Inland Provence is a cycling paradise of tiny villages linked by quiet backroads, all calling your name! So grab your bike and pedal into French village life, breathe in the aromas and sample mouth-watering delights. Time-tested relics will guide the way, from prehistory to the Roman era, as you soak up the sun, sights and wine and savour the produce of Cotes du Rhone. Glide along country lanes and Roman roads, climb up to remote hilltop passes. Cruise past vineyards, olive groves and sleepy hamlets, then indulge in frequent stops at ornate chapels and quaint castles. Linger in story-book villages and get lost in Provence.
Your cycling trip takes off from Graveson or Barbentane, just 15 minutes by taxi from Avignon Station. Settle in, rinse off the dust after your journey and blend into the surroundings that so inspired Van Gogh.
Strike out on a route to Tarascon, either through the Alpilles foothills or via St Michel’s Abbey in Frigolet. Whichever route you take, the superb scenery will swallow you whole! The well-preserved Castle of Tarascon, former residence of Count Rene d’Anjou King of Provence, guards an excellent display of tapestries and earthenware jars, while the Musee du Tissu Souleiado overwhelms with countless sorts of fabric. Tuesday is market day, a chance to check out local specialties. Take an evening stroll by the river for a closer look at stately 17th and 18th-century homes.
Challenge: 21km, 113m ascent, 122m descent
Head north into the rugged and rocky scenery around Fontvieille, where local windmills include Alphonse Daudet’s Mill, described in the author’s 1869 tales ‘Lettres de mon Moulin’. Continuing onward, you encounter Arles, a major Gallo-Roman city founded in 7th century BC. Spend time at the Arena and Roman Theatre, cycle along the canal and stop off at the reconstructed Van Gogh Bridge, setting for the painter’s famous “Pont de Langlois” works.
Challenge: 26km, 166m ascent, 158m descent
A shorter ride leaves time to explore the area around Les-Baux-de-Provence, a picturesque village with royal history and towering fortified ruins. Peruse the artifacts at local museums and relish in an evening steeped in history and ‘beauté provençale’.
Challenge: 23km, 481m ascent, 307m descent
Circle back to Maussane on backroads enjoying gorgeous views of the Alpilles, then continue onward to Saint Rémy. Vincent van Gogh spent time here at the asylum in the year before his death, and his paintings from that era celebrate the local light and colours. Other well-known artists have portrayed the area as well, including Picasso, Gauguin, Matisse and Cézanne. Save ample time to explore delightful Saint Remy, whose hidden charms include the house where Nostradamus was born.
Challenge: 28km, 483m ascent, 348m descent
Pedal along dirt roads lined with orchards, where it’s nothing but olive groves and fruit trees! Pause to peak into the village of Eyragues, with its splendid 18th-century clock tower and fortified Romanesque church of Saint Maxime dating back to the 11th century. Stretch your legs on ancient lanes lined with the remains of ramparts, then speed along through vegetable gardens and farmland around Châteaurenard. Your route finishes full circle as you ride back into Barbentane or Graveson.
Challenge: 28km, 174m ascent, 215m descent
Your cycling trip comes to an end today after breakfast. An optional transfer to Avignon train station can be arranged in advance, or on the spot at your accommodation.
The hotels on this trip have been carefully selected for their location, atmosphere and/or unique services. All rooms are en-suite.
Extra nights: Extra nights can be booked at any accommodation along the way.
Tourist tax included