The romantic corner of southern France known as Provence is the focus of one route, which we call The Provencal. After just a day here, you’ll understand why so many people say that biking in Provence was “the best vacation I ever had.” Visit one of the first outlying provinces established by the Romans and see remnants of the old empire: the Pont du Gard aqueduct and a Roman arena still in use.
- The Palace of the Popes +1 Our week begins in Avignon, a walled city settled by the Romans, with a reception, drinks, and orientation, followed by dinner. If you’re in town by 4:00, join us for a walking tour of Avignon’s cobblestone streets, taking in the Papal Palace, the terraced hilltop gardens adjacent to the palace, the Pont d’Avignon, and the bustling town square.
- Rural French Roads: The Joy of Biking +2 Awake to the distant tolling of a church bell. After breakfast, we’re off! We cross the silvery Rhone and head toward Pont du Gard, one of the 7 surviving wonders of the ancient world. We’ll spread out an elegant picnic and perhaps swim in the sparkling waters below it. Bike along wonderful backroads, through orchards and fields of wild rosemary, thyme, and cheery sunflowers. Visit Tarascon and its crenellated castle on the Rhone. We’ll bicycle to the bustling city of Arles and check into our hotel, then relax with a wine tasting. After a leisurely dinner we may stroll along the moonlit river.
- The Legacies of Ancient Rome +3 Few places outside Rome offer as many relics of that ancient empire as does Arles. While biking options are available, most people enjoy spending the day in town. Explore its narrow streets and visit the glorious Roman arena, and the remains of the once-elaborate Baths, the stone sarcophagi of Alyscamps, and the church of St. Trophime. In the afternoon, die-hard cyclists can pedal into the Camargue, a wildlife preserve famous for its handsome cowboys. Dinner tonight is on your own. It may be difficult to choose from the excellent restaurant options!
- In the Footsteps of Van Gogh +4 The ride to our next hotel takes us over twenty miles of road — and two millennia of history! Stop at a unique double aqueduct and the fortress at Les Baux. Every day we offer extra biking options for those up for it. Today’s longest option is a sweeping route along the base of the Alpilles (“little Alps”), a dramatic and jagged range of peaks to the enchanting town of Eygalieres. Van Gogh fans may experience some deja vu while approaching St.-Remy-de-Provence, where the artist spent his last two years at an asylum, and whose landscape features in his paintings.
- A Crumbling Castle and a Crystalline Spring +5 A peaceful tree-lined road carries us from St. Remy to the vineyards of Terre Blanche, where we will enjoy a wine tasting of recent vintages. Our picnic lunch is at the 13th century Chapel of St. Sixte. For a good workout, take a detour up to the Notre Dame de Beauregard, high on a hill over the Durance River. Soon we reach the Sorgue river, where crystal-clear waters offer respite from the hot day. Refreshed, we continue on to L’Isle sur la Sorgue, where we spend two nights in a an island village.
- Villages of Golden Stone +6 If you’d like to stay in town today, there’s plenty to do. Perhaps visit the WWII Museum of the Resistance, take a kayaking lesson on the Sorgue, or go for a hike. For those heading out on your bikes we’ve mapped out a full-day circuit taking in several villages, each with a distinct personality, nestled in a magical region of dark forests and meandering streams. Bith Gordes, a village of golden stone; Roussillon, a famed source of natural ochre dye; Bonnieux, once a papal fief; Lacoste, home of the Marquis de Sade; and more. Bicycle as far as you wish, at your own pace.
- Watermills and Wildflowers +7 This is a short biking day, so you can relax in the morning and explore the village before hitting the road. Today’s ride takes us past fields of red poppies, and soon we’re back in Avignon. You may want to arrive early so you can tour the inside of the Papal Palace, or visit 14th-century Fort St. Andre across the river. Then get ready for a special dinner at one of Avignon’s many friendly restaurants.
- A Week to Remember +8 The hardest thing about our trips is saying goodbye to a wonderful group of new friends, and a charming region of France. If you’ve got extra vacation time to spend in Europe, we suggest you save it for after the trip, rather than before: Chances are, others from this week’s adventure will be looking for some company for a weekend in Paris or perhaps Nice, on the Mediterranean coast.
- Important Notes
for solo travelers who wish to enjoy a private bedroom and bathroom
“Great way to see another country in the company of other gay/lesbian folks. Loved it!”Arturo Febry, Chicago, IL
“The trip to Provence was life altering! I have never seen such beauty before! The food, the wine, the activities, the group were all superb. I plan to go on many more Alyson Adventures trips!”Sharron Sawyer, Roslindale, MA
|What is the activity level of this tour?||
This is our most popular route, in part because both less- and more-experienced cyclists can enjoy it.
Comfortable hotels each night; Services of two tour guides; All breakfasts, 2 lunches, and 5 dinners with wine included at dinners; Transportation to get luggage (and tired cyclists!) to destination; Use of bike; A wine-tasting; Map and routes. All HE Travel tours include complimentary Medical & Evacuation Insurance.
What’s NOT Included
Transportation to and from Avignon; 4 lunches; 2 dinners; Souvenirs, snacks, admissions; Gratuities for guides.
France: St. Remy-de-Provence
France: The Luberon
* Climb the time-worn stone steps at Arles’ Roman amphitheater, its walls still ringing with the sound of ancient gladiator fights. * Gaze out over the vast countryside from the ruins of Les Baux, a legendary court of love in the 13th century, later the refuge of brigands. * Cycle past the hauntingly familiar sites that Van Gogh painted during his remarkable years in St.-Remy-de-Provence. * Browse at the famous antique markets of Isle-sur-la-Sorgue. * Take a break from cycling, to stretch your legs in an endless field of scarlet poppies.
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