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France Self Guided Biking / Provence
Tour Dates: April – October – Trips can begin any day of the week. If you choose to begin on Sunday, you will have your welcome meeting and bike fitting on Monday, as our bike shop is closed on Sunday.

Discover the light, scents, colors and tastes of Provence through this self-guided bike tour that will take you on an exploration of Provence’s beautiful towns and villages. You stay in charming hotels. This tour can also be chartered as a guided tour.

2016 Price: €1400 Euros/pp double occupancy

Single Supplement: €400 Euros

High Season Supplement for July tours: €120 Euros pp

Bike Rentals: Hybrid road bike rental: €100 euros, Aluminum road bike rental: €130 euros, Carbon road bike rental: € 170 euros, Electric bike rental: €170 euros, Tandem & Recumbent bikes available on request.

Your choice of route: Moderate 35 – 63 km per day, with this option we urge you to rent hybrid bikes, as some of the rides include gravel / rough paths. Or you can choose the Challenging route with distances of 73 – 91 km per day, this route uses fully paved roads, and is more suitable to road bikes.

This tour can also be chartered as a guided tour, no minimum, 1 or more people.

Price Includes:

  • 7 nights in 3 star hotel
  • 7 breakfasts
  • 5 dinners
  • luggage transfers (between 9:30 am – 5 pm)
  • detailed road book
  • cell phone support from our French partner (cyclists must be able to change a flat tire)
Price does not include:

International flights, train transportation, lunches, beverages, 2 dinners, entrance to any museums or sites.

* We have both guided and self guided options for this bike tour.

Tour Difficulty

We rate this trip suitable for beginners.

  • Difficulty: Relatively Flat
  • Road Conditions: Smooth & Paved
  • Recommended Bike: Hybrid

Tour Highlights

  • Provencal cuisine
  • Vineyards
  • Greeks and Roman Influences
  • Museums and churches
  • Unesco World Heritage Site

Tour Overview

This land of ancient civilization has been enriched during the ages, by the presence of diverse peoples; most notably the Greeks and Romans have let their imprint. Wars, invasions, cultural exchanges and trade contributed to shape this region, at the crossing of the routes between Spain and Italy. In this sun-drenched land where monks developed the vineyard and Greeks imported the culture of the olive trees, the different culinary influences met and the Provencal cuisine of such rich flavors was born.

Our bike route is comprised of quiet roads, must-visit sites, charming villages, charming hotels and typical cuisine of the region. You’ll visit Avignon, “la Cité des Papes”, Arles, the Pont du Gard, Uzès, Saint Rémy and the Baux de Provence.

We have 2 options to choose from: a moderate ride of 35 – 60 km a day over rolling terrain and a more challenging ride of 75 – 90 km a day with some longer climbs. Bienvenue en Provence !

Tour Map

Day 1

Arrival in Avignon. Check-in to your hotel. Free time to discover the old city. 3:00 – 6:00 Meeting at our partner’s store, close to the hotel. Our representative will introduce to you to the tour, answer your questions and will give you the rental bikes for the trip. If this timing does not work for you, we can also arrange this meeting for 9:00 am the following day. Night in AVIGNON 4* hotel

Day 2

You’ll cross the Rhône River to leave Avignon and pause to take in the stunning view of the old town, surrounded by ramparts reflected in the river. Very soon you enter the heart of the vineyard of the Gard, which is famous for the “rosé” wines (several wineries are on the route). Then appears, in all its majesty, the Pont du Gard, a real wonder of the ancient world, built by the Romans in the first half of the first century. From its height of 49 meters, it spans the river (swimming possible). At the end of the road, you finally reach Uzès, the medieval town with its small shaded squares, its mansions of the 17th and 18th centuries, and its maze of alleys in which it are so pleasant to stroll … Night in UZES 3* hotel, dinner included.

Moderate ride: 53 km. Total uphill: 618 m, total downhill 505 m.
Challenging ride: 75 km. Total uphill 672 m, total downhill 559 m (this option crosses the village of Châteauneuf du Pape, famous for its wine).

Day 3

Loop tour. Leaving Uzès (each Saturday morning, there is a very nice Provençal market) you start to discover small, typically Mediterranean villages. The most picturesque – Saint Quentin la Poterie! Due to the underground presence of high quality clay, the village has been famous the production of the pottery since the 12th century. The tiles made of earthenware that were used for the Palais des Papes in Avignon were produced here. Today, thirty potters and ceramists have set up their artist’s studios. Return to UZES hotel, dinner included.

Moderate ride: 35 km. Total uphill 371 m, total downhill 371 m.
Challenging ride: 82 km. Total uphill 1003 m, total downhill 1003 m (this option crosses the village of La Roque sur Cèze)

Multi-sporting option: you can use this day to make a canoe-trip down the Gardon river (at your own expense), up to the majestic Pont du Gard. In this case consider +/- 20 km of roundtrip by bike, the total distance required to reach the river and come back to Uzès.

Day 4

Leaving Uzès, you cross the plane of Nîmes and approach the twin towns of Beaucaire and Tarascon, each one built opposing sides of the Rhône River. In Tarascon, stands one of the most beautiful medieval castles of France. Souleiado has a rich textile heritage, and remains known today for its fashion designers and fine textiles. Further along the riverside, Arles is waiting for you. Many monuments of the town are part of the Unesco World Heritage Site – the theater and the Gallo-Roman Arena, and the Saint-Trophime cloister! So many musicians, writers and painters have celebrated the town – Gounod, Daudet, Van Gogh and Picasso. Visit the Café Van Gogh, the same one painted by the artist and let the particular southern atmosphere takes you with it, this atmosphere which brings people to consider Arles as the real heart of the Provence. Night in ARLES 3* hotel dinner is included.

Moderate ride: 62 km. Total uphill 394 m, total downhill 524 m.
Challenging ride: 91 km. Total uphill 644 m, total downhill 773 m (this option crosses the town of Nîmes).

Day 5

Today’s route takes you to the Natural Regional Park of the Alpilles ! But perhaps, before leaving Arles, you’d like to discover its market (every Saturday morning), one of the most beautiful and largest in Provence, existing since the 16th century. A few pedal strokes and you are into the countryside, the hills of the Alpilles looming in the distance. Soon you’ll reach Fontvieille where the Alphonse Daudet’s Mill spreads its wings in the wind and seems to greet you at your passing. At your bikes rhythm you cross the fields of olive trees, with their blue nuances, some poppies paint the edge of the embankment of red blood, one Roman chapel is hidden into the shade of pine trees. Saint Rémy approaches. On both sides of the road you can see the nice Provençal homes surrounded by their gardens dotted with lavender and dark cypresses. Along the road, you can visit a winery or an olive oil mill. Take the time to stop by and taste the local products. Night in SAINT REMY DE PROVENCE. 3* hotel dinner is included

Moderate ride: 35 km. Total uphill 247 m, total downhill 203 m.
Challenging ride: 84 km ( loop of 49 km when leaving Arles to discover the north of the Camargue and the “Etang du Vaccarès” + 35 km to reach Saint Rémy) Total uphill 247 m, total downhill 203 m

Day 6

A Loop tour from St Rémy (colorful Provencal market every Wednesday morning). The little massive of the Alpilles is surprising for its diversity: jagged limestone crests that stand out against the blue sky, dry valleys with scents of thyme and rosemary, billowing silvery gray olive trees, vertical dark-green cypresses which cut the landscape, small villages of the lowland huddled around their fountain or hanged at their rock … Highlights of the day: the villages of Eygalières and of Les Baux de Provence. We invite you here to go around the Alpilles, through charming small roads that will reveal stunning scenery and views. Back to Saint Remy, take the time to stroll through the village in search of the birthplace of Nostradamus, famous for his predictions, and discover the plateau of the Antiques and the mausoleum, one of the finest of the Roman world. Then, take place on the terrace of a Café to forget the thirst sipping the typical Provencal aperitif: the Pastis ! Night in SAINT REMY DE PROVENCE. 3* Hotel, dinner is included.

Moderate ride: 45 km. Total uphill 577 m, total downhill 577 m.
Challenging ride: 84 km. Total uphill 869 m. Total downhill 870 m. (this option crosses also the charming village of Eyguières)

Day 7

Orchards, vineyards, fields of sunflowers in bloom, sometimes a pasture where few bulls are grazing. This is the countryside. A short climb takes you to the heart of the Montagnette where hidden in the hollow of a valley, is the Abbey of Frigolet. Descend to the pine forest and enjoy the scents of thyme and resin. Perhaps you will meet a herd of goats or sheep, accompanied by a shepherd together with his dogs. Barbentane, its elegant 17th century castle, is your last village before returning to Avignon! Take time to climb to the garden terraces with views of the city and the river, the Cathedral and the Palace of the Popes. Take in the beautiful panoramas of Mont Ventoux, the Luberon and the pink roofs of the town, dotted with bell towers and gardens. Night in AVIGNON. 4* Hotel

Moderate ride: 46 km. Total uphill 238 m, total downhill 274 m.
Challenging ride: 74 km. Total uphill 345 m. Total downhill 382 m. (this option crosses also the charming village of Eyragues)

Day 8

After breakfast, free time in Avignon and departure.

Trip Logistics

Your trip begins and ends in Avignon. There is an airport in Avignon, and also many train options going to Paris & Toulouse each day. The TGV (high speed train) is the best option if you are traveling to Paris. The trains are very busy, so we do recommend buying tickets in advance.)

Who comes on a Nichols Expeditions bike tour?

Folks who enjoy our tours tend to be a spirited mix of singles and couples of ALL ages, from all corners of the US and a few international locations as well. Many have accompanied us on numerous tours in the past. Most folks are recreational riders and all seem to share the common bond of an active lifestyle, an appreciation for the outdoors and a love for fun. We will gladly supply references if you wish to speak with someone who has recently been on this trip.

Train Schedules

Check out European Train Schedules. If you are bringing a bike on the train, you will need to ask at the train station which trains have space for your bike box. You do not need to make advance train reservations.

Baggage

Two simple words – TRAVEL LIGHT! To avoid loosing luggage (that may contain irreplaceable clothing, personal items and medications) and to prepare you for the reality of European hotels (many have narrow stairways and do not have elevators), we urge you to limit your luggage to 2 items. We suggest the following: a carry-on size suitcase or duffel (a legal carry-on sized wheeled suitcase is perfect) and a small personal bag (like a small daypack or shoulder bag). You will be able to bring these 2 items as carry-ons on all international and domestic flights, insuring that your luggage will arrive with you!

Travel Delays

Nichols Expeditions is not responsible for any costs you may incur due to delays with transportation (airline or other), weather, road conditions, government intervention, sickness or other contingencies we are unable to control. For international flights, arrive at least 2 hours prior to departure (check with your air carrier for their requirements) and allow ample time between connecting flights. If you miss your flight and you need a special shuttle to meet up with the group, you will be responsible for the cost.

Passport

You must have a current passport. Make sure your PASSPORT DOES NOT EXPIRE WITHIN 6 MONTHS OF THE COMPLETION OF YOUR TOUR. These requirements do vary from country to country, but just to be safe, we recommend going by the 6 month standard, because it’s definitely better to be safe than sorry when it comes to international travel!

Additional hotel lodging

We can make additional hotel lodging reservations for you at our first night’s hotel. Just let us know in advance.

Money

The currency of France is the Euro. You will need Euros for beverages, shopping, snacks, and tips for hotel staff. We suggest exchanging a minimum of €200 EUR (more if you like to shop and sample the local wine and ice cream).

Cash & Credit Cards

For cash, bring new bills with no tears. You can exchange money at any airport when you arrive. For credit cards, we recommend bringing 2 or more Visa or Mastercards in case you have trouble with one. There are ATM machines in all of the towns on the tour. To use your credit cards in an ATM machine, each card will need a PIN#. Be sure to activate the PIN# and check that it works BEFORE you begin your travels. We also suggest contacting your credit card company prior to your trip to inform them of the countries where you will be traveling and the dates. We do not recommend bringing Travelers Checks because ome places do not accept them, exchange rates vary widely and they require a bank to exchange them.

Tipping

We suggest 10% for exceptional service in restaurants (most restaurants include a service charge) and a small amount for baggage and taxi service.

Language

It is not necessary to be able to speak French to get along in France, but it can be lots of fun. A small dictionary and some creative sign language should get you to the start of the trip without too much trouble. Many people at the airport and train stations do speak English.

Travel Insurance

To protect yourself against life’s uncertainties, we highly recommend purchasing a travel insurance policy!

Learn more about the Travel Insurance.

About Provence

Provence is a geographical region and historical province of southeastern France, which extends from the left bank of the lower Rhône River on the west to the Italian border on the east, and is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea on the south.[1] It largely corresponds with the modern administrative région of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, and includes the départements of Var, Bouches-du-Rhône, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence and parts of Alpes-Maritimes and Vaucluse.

The Romans made the region into the first Roman province beyond the Alps and called it Provincia Romana, which evolved into the present name. It was ruled by the Counts of Provence from their capital in Aix-en-Provence until 1481, when it became a province of the Kings of France. While it has been part of France for more than five hundred years, it still retains a distinct cultural and linguistic identity, particularly in the interior of the region. ~ Wikipedia

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