignon has long been a treasured cultural center, and continues to boast great artistic successes (such as the famed Festival d'Avignon, the largest in all of France). This fortified city has retained much of its papal history and beauty, which is most evident in the immaculate and majestic Palais des Papes. This famous 14th century Gothic palace (the largest in Europe) is a marvel of white granite and filled with story-telling frescoes.
Leaving Avignon, the landscape becomes a maze of gently rolling hills and sprawling vineyards that bask in the valley's rich sunlight. You will discover many of the places that Peter Mayle described in his famous "A Year in Provence", small charming villages such as Menerbes, Lacoste, Lourmarin or Vaugines. Continuing the bike in Provence you will pass though wide farming plains with their typical provencal houses callaed "Mas", stony plateaus where lavender and sage grow witht he limestone and golden cliffs as backdrops!
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Where You’ll Stay
Option A: 6 nights in 3 star, 1 night in 4 star hotels
Option B: 3 nights in 4 star hotels in Avignon, 4 nights in 3 star hotels
- Hotel accommodations for 7 nights
- Breakfasts & most 3-course dinners (see Not Included)
- 24-speed hybrid sports bicycle equipped with luggage rack, 2 waterproof panniers, cycle computer, repair kit, pump and lock
- Helmet rental (must be reserved in advance)
- Route descriptions & maps (must be returned at end of tour)
- Luggage transportation
- Train transfer Day 7 Cavaillon to Avignon
What’s Not Included
- Dinners on days 1, 7, and 8
Extra nights in Avignon possible by request.
Starts any day from April 1 to October 25, 2016
Please note: Arrivals after 6 pm on Saturdays are not possible.
This bike tour in France is considered moderate to heavy with rolling hills and several steep climbs of varying altitude differences. Daily distances are from 25 to 40 mi. (from 16 to 50 mi. with options). Day 4 & 6 can be used as a day of rest.
Day 1: Arrival in Avignon.
Day 2: Avignon - Isle sur la Sorgue, 33/44 mi. (53/70 km)
Day 3: Isle sur la Sorgue - Apt, 28 mi.(44 km)
Day 4: Day of rest; optional cycling, 16/25 /or 40 mi. (25/40/or 64 km)
Day 5: Apt - Lourmarin, 27 mi. (43 km)
Day 6: Day of rest; optional cycling, 32 mi. (51 km)
Day 7: Lourmarin - Cavaillon, 27 mi. (43 km), Train to Avignon, 20 min.
Day 8: Departure from Avignon.
DAY 1: Arrival in Avignon
This Provence bike tour begins with individual arrival in Avignon followed by a free afternoon in the intriguing city. In the evening, there will be a meeting to discuss the tour as well as presentation of additional tour documents.
DAY 2: Avignon - Isle sur la Sorgue, 33/43 mi. (53/70 km), alt. 280 m.
On this day, you can choose between two itineraries: one is about 33 mi. without difference in altitude and the other is 43 mi. with 1164' (355m) difference in altitude.
Cycling towards the east, you will leave Avignon behind. First you'll come across farming plains with lots of fruit trees and then the landscape changes as you come near the "Plateau des Monts de Vaucluse". You will see small villages situated on top of cliffs with their old castles as their centerpoint. You will soon reach the famous "Fontaine de Vaucluse" and its village on the edge of the river. The evening is spent in Isle sur la Sorgue, a village specializing in antiques with a second-hand flea market every Saturday and Sunday. Hotel has 2 swimming pools.
DAY 3: Isle sur la Sorgue - Apt, 28 mi. (44 km), altitude 290 m.
The route today leads toward Luberon. (Villages such as Oppède le Vieux, Ménerbes, Lacoste and Bonnieux were often described in Peter Mayle's famous "A Year in Provence"). In this region, you too will discover these "jewels" nestled on the bottom of the hills. Many typical Provencal cafés will tempt you! Via a country road, the day finishes close to Apt to spend the evening in a hotel with a swimming pool. Altitude difference for today is ± 240m.
DAY 4: Day off with optional cycling
Different itineraries are suggested:
a) Discovery of Roussillon and its surroundings, about 15 mi. and 427' (130 m) to go up to the village
The village of Roussillon is built on a rock atop a plateau surrounded by golden cliffs. All the houses are colored with the natural ochre and is a wonderful sight for the eyes - the soft colors give a real unity to the village from where the view is absolutely fantastic.
b) Roussillon and Gordes villages, 25 mi. and 1083' (330 m) altitude difference
Gordes is a village with houses made of stones and a great castle. Beautiful view over the Luberon and the "vallée du Rhône" toward Avignon. From here, you'll go to Roussillon. This tour gives you the opportunity to see a windmill.
c) The "Colorado Provencal" and the forgotten villages, 40 mi. and 1870' (570 m) altitude difference (for the more experienced riders)
A large detour to discover the Colorado ochre and its chimneys red, yellow or white. Next you'll cycle along small roads through quiet villages where children play in the streets. Possibility to taste honey and nougat.
DAY 5: Apt - Lourmarin, 27 mi. (43 km), altitude 701 m.
Today's journey will take you to the protected area of the Luberon. Depending on the season, you'll be astonished by the beautiful colors of the blue rosemary, the red poppy and the white flowers on the cherry trees. En route, you can admire the different shapes of the stone houses known as Bories. Next will be a trek down the southern side of the Luberon with a soft landscape reminiscent of Tuscany where you'll come across pretty villages such as Lourmarin. The night will be spent in or close to Lourmarin; hotel has swimming pool. Altitude difference for today is about 500m.
DAY 6: Lourmarin, day of rest or cycling, 32 mi. (51 km), altitude 588 m.
This loop will give you the opportunity to go all the way down to the southeast of the "Grand Luberon". On the way, you'll see several old castles, testimony of a rich past in Provence. A must-see is the famous castle of Le chateau d'Ansouis. Night spent in Lourmarin.
DAY 7: Lourmarin - Cavaillon, 27 mi. (43 km), altitude 357 m; train to Avignon
The La Durance River flows down south of Luberon before joining the Rhône, south of Avignon. Via small roads, you will then cycle either on the riverside or on the farming plains side where you'll encounter lots of farming gardens, such as the famous "Cavaillon melons". In view will become the small part of the Luberon that is 700m higher and which offers great vistas of its bright white cliffs. The cycling portion of the tour will end at the Caviallon train station (S.N.C.F.) from where you'll take the train (with your bike) to Avignon.
DAY 8: Departure from Avignon
This Provence bike tour will end in Avignon following breakfast.