If you have completed cycling holiday on the Rhone route from Geneva to Lyon then this trip is a continuation on the same cycle route towards the Provence town of Orange. If this is the first cycling holiday on the Rhone route then after visiting Lyon, a gastronomic capital, this week shows you why the Rhône has long been renowned as the route of successive civilisations. Many spots recall the importance of river navigation and trade in times past. Several towns here have Roman roots, while famous vineyards line up along the steep, sunny slopes. Valence classed as the city of Art and History for its rich cultural legacy, and finally Orange, the gateway to Provence. A bicycle trip to the sound of cicadas, the noisy insect that fills the air with noise in this region!
It is a requirement of booking this tour with Hooked on Cycling that you have suitable travel insurance which covers you for the chosen activity and for emergency evacuation and hospital care.
Arrival in the beautiful city of Lyon. Your options for the rest of the day are endless. Walk to the Basilique Notre-Dame de Fourvière for a great view in town, shop, visit a museum or see the typical Halles de Lyon Market. You can also reward your cyclist soul with a delicious meal in a “petit bouchon”, authentic restaurant in the “French capital of gastronomy”!
After buzzing Lyon, the itinerary leads through the countryside and the towns of Grigny and Givors, then onto St-Romain-en-Gal. The historic importance of navigation is clearer here than anywhere else along the Rhône. Museums at St-Romain-en-Gal and Vienne give a good picture of the river’s rich history, from classical to contemporary times.
This remarkable cycling day offers a great variety of landscapes. From Vienne, once an ancient capital of Roman Gaul, to the nature reserve of L’île au Beurre, bearing witness to the Rhône’s wild side, via steeply terraced vineyards, including the prestigious Côte-Rôtie, the first major orchards along the Rhône Valley, this stage will delight those interested in history, nature and gastronomy.
Your cycle tour today runs between steep vineyards and dense orchards. Heading south from Lyon, this is the first Via Rhôna stage to enter the rugged Ardèche, a beautiful département (or French county) on the mighty Rhône’s west flank. Here, the tamed river supports orchards, market gardens and vines producing top-class Saint-Joseph wines. Then as you arrive into Tournon-sur-Rhone enjoy a pleasant break laden with Gallo-Roman history. In the afternoon, you will have an introduction to the South of France. There’s much to enchantment here, pretty villages in a typical southern style. The big town of Valence presages Provence to the south, with its colourful markets, shaded gardens and historic quarters.
After a halt at Valence’s southern river port of L’Epervière, your route leads you back onto the western Ardèche bank of the Rhône. The Ardèche is known for its exceptional caves, archaeological sites, characterful villages, châteaux and nature reserves. Continuing south along Via Rhôna you will cycle on the recent Himalayan-style footbridge at Rochemaure. This is a fabulous experience, built using the pillars of the Vieux Pont, it is a historic bridge over the Rhône. Here you are at the gates of Provence, “Montélimar” where a human presence has existed for more than 50,000 years. Renowned for its nougat, Montélimar is a pleasant city where it is good to take a stroll in the old city centre.
Today leaving the beautiful city of Montélimar you cycle beside branches of the Rhône and pass through historic towns such as Viviers, with its medieval spirit, Bourg-Saint-Andéol with many treasures including a rare sculpture of a Mithraic deity. Today your short itinerary is packed with heritage treasures, especially religious ones, including cathedrals, chapels and grand clerical residences.
Today is your last cycling day. The route today has you pedalling through impressive nature with the scents of Provence all around you. You shall cycle through the charming village of Pont-Saint-Esprit. In the afternoon you reach the beautiful city of Orange. Of the numerous Roman buildings and monuments originally built, you still can see parts of the City Wall, the Arc de Triumph and the Theatre (UNESCO heritage), the stage wall of which the Sun King, Louis XIV, described as the most beautiful wall in his country.
End of your trip after breakfast. We advise you to extend your stay in order to take the time to visit the historic city of Orange.
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