Imagine cycling through Provence on your road bike, well on this road bike based cycling holiday you can do just that. On this bike vacation, you can enjoy the beauty of Provence from the saddle. Discover the countryside and enjoy the colours and lights which have attracted many famous painters. Admire the Roman influence in the area, the theatre in Orange with its magnificent theatre wall, the Pont-du-Gard, the excavation sites in Vaison-la-Romain and the medieval village of Les Baux-de-Provence. Not forgetting the culinary delights of the region, wines, cheeses and a cuisine seasoned with herbs of Provence.
On this cycle tour, every day you can choose between two trips, approximately 75km or 115km. There are two nights stay in both Vaison-la-Romaine and Apt. This saves you packing the suitcases and allows to get to know more about the towns and its environment.
You will cycle on mostly well-paved roads avoiding busy roads where possible. Heavier traffic is, of course, unavoidable at larger towns. Provence is a hilly region so a good level of fitness is required.
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.
Orange is regarded as the gateway to Provence. Celts lived here before the Romans invaded and settled for almost 300 years. For the Romans ‘Arausio’ which was the old name of Orange, was one of the most important towns in the Provincia Gallia Narbonensis. 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, the stage wall of which the Sun King, Louis XIV, described as the most beautiful wall in his country.
From Orange to Vaison-la-Romaine the route is predominantly flat. This stage will take you through some of the best vineyards in Provence, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Vacqueyras, Gigondas, Rasteau and Séguret, just the names of which make the hearts of the wine lovers flutter. On the way to Vaison-la-Romaine you will pass the impressive range of the Dentelles de Montmirail.
Vaison-la-Romaine is a city with a rich Roman heritage. One-fifth of the Roman town, then called Vasio, has so far been excavated. You can see remains of houses of the wealthy Roman citizen, an ancient water canalisation system, the columned hall of Pompeius, a 2000-year-old bridge and an old theatre. Vaison-la-Romaine also has a beautiful medieval quarter and some magnificent buildings dating from the 16th to the 18th Century.
Today we have to face the giant of Provence – the Mont Ventoux. The 1909m high mountain rises abruptly from the countryside. In totally deforesting the mountain the Romans left the Mt. Ventoux with its characteristic bald appearance. Wind speeds of up to 250 km/h have been measured at the summit. The first road over the mountain was built in 1882.
Today you cycle on quiet roads to the city of the candied fruits – Apt. Crossing through the Montagnes de Bluye and d’Albion we reach the centre of lavender cultivation, the village of Sault. Then crossing the Plateau d’Albion we will cycle downhill to Apt, nestled in the valley of Calavon. Apt, situated on the river Calavon, is surrounded by numerous fruit trees. Here, since the 14th-century fruits were picked, blanched and glazed ( the preparation method for candied fruits). The results can be admired in numerous displays of the many pastry shops and of course sampled. Like most towns in Provence, Apt was also a settlement of the Celt-Ligures followed by the Romans. But in Apt, unlike other towns, the ruins are invisible – buried four to ten meters below the town.
The route today takes you into the Parc du Luberon and through some of the most beautiful villages in France. From Apt you cycle on a flat stretch to Céreste before crossing the Luberon for the first time. On the south side of the Luberon, you pass typical small Provencal villages all with their preserved charm. On your way back you pass through the gorge of Lourmarin with its high white rock walls.
The day starts with a climb to Bonnieux followed by a 10km downhill run. On the other side of the Luberon, you continue towards the river Durance. Through the flat valley of the Durance, you cycle in the direction of the Alpilles, a small but charming mountain range between the Rhône and the Durance. The Alpilles (the small Alps), is fascinating because of its rock formation. About 300,000 olive trees grow in this area, from which one of the best olive oils in France is produced.
The old town of St. Remy, with its many squares and cafes, is an ideal place for strolling around and enjoying the provençal life. Here you find the whole myth of Provence in one place. Two famous people are closely connected with St. Rémy: Michel de Nostredame, better known as Nostradamus, was born here in 1503 and in 1889/90 Vincent van Gogh was treated here in the ‘madhouse’ after cutting off his ear.
First, you cycle to the idyllically located Abbey St.-Michel-de-Frigolet, nestled in a low range of hills. Then you leave the Provence crossing the Rhone, and continue to Remoulins, where a trip to the famous Pont du Gard is an absolute must. Crossing the foothills of the Cévennes you cycle back to the Rhône and pass through the wine-growing regions of Tavel and Lirac.
NOTE: Mont Ventoux is normally closed up until 1st May (varies according to snow). If it is closed we cycle around Mont Ventoux (and up to Le Chateau Reynard).
Plane: Avignon or Paris, Marseille, Nice airports and by train.
Train: To TGV station Avignon
Car: A7 highway to Avignon
2021 Prices – For complete tour price breakdown please click the book now button and select your holiday tour date. Prices will then be listed.
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