Cycling through the highlights of Provence: the Alpilles & Luberon
Explore Avignon’s medieval cobbled streets and the famous Pope’s Palace
Cycle among the lavender fields of the Luberon and the sunflower fields of Saint Rémy
Enjoy a picnic lunch under the shade of an ancient plane tree near Cavaillon
Admire the ochre stained village and magnificent red cliffs of Roussillon
Self-guided cycling holiday in Provence
Enjoy a cycling adventure through the beautifully diverse landscapes of Provence, from the cypress dotted plains of Saint Rémy, to the vineyards and orchards of the Luberon, which inspired Peter Mayle’s A Year in Provence. Discover the classic Provence by bike; medieval villages set atop their rocky perches; the cafés and cobbled streets of Saint Rémy; Van Gogh’s Alpilles landscapes; quiet roads filled with the scent of lavender; Provençal food bursting with the flavours of the sun; markets overflowing with every sort of produce and of course the wonderful local wines! The villages of Provence are famed for their daily markets. We recommend planning your cycling around these, so that you can enjoy delicious picnic lunches of the finest and freshest local produce.
Your cycling adventure begins in the Papal city of Avignon before heading south to Saint Rémy, the beloved second home of artist Vincent Van Gogh. A circuit from St. Rémy takes you south through the Alpilles mountains, which so inspired Van Gogh’s later works. Your journey continues east through the landscapes made famous by A Year in Provence; charming villages linked by quiet country roads. Finally, you follow the Calavon Valley to the brightly coloured village of Roussillon and onwards to the pretty town of l ‘Isle sur la Sorgue, where you can relax and watch the world go by from one of the many riverside cafés.
|6 DAYS / 5 NIGHTS
|From €730 per person sharing*
*Discounts available for groups of 4 or more. Please enquire for prices.
If you don’t bring your own, you can rent a bicycle from us. Our touring bikes are top-of-the-line Trek or equivalent. They are equipped with Shimano parts and light aluminium frames, and have a minimum of 21-speed gears. Included with every bike is a helmet, security vest, pump, bike computer, 1 front pannier, 1 water bottle holder, 1 lock per bike, inner tube and repair kit (1 kit per 2 bikes).
It is also possible to rent an electric bike. Provence is hilly. And most of the prettiest villages are “hilltop”, meaning you have to climb to get there. Our E-bikes become a wonderful compromise: while still doing exercise – you still have to pedal to get these things going after all – you can access the hilliest and most breathtaking of what Provence has to offer without being a great cyclist. You can also accompany a more athletic spouse or friend on one of our holidays.
With the purchase of the option E-bike we include :
|All accommodations are carefully selected because of their location, atmosphere and/or unique services.
We choose comfortable 3* hotels. All rooms have private facilities. Breakfast is included each day. The standard hotels of this trip are listed below. In case any hotels are unavailable, we will book one of a similar standard and inform you of the change. You can also book additional nights at any of the hotels along the way.
|You can start on any day of the week, subject to availability, between March 1st and November 15th.
Day 1: Arrival in Avignon
Your cycling holiday begins in Avignon, which is 2h45 by TGV from Paris or 1 hour from Marseille Airport.
A medieval town on the banks of the mighty Rhône River, Avignon hides many treasures: The Pope’s palace, the 12th century bridge, the still intact 14th century ramparts and many museums and churches. We recommend meandering through the labyrinth of cobbled streets, where you will discover cafés in open squares, shaded by plane trees.
Day 2: Avignon > Barbentane > Saint-Rémy-de-Provence
Distance: 35 km | Ascent: 250 m | Descent: 200 m
Your first cycling day takes you on a route between the Durance and Rhône Rivers, through a mosaic of orchards and cypress trees. You will cycle into the quaint town of Barbentane before climbing the Montagnette – literally “little mountain”. Here, you will enjoy sweeping views of the surrounding plains, accompanied by the scent of pine needles and aromatic herbs. At the back of the Montagnette lies the monastery of St. Michel de Frigolet, built over eight centuries with architecture ranging from Romanesque to Neo-Gothic.
You will cycle through the charming villages of Graveson and Maillane, before reaching Saint Rémy de Provence, a chic artists’ town where Van Gogh spent the final year of his life.
Overnight: Saint-Rémy-de-Provence (market on Wednesdays and Saturdays).
Day 3: Saint-Rémy > Fontvieille > Les Baux > Saint-Rémy
Distance: 42 km | Ascent: 400 m | Descent: 400 m
Leaving St. Rémy you can visit Saint Paul de Mausole, the converted monastery where Van Gogh spent the last year of his life and created some of his best work. Adjacent to the monastery is Glanum, a Roman archaeological site. Its massive limestone ruins a are testament to over 2000 years of history.
Your route continues along the winding roads of the Alpilles mountains amid a landscape of pine trees and wildflowers until you reach Les Baux de Provence. Les Baux is listed among the most beautiful villages in France, a town perched vertiginously atop a rocky crag, crowned by the ruins of its feudal castle. Take your time to explore Les Baux before returning to St. Rémy.
Overnight: Saint-Rémy-de-Provence (market on Wednesdays and Saturdays).
Day 4: Saint-Rémy > Eygalieres > Isle-sur-la-Sorgue
Distance: 42 km | Ascent: 130 m | Descent: 140 m
Today you cross the Alpilles massif to reach the Luberon, but your first stop is the lost village of Eygalières. Surrounded by vast olive groves, its beautiful stone houses seeming to climb up the hill to the castle ruins. Your ride continues through farmlands and orchards until you cross the Durance river to reach the lively town of Cavaillon. Bursting with restaurants and cafés, grocers selling locally grown fruit and vegetables and quaint boulangeries, it is the perfect place to pick up a picnic lunch. We also know a secret spot just outside town, shaded by a centuries old plane tree which is perfect for an idyllic picnic!
Continue to Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, also called the Provencal Venice with its many water wheels and canals, where you will spend the next two nights. This veritable island of a village, completely encircled by the clear green waters of the Sorgue river. Explore the antique shops that line the quays, and watch the world go by at one of the many cafés that line the waterfront.
Day 5: Isle-sur-la-Sorgue > Gordes > Roussillon > Isle-sur-la-Sorgue
Distance: 60 km | Ascent: 575 m | Descent: 575 m
“Wow” is probably the best way to sum up the day’s ride: a never-ending barrage of eye-candy and gorgeous perched medieval villages. The effort put forth during your climbs will be rewarded by visits of villages classed among the most beautiful in France: Gordes and Roussillon. Situated in the heart of one of the biggest ochre deposits in the world, Roussillon is famous for its magnificent red cliffs and ochre quarries. The houses in the village are painted in every hue of yellow, orange, and red, a rainbow with ochre pigment. The colour appears even more vibrant in the ever-present Provençal sun. Equally impressive is the dramatic hilltop village of Gordes, its noble grey stone homes winding up in dizzying circles to the renaissance castle that crowns the village.
After visiting both Gordes and Roussillon there are two options for you today: the easier of the two returns to l’Isle sur la Sorgue via a pleasant and peaceful cycle-only path along a former railway line, passing former rail stations. To add some extra hilltop-villages to the mix, we’ve included an optional return via the villages of Bonnieux, Lacoste, Ménerbes, and Oppède le Vieux, all spectacular in their own right.
Day 6: Departure from Isle sur la Sorgue
Your cycling holiday in Provence comes to and end after breakfast this morning. You can catch a train to Marseille Airport or back to Avignon.