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Provence’s History, Landscapes, and Luberon National Park

  • 4.7

    (6)

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  • 7 nights | 32 miles/day
  • Difficulty Level: 3
  • Guided from: USD1910
  • Self-guided from: USD1350
  • View Dates

Tours using road, hybrid or touring bikes:

  1. Mostly flat
  2. Flat with some gentle slopes
  3. Rolling, hilly terrain
  4. Some long and/or steep climbs
  5. Extensive climbing

Tours using mountain bikes:

  1. Mostly flat, wide trails
  2. Some gentle slopes, wide trails
  3. Rolling, hilly terrain and/or narrow trails
  4. Some long and/or steep climbs and/or technical trails
  5. Extensive climbing and/or highly technical trails
  1. Variety: Choose from more than 200 tours offered by local operators in 35 countries.
  2. Advice: Our informed advisors help you choose the trip that's right for you.
  3. Lower cost: You pay local tour company prices—less than what big American companies charge.
  4. Great exchange rates: Pay low rates thanks to the millions of dollars in foreign currency we buy each year.
  5. Convenience: We handle the full booking and payment process.
  6. Support: We’re your advocates from initial planning through final pedal stroke.

Tour description

Probably the most beautiful of our French cycling tours, and perhaps the best food.

Whilst on our Provence cycling tour people are often surprised by the quality of the Roman sites, the Theatre in Orange and the amazing acquaduct at the Pont du Gard. Our cycling tour also explores interesting wine regions including Chateauneuf du Pape, Tavel, rated by many the finest rosé wine in France, and Les Baux de Provence, one of France's newest Appellations.

Our last three days are spent in the Lubéron National Park, made famous in Peter Mayle's 'Year In Provence'. It's hilly, but this is the most beautiful part of Provence - worth every pedal stroke.

Daily program

Day 1: Arrival in Villeneuve Les Avignon
Arrive at the hotel in Villeneuve Les Avignon. Most people arrive in Avignon by TGV either from Paris or from London, although there are some direct flights to Avignon and to Nimes. Your first night is spent at the Residence les Cedres with our host, Christophe.
Overnight in Villeneuve Les Avignon

Day 2: Avignon – Orange (27 miles/43 km)
This is a fairly easy day - nice and flat as far as Chateauneuf du Pape where you'll taste the renowned local brew at Domaine de la Solitude. This afternoon you pass over the hill where the best vines are grown and follow quiet roads into Orange.

This was originally a retirement town for retired Roman soldiers and today boasts a truly spectacular Roman Theatre that you'll visit before dinner. You'll also have a look at the huge triumphal arch that dates back to the reign of Augustus. The Theatre and the Arch together are classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Overnight in Orange

Day 3: Orange – Uzes (31 miles/49 km)
Today we cross the mighty Rhone, by far the biggest river in France (by volume) and once a source of Royal skulduggery. Avignon, on the Provence side of the river, belonged to the King, as far as the opposite bank. Every time it flooded, the King would move the goal-posts, so to speak, to the edge of the floods. These days it's a heavily canalised and dredged waterway, and at times appears to flow above the level of the neighbouring fields.

You continue on your way to the beautiful medieval town of Uzes, following tiny back roads that take you past Tavel, home of the best rose wines in France. Tonight you stay at the Hotel St Genies just outside Uzes with Rik and his family - like all the best French people, they're actually Belgian. Tonight you eat gourmet-style at the Taverne in Uzes' 'Old Town'.
Overnight in Uzes

Day 4: Uzes – Beaucaire (33 miles/53 km)
This is why you left Provence, to have a look at the spectacular Pont du Gard, an ancient Roman aquaduct and another UNESCO World Heritage Site. You get there by tiny, tiny roads. More than anything else I try to make sure that our tours take you on routes that you couldn't find on your own, and this morning's ride is a bit special. But you'll forget all that when you see this amazing aquaduct.

The bridge was built by the Romans to carry water across the River Gardon to carry water to Nîmes. 275 metres long and 48 metres high, it's impossible adequately to explain how amazing the Pont du Gard is, but have a look at the photos and make up your own mind by visiting!

Next to the aquaduct is a rather lovely gift, a stand of three olive trees, each more than 1,000 years old, donated by the Spanish government. The citation offers some explanation about the suitability of such an ancient and spiritual gift to be displayed next to such a monument as the Pont du Gard. Sounds a bit soppy, but in situ it's rather nice, and you don't see 1,000 year-old olive trees everyday.

This afternoon you follow a crafty route of staggering genius to arrive in Beaucaire on the banks of the river Rhone, but en route you'll be in the wilds of the French countryside. Beautiful.

Beaucaire is a port facing Tarascon on the opposite bank. The canal that enters the Rhone will take you all the way through Toulouse and Bordeaux to the Atlantic ocean. That's quite a canal. Tonight you're at the Hotel Les Doctrinaires. You ate beautifully last night - tonight is better.
Overnight in Beaucaire

Day 5: Beaucaire – St. Remy (27 miles/43 km)
Over the Rhone this morning, and back into Provence. After a coffee stop in Fontvielle, we're off into the hills!

A longish climb into the Alpilles brings you to Les Baux de Provence, a fascinating, ruined fortress. Ruled over for centuries by (alleged) descendants of Balthazar, one of the biblical 3 Kings, this fortress was able to wreak havoc throughout Provence and as far afield as Toulouse. Eventually it became part of France, but following a rebellion was destroyed by none other than Cardinal Richelieu of Three Musketeers fame.

Ten years later it was given to Monaco (the current Marquise of Les Baux is Princess Caroline of Monaco) and in the 19th century was the site for the discovery of aluminium ore, hence 'bauxite'.

Astonishingly, Les Baux became such a backwater that it effectively disappeared. Rediscovered after World War II, it's been excavated and restored to what we see today - a ruined fortress surrounded by tourist shops! Don't let me put you off; Les Baux is fascinating and has some of the best views you could possibly imagine.

Les Baux de Provence is also one of the most recent wine regions to be awarded 'Appelation d'Origine Controllee' status, so you'll stop at Domaine Mas de la Dame for a tasting before tackling your final hill of the day which takes you over the top of the Alipilles and down into St Remy.

On the way, you pass Glanum, a ruined Roman town that was inundated by scree falling from the Alpilles over many centuries. It has a huge triumphal arch and mausoleum at one end of the town, and these have always been visible. But not until 1921 did anyone realise that a whole town was buried just yards away.

Right next door to Glanum is the Saint-Paul-de-Mausole Asylum where Van Gogh did much of his painting. Now, there are information points showing where he painted many of his most famous works - surprisingly interesting.

Finally, the downhill run into St Remy and the Hotel Castelet des Alpilles. Although today is just over 40 km, it's a long and wonderful day. You'll have earned your dinner tonight at Le Jardin de Frédéric.
Overnight in St. Remy

Day 6: St. Remy – Roussillon (38 miles/61 km)
Today we'll show you my secret road out of St Rémy, following the spectacular silhouette of the Alpilles as far as Eygalieres, then through Cavaillon to the Lubéron Hills. This was the region where Peter Mayle set his Year in Provence, and although it's inevitably a bit hilly, you'll cycle through the classic Provencale villages of Robion, Maubec and Ménérbes. The highlight is the tiny village of Oppede le Vieux

The Lubéron are the reason many people visit Provence. They don't have the same needle-sharp profile of the Alpilles, but if anything they're more beautiful and much higher. Don't worry, you 'flirt' with the Lubéron more than anything else - this afternoon is hilly, but it could be a lot worse as you cycle through forests and sleepy villages to Rousillon where you spend tonight.

Rousillon is famous for its ochre cliffs, but also for its amazing panoramic views. For me, you can keep the cliffs, but the views are among my favourite on any tour. It's a long climb into Rousillon, so that cold beer gazing over the Lubéron is very well-earned.
Overnight in Roussillon

Day 7: Roussillon – Avignon (38 miles/61 km)
You start with a fantastic downhill - the payback from yesterday afternoon. Sadly, because you're in the Lubéron, there's another climb into Gordes. It's worth it though and rewarded by a very pretty village with some more spectacular views before you head off on backroads to the Fontaine de Vaucluse.

This extraordinary resurgent spring is the source of the River Sorgue, and you follow the Sorgue Valley through to Isle-sur-la-Sorgue. This sleepy town, built around the many channels carved out by the Sorgue, has become famous as France's leading antiques market. It's a beautiful town, and you'll have lunch here.

After lunch you do our best to follow quiet roads into Avignon, where you can enjoy a cold drink gazing across the square at the enormous Palais des Papes.

In the 14th Century, fleeing chaotic violence in Rome, Pope Clement V moved to Avignon, which became the base for a total of 7 popes. One of these, Benedict XII, supervised the completion of the largest gothic building in France, the vast, fortified Papal palace. If we get into Avignon in good time we can have a look round, but in fact the most spectacular aspect of the palace is to view it from the outside and marvel at the sheer size of the thing.

After you leave Avignon, we cross the Rhone for one last time and climb the short hill back to Villeneuve les Avignon and the Residence les Cedres. You're finished with Provence - well done!
Overnight in Villeneuve Les Avignon

Day 8: Departure
You will depart individually for your onward travels.

Route Map

Maps are for information purposes only and reflect typical routes between overnight locations. They may not reflect your actual route.

Dates

Jun 2, 16, Aug 18, Sep 22, 2018 (minimum 4 participants)

Prices

Tour package
Per person, double occupancy
USD1910
Single room surcharge (1 person/1 room)
USD470
Bike Rentals
E-bike
USD75
Transfer
Avignon TGV Station (per person, round trip)
USD25
Avignon airport (per person, round trip)
USD60
Traveling from London (per person, round trip)
USD325
Traveling from Paris (per person, round trip)
USD230

Dates

Daily: May 1-Sep 22, 2018

Prices

Tour package
Per person, double occupancy
USD1350
Single room surcharge (1 person/1 room)
USD470
Solo traveler surcharge (includes single room surcharge)
USD805
Bike Rentals
E-bike
USD75
Transfer
Avignon TGV Station (per person, round trip)
USD40
Avignon airport (per person, round trip)
USD60
Traveling from London (per person, round trip)
USD325
Traveling from Paris (per person, round trip)
USD230
Please note: Instead of operating bicycle tours ourselves, BikeTours.com represents local bicycle tour operators around the world. Review the tour operator's information and terms below, then submit your booking request through BikeTours.com. The primary benefits of booking your tour through BikeTours.com include:
  • Lower cost: You pay local tour company prices—less than what big American companies charge
  • Variety: Choose from more than 200 tours offered by local operators in 35 countries.
  • Advice: Our informed advisors help you choose the trip that's right for you.
  • Great exchange rates: Pay low rates thanks to the millions of dollars in foreign currency we buy each year. Or pay in euros!
  • Convenience: We handle the full booking and payment process.
  • Support: We’re your advocates from initial planning through final pedal stroke.
Contact us with any questions about booking and paying for your tour through BikeTours.com. We look forward to serving you!

The Chain Gang Cycle Tours Booking Conditions
All bookings are made and accepted in accordance with the terms set out in these conditions.

If you cancel your booking

If you, or any member of your party, find it necessary to cancel a booking once it has been confirmed, you may transfer the reservation to another suitable person. A new booking form must be completed, and a charge of £80 per person will be made to cover the administration costs invoiced. You should note that the travel element of the cycling holiday may not be transferable. Cancellation will become effective upon receipt of written notification from you, and the following cancellation charges will be due:

  • More than 42 days before departure date Deposit only
  • Between 28 and 42 days before departure date 40% of total
  • Between 21 and 28 days before departure date 50% of total
  • Between 14 and 20 days before departure date 70% of total
  • Between 1 and 13 days before departure date 90% of total
  • On or after the departure date 100%

If you alter your booking
If you find it necessary to make a significant alteration to your booking (e.g. transfer the date of your biking holiday or change the travel arrangements) once the booking has been confirmed by the tour operator, the company will do its best to accommodate your changes, which must be specified in writing. However, we reserve the right to apply the cancellation charges set out below if the amendment is made within 8 weeks of departure. If, after the bike tour commences you decide to change your bike tour in any way (e.g. change accommodation or duration of stay) you are effectively altering the contract. The tour operator cannot accept liability for any loss, damage or additional expense and no refund will be made.

If we alter your booking
In the event of any significant alteration to the published itinerary of any of our bike tours prior to departure you will be notified as soon as possible. If you find the alterations unacceptable you may transfer to another bike tour. We will then pay you compensation of £20 per person for any inconvenience caused unless the reason for the alteration is force majeure, defined as unusual or unforeseen circumstances beyond the Company’s control, the consequences of which could not have been avoided by the Company, even with the exercise if all due care. Alternatively, you may cancel your reservation and receive a full refund of your deposit and any sum that you have paid to the tour operator, which shall constitute a full settlement.

If we cancel your booking
If we find it necessary to cancel a booking we will make every effort to offer a suitable alternative bike tour. If this is not acceptable we will refund your deposit and any other sum you have paid to the tour operator which shall constitute a full Settlement. You will also receive compensation of £20 per person for any inconvenience caused if the cancellation is made within 8 weeks of departure unless the minimum number of persons upon which the trip is costed (8) fail to make bookings (in which case you will be informed 4 weeks before the departure of the trip) or for reasons of force majeure.

The tour operator reserves the right to cancel, without any obligation to refund or make alternative arrangements, where the customer fails to make payment or otherwise the client’s behaviour brings the bike tour to an end.

The tour operator also reserves the right to decline to accept, or to retain, any person as a client if their conduct is disruptive and affecting the enjoyment of other participants of the bike tour, and we shall be under no liability for any costs incurred by such a person as a result of us doing so.

Accommodation
The cost of each trip is based upon accommodation in twin-bedded rooms. Those requesting single rooms will be charged a single room supplement, and should be aware that single rooms are of limited availability, and when they are not, double rooms used for single occupancy may sometimes be of an inferior standard. In paying a single room supplement you are almost inevitably ensuring privacy rather than comfort. However, in the event of a single traveller who has requested a shared room receiving a single room, no supplement will be charged. The nature of accommodation and cuisine on each bike tour is described in the itinerary. Reservations are accepted on the understanding that, whilst each hotel is usually among the most characteristic and comfortable available, you are fully aware that limitations imposed by the itineraries make it inevitable that the character, and sometimes the standard, of accommodation and cuisine may vary from place to place, and that in some circumstances accommodation may be in a hotel other than that featured in the itinerary.

Price of the trip
We guarantee that the price of your holiday will not be subject to any surcharges once a booking has been confirmed, except as a result of government action, a drop in the Sterling exchange rate, or an increase in air fares. Even in this case we will absorb the equivalent of 2% of the holiday price, excluding insurance. Should the increase be in excess of 10% you will be entitled to cancel your bike tour and receive a full refund of all monies paid, excepting any payment made to us for insurance or amendment fees. Should you decide to cancel you must exercise this right within 14 days of the date shown on the surcharge invoice. Holiday costs are based on the mid-rate of exchange for the Euro offered by Barclays Bank Plc on October 10 2013. Rate £1: €1.1792.

Eurostar Times and Schedules
We endeavor to ensure that all information regarding train times and prices is accurate at the time of going to press, but we reserve the right to alter the detailed arrangements for each trip. We act only as agents for the train companies and their licensed agents, and are subject to the standard terms and conditions offered by these companies and the laws of the countries in which they operate.

Health and Fitness
Bookings are accepted on the understanding that all persons traveling are normally in good health. If this is in doubt the Booking Form must be accompanied by a doctor’s certificate stating that it is entirely safe for you to go on the particular holiday you have chosen.

Passport, Visa, Health and Insurance Requirements
For UK residents traveling to the countries in which we operate, a full British passport is a requirement of entry. There are no recommended or compulsory health formalities for the countries we visit. It is a European Union requirement that anybody booking a ‘package’ holiday must have appropriate travel and health insurance, and if this is not arranged by the tour operator you will be required to present evidence of appropriate insurance before commencement of your holiday. Insurance cover can also be provided for residents of Europe under the BritSure policy offered by All Seasons Underwriting Agencies Ltd. Please ask for details.

The full schedule of benefits is set out below and this conforms with EC law concerning adequate travel insurance as a condition of booking for Tour Operators.

Type of Cover Maximum Cover

A. Loss of deposit, Cancellation, Curtailment Final invoice cost

B. Medical expenses £5,000,000

C. Hospital benefits £1,000

D. Personal accident £15,000

E. Personal luggage and money £1,750

F. Delayed/missed departure £100/£1,000

G. Legal expenses £15,000

H. Personal liability £2,000,000

Full details of the terms and conditions of insurance cover are available on request. This insurance policy is arranged by NJ Heritage Partnership Limited, and the policy is taken out with NJ Heritage Partnership Limited, not with the tour operator. The above summary of cover relates to residents of the UK only.

Full details of the terms and conditions of insurance cover are available on request.

Liability
Please note that the tour operator cannot accept responsibility for any loss or damage to your luggage or personal property, nor for any other loss, damage, inconvenience, delay, illness, fatal or other injury suffered by you as a result of making a reservation with us, unless it can be shown that the company is in breach of its contractual and legal duty. In the event of you accepting any payment from the tour operator, where it involves responsibility of a third party, this will be made on condition that you assign your rights to us to claim in your place, and fully cooperate if we wish to enforce those rights.

Complaints
Any complaints should be communicated to the Company’s representative as soon as it arises. Failure to notify our representative at the time, providing the Company with an opportunity to rectify the cause of the complaint, may result in your loss of any legal rights in respect of the particular matter. If the issue is not resolved, then the complaint should be made in writing to the tour operator at the Company address within 28 days of the end of your trip. This contract is governed by English law and is subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales.

All photos used by permission. ©The Chain Gang

Ratings

Ratings Snapshot

  • 5 Star 4
  • 4 Star 2
  • 3 Star 0
  • 2 Star 0
  • 1 Star 0

Average Ratings

  • Overall

    4.7

  • Difficulty level (Actual vs. expected) 3.2
  • Value 4.3
  • Included meals 4.5
  • Bikes & equipment 4.7
  • Hotels or boat 4.7
  • Scenery 5
  • Ease of navigation 3.3
  • Tour documents 3.8
  • Local tour company services 4.3
  • Route selection 4.7
  • Guides (if applicable) 5

Reviews

Rosann October 7, 2018

Absolutely fabulous trip. Weather was gorgeous, setting was amazing, hosts also wonderful but if doing the self guided tour be prepared for some lost an found adventures. The route sheets sometimes required interpretation especially in villages where instructions like cross railway turn left so that track is on your right doesn’t make sense, others included take the gravel track up a steep hill - there were 4 tracks only one paved. This one also interesting as we went through on a Sunday - hunters had just shot a wild boar :0| Also suggest taking an extended tool kit- we had a flat on aMonday - local bike shop closed - the tyre was stuck to the rim on one side- had to prize the tyre off the rim with screw driver. Phone call to organizers were not returned- hotel owner very helpful but not a mechanic. We still had a great trip though and will definitely do another with this crew again.

Gennie August 10, 2017

Southern France in the Summer

The tour of Provence was absolutely beautiful! I suggest anyone considering a trip to France to do this tour, however, not in late summer. Temps exceeded 100 degrees most every afternoon. Tour cue sheets need some tweeking. We had to backtrack on several occasions. The written packet should also include a description of what to expect on that day of tour. Relying on what is written on this website is not always accurate and needs more information. We would have missed some very interesting places if not directed by locals and hotel concierges.

Ellen June 30, 2017

Everything We Dreamed Of!

This bike tour was perfect in every way. The guide was helpful, friendly, knowledgeable and fun! The food was superb, the hotels delightful, and the scenery was amazing. We rode mostly on smaller, off-the-beaten-track roads - some paved, some gravel - which was easy on the hybrid Trek bikes. Each day brought new vistas, small cafes in tiny villages, and great camaraderie among the travelers. It was very hot when we did this trip, but we stopped often which, for us, made the trip even better as we got to really see and experience each place along the way. I would say that this tour is not for the novice bike rider, as some of the climbs in the mountains were challenging but it was exactly what we had hoped for - lots of smooth, flat and lots of uphill into the scenic old villages of the Alpilles and in Luberon. Some training is suggested for the long days in the saddle or if you go during the hottest part of the summer. Overall, this trip was exactly what we dreamed of!

freemand2b June 14, 2017

Provence Bike trip

We arrived a day early and the tour operator provided us bikes to use that day which we spent riding through and around Avignon. France is a very bike friendly place. We were the first of the season and the tour operator came in person to orient us. We were self guided group of four. Two of us speak French but one could easily do this with English only. We have been to Europe many times (first time on a bike ride) and in the past some 3 star hotels could be marginal but I have to say the quality of the hotels exceeded my expectations. Hotel operators were very nice and welcoming. We were given a recommendation for dinners. Some we used others not depending on how we felt that evening. The landscape and tour route was excellent and we were able to visit many different sites and points of interest. We took a few wrong turns but in general the provided maps and instructions were good. Google maps was a good compliment. The luggage was there waiting at each of the next hotels with no issues. The only thing I wish is that we had extra days at each of the stays to explore the towns more. Had a great time.

KathiD October 20, 2016

We began in Avignon and ended in Avignon!

We came to Avignon 2 days early so that we could become acclimated to the time zone difference. The tour operator very nicely delivered our rental bikes the day after we arrived. Therefore, we had the bikes for travel in and out of Avignon before we started our sel-guided tour.\. This was great because the wonderful Hotel La Ferme was about 3 miles outside of the city.

DaveL May 23, 2016

France Provence bike tour with Chain Gang

This was an amazing way to experience southern France, Provence. The tour company, tour guides, scenery, food were all great!