This gentle bicycle tour weaves its way through the picturesque Van Gogh landscapes of Provence and into the wild heart of the Camargue. Pedal at your own pace along quiet backroads through sweeping plains, olive groves and vineyards, and discover the towns of Avignon, Saint Rémy, Arles – the provencal “Rome” – and Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer en route.
This is classic Provence, with its traditional stone farmhouses, Romanesque chapels, and quaint medieval villages perched atop hillsides. Under the limestone ridges of the Alpilles mountain, and in the valleys of aromatic herbs and thyme, this cycling holiday offers the chance to get up close with the details of this beautiful part of France.
The untamed wildness of the Camargue never fails to delight, with extended flatlands of rice paddies and salt pans, sparse farmhouses and windswept fields. White horses trot through the marshes, black bulls graze in their farms, and thousands of flamingoes, egrets, and herons fill the skies in their graceful flight. It’s not to be missed!
Price from:€3,900 per person based on two people sharing a room. Extras included: Dinner on day 5 and and picnic lunch on day 6. Start & Finish: Starts from Avignon and finishes in Arles (after taxi transfer from Ste-Marie-de-la-Mer). Hotels: 6 nights accommodation and breakfast. 4 and 5 star hotels and guest houses. All luggage transfers between hotels Equipment: Comfortable hybrid bikes. Each bicycle comes with a pannier, pump, lock, toolkit, spare inner tube, map holder and helmet. Activity level: Gentle cycling Electric bikes:Available (please request for specific price) Host briefing: To welcome and brief you, share their local knowledge and look after you. Adventure handbook: Packed full with information, history and photos of the area your tour covers. Route directions and maps of the area Advice, help and guidance:With all your holiday details before you arrive and during your holiday. We want you to go home feeling you have been thoroughly looked after. Terrain:The Camargue is flat whilst Provence can be hilly – although the tour is gentle in distances, if you are concerned you may wish to consider an electric bike. Traffic-free: Quiet lanes and tracks Options: Additional nights in Arles, Avignon and Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer
Day 1: Avignon
Arrive in Avignon and check in to your hotel any time from 2pm. Spend the day exploring this wonderful medieval town on the banks of the Rhône river, which is home to the Pope’s palace, a 12th century bridge, 14th century ramparts, and many museums and churches. The town also hosts a covered market every morning except Mondays.
Day 2: Avignon to Saint Rémy de Provence
Today you set out on your bike, pedalling through orchards and along sleepy lanes lined with cypress trees until you reach the quaint town of Barbentane. From here, make your way up the “montagnette” – literally “little mountain” – which affords magnificent views of Provence’s plains as well as being home to the monastery of St. Michel de Frigolet, a real gem for architecture fans. Continue on through the charming villages of Graveson and Maillane before reaching Saint Rémy de Provence, an artist’s mecca where Van Gogh spent the last year of his life. Tonight you stay in an old music-hall and cinema which has been converted into a 4 star hotel, with a swimming pool and a gourmet restaurant.
21 miles (35 km)
Day 3: Circular Ride from Saint Rémy de Provence
Set off on a circular route from your hotel in Saint Rémy, stopping first at St. Etienne-du-Grès, and the Romanesque chapel of Saint Gabriel. From here, you ride alongside the imposing silhouette of the Alpilles mountains, among olive groves and almond trees. After lunch in Fontvieille, you can visit the elegant Château d’Estoublon estate and sample their olive oils and fine wines. Hop back on your bike and ride onwards into the heart of the Alpilles until you reach Les Baux de Provence, a village built atop a vertiginous rocky spur, hailed as “one of the Most Beautiful Villages in France”. Cycle back to St Rémy de Provence at your leisure.
17 miles (28 km)
Day 4: Saint Rémy de Provence to Arles
After breakfast, climb into the saddle once again and bike southward to Arles. Today you will get your first glimpse of the famed Camargue region – vast flatlands covered in rice fields, wild white horses and birds soaring overhead. Tonight you stay in a 4 star hotel, housed in a former Carmelite convent and recently renovated by the fashion designer Christian Lacroix. Ideally located in the very center of Arles, head out and explore the town or relax by the hotel’s swimming pool and floral gardens.
16 miles (26 km)
Day 5: Arles to Le Sambuc
Today you head out across the Rhône River and enter the heart of the Camargue’s landscape of wheat fields, rice paddies, orchards and vineyards, stretching as far as the eye can see. En route, there’s the opportunity to stop off for a spot of wine tasting at the Domaine de Valériole estate, between the hamlets of Gageron and Villeneuve. Continuing along your route, you’ll also glimpse the bull and horse farms that line the huge marshlands of the Vaccarès. Dinner is included tonight at your accommodation, a stunningly renovated traditional Provencal 17th century farmhouse, which is still a working horse and bull farm today.
20 miles (33 km)
Day 6: Le Sambuc to Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer
Be sure to pick up your picnic lunch from the guesthouse before heading out for your final day of cycling. The route winds its way though a vast expanse of lagoons, rice paddies and marshlands for some time until you join a path along the sea wall, where you might be lucky enough to catch sight of one of the thousands of flamingoes that nest in the region. Soon you’ll spot the bell tower of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer on the horizon. This charming town of white-washed homes is known for its gypsy spirit – the story goes that its patron saint Sara arrived here upon a raft 2000 years ago from Palestine, and her remains lie in the ancient church that dwarfs the rest of the town. Your accommodation for the night is a charming 4 star hotel nearby.
21 miles (35 km)
Day 7: Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer to Arles
Spend the morning exploring Saintes-Marie-de-la-Mer at your leisure (perhaps visiting the local market if it happens to be a Friday). After lunch, we will transfer you and your luggage back to Arles at a time that suits you.
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