Depart from the U.S.
The particulars of your arrival overseas are detailed with your flight
itinerary and airline tickets.
Day 2 - Arrive in Marseilles and transfer to your Aix-en-Provence hotel
Upon arrival at Marseilles (MRS) Airport, claim your luggage
and clear customs. If your luggage is lost, fill in a PIR form before leaving
the customs area – VBT representatives are not allowed into the customs area.
Make sure that your VBT luggage tags are attached to your bags. This helps the
representative identify you.
After exiting customs, enter the arrival hall and look for
your VBT representative or driver, who will be holding a VBT sign. Your
representative will welcome you to France
and arrange for your transfer via taxi or van to your Aix-en-Provence hotel (approximately 45
minutes, depending upon traffic). Please verify with your VBT Trip Leader the
time of your transfers at the end of your trip from your Paris hotel to the Paris Charles de Gaulle
airport. Important: If you are delayed in meeting your VBT representative at
the Marseille Airport,
please call 04 42 93 01 44 from within France. Outside of France, call
+33 442 93 01 44
VBT provides you with City Information in your Final Travel
Booklet that includes information and recommendations on what to see and do in Aix-en-Provence. Use the
rest of the day to relax or begin exploring the city. Dinner is on your own.
Day 3 - Transfer to Avignon/Meet Trip Leaders/Transfer to Saint-Rémy de Provence
VBT No-Air Package guests: Meet at the first hotel in
Saint-Rémy-de-Provence by 2:30 pm. If you arrive by train into Avignon, take a taxi at your own expense
(approximately €45/$60 USD, approximately 25 minutes’ traveling time). Please
contact the hotel to advise the staff of any travel delays or changes, and they
will pass your message to your VBT Trip Leaders.
VBT Air Package and Pre-Trip Extension guests: Meet your VBT
representative in the hotel lobby at 11:00 am. and transfer by bus to Saint-Rémy-de-Provence
(approximately 1 hour).
Our inviting hotel here has magnificent views over the Alpilles Mountains. You have free time to stroll
into town for lunch on your own and relax on the hotel grounds as you settle
in. Please note that rooms may not be ready until 3:00 pm. At 2:30 pm., we meet
our VBT Trip Leaders for a short introduction, followed by a safety and
bike-fitting session and warm-up ride. Tonight, attend a welcome wine reception
Day 4 - Explore Arles
After breakfast, we cycle through beautiful countryside to
Arles, a city with Greek roots dating back to the 6th century BC. It was
actually the Romans who built the city's most impressive monument, the grand
amphitheater. We take some time to explore this magnificent site. Explore the narrow
and winding streets between ancient buildings, where it’s likely Vincent van
Gogh strolled during the 14 months he stayed here, producing 200 paintings.
In the afternoon, we return to Saint-Rémy-de-Provence for
relaxation and swimming. Or take a stroll through the car-free village. You'll
see many restored ancient houses, some with Renaissance facades, as well as
impressive hotels that have been converted to museums and galleries. Browse the
narrow cobbled streets and craft shops. This evening is free for you to try one
of the wonderful local restaurants.
Day 5 - Cycle to Les Baux
Breathtaking scenery and excellent cycling await us after
breakfast, as we cycle into the heart of the Alpilles to Les Baux de Provence.
We stop at some interesting sites along the way, such as the ancient fortress
of Les Baux, which sits on an 800-foot rocky plateau.
The beautiful village of Les Baux has many lookouts with
stunning views of Arles, the Camargue and the Alpilles. Its people are proud of
their cultural heritage and the many historic monuments the village claims.
Walking through Les Baux is like viewing an architectural display: its church,
château, town hall, hospital, chapels, houses and doorways all merit more than
a passing glance.
Have lunch on your own here, then we cycle toward
Saint-Rémy-de-Provence through the gentle countryside that inspired van Gogh to
create more than 150 paintings. A local historian, Mathilde Hamel, meets us in
Saint-Rémy and guides us to many of the places pictured in van Gogh's works.
The village, which is closed to traffic, has ancient restored houses,
Renaissance facades and impressive hotels that have been converted to museums
and galleries. Stroll the narrow cobblestone streets, browse the craft shops,
and dine in the town that was once the painter's muse.
Afterward, visit a local friend,
Odile Mifsud, a well-known pastry chef and visit her home to enjoy her
Day 6 - Discover the heart of Les Alpilles
After breakfast, if you haven't yet had the opportunity to
stroll through a local market, don't miss the Saint-Rémy weekly market. Later,
prepare for what may be the most beautiful cycling of the entire week as we
ride through pristine Provençal countryside, passing olive fields and the
Alpilles Mountains. A small chain extending from the Luberon, the Alpilles are
not very wide but rise dramatically out of the Rhône Valley. Their foothills
are flanked by the Durance and Rhône rivers. As you cycle, stop to wander
through timeless villages, such as Eygalières, and enjoy a picnic in a cool
field, shaded by olive or almond trees, before continuing back to Saint-Rémy.
If you want more riding, our longer option offers even more gorgeous scenery.
Tonight is free for you to have dinner on your own in town.
Day 7 - Explore Pont du Gard
After breakfast, shuttle by private motorcoach to the Pont
du Gard, where you walk across this stunning architectural achievement. Built
by the Romans in the first century BC (and declared a UNSECO World Heritage
Site in 1985), the Pont du Gard is just one segment of a 31-mile-long aqueduct
created to provide needed water to the city of Nîmes. Much of the aqueduct has
deteriorated over time, but this most impressive part still stands. Consisting
of three levels, this bridge appears surprisingly delicate despite the massive
stones used in its construction and credited for its enduring strength. As you
cross the lower level, you can see these stones, some of which weigh up to six
tons, held by iron clamps. Interestingly, the structure was built entirely
without mortar. After exploring the Pont du Gard, spend the afternoon cycling
through wine country and a beautiful forested area on the way to your hotel.
Once settled in, you have time to relax, before gathering with the group for
Day 8 - Guided tour of Avignon
Sleep in this morning, then linger over breakfast before
cycling southeast toward Avignon,
fabled “City of the Popes.” Leave your bike outside the ancient city walls and
stroll the timeless cobblestone streets. We'll meet a local guide for a walking
tour of this ancient city. Later, you may decide to explore some of the city's
highlights, such as the former papal residence, the immense Palais de Papes (Papal Palace).
Now a museum, this Gothic building has walls up to 18 feet thick! Or perhaps
you'll walk the surviving section of the Pont d'Avignon. Built in the 12th
century, this bridge originally spanned the Rhône, but has suffered frequent
collapses from floods. Only 4 of the original 22 arches remain.
The remainder of the day is yours to do with as you please. During
your free time, you may wish to buy some local pottery or a handmade
tablecloth. Try lunch at one of the local bistros, or enjoy a picnic by the
river. In the afternoon, you can cycle or shuttle back to the hotel. Tonight,
celebrate with your fellow travelers during a special farewell dinner.
Day 9 - Transfer to Avignon
TGV railway station/VBT No-Air Package
VBT No-Air Package guests: After breakfast, transfer to the
Avignon TGV train station, arriving at approximately 9:35 a.m. Your tour ends
here. Important: Train departures from the Avignon TGV train station prior to 10:10
a.m. are not recommended. If you depart earlier, you must make transfer
arrangements from the last hotel to the train station at your own expense
(approximately €35/$52 USD, with a travel time of about 20 minutes).
VBT Air Package guests: After breakfast, transfer to the
Avignon TGV train station via private motorcoach, arriving at approximately
9:35 a.m., and continue by high-speed train to Paris. Upon arrival in the City
of Light, you are met by a VBT representative and transferred to your centrally
located hotel. VBT provides you with City Information in your Final Travel
Booklet that includes information and recommendations on what to see and do in
Day 10 - Depart for U.S.
After breakfast*, transfer to the Paris Charles De Gaulle
airport for your return flight. Please ensure you are ready in the hotel
reception area at the designated time.
*Please note: For guests with early-morning departures,
breakfast at the hotel may not be available. Please check with the Front Desk
to verify the times that breakfast is served.
Please note: VBT transfer times and departure points are
finalized in advance and cannot be modified for individual guests. If you
extend your stay beyond the scheduled program dates, return transportation to
the airport will be at your own expense.