VBT’s Bike Tour of Provence

Whether you’re looking for history, art, wine, fine dining or inspirational vistas, you’ll find what you’re after on a bike tour of Provence. Though the region is generally noted for its countryside, the tree-lined avenue of its capital, Aix, is sure to give travelers the characteristic sense of romance associated with southeastern France.

Bike Tour of Provence, Aix en Provence

Take some time to stroll along Cours Mirabeau, perhaps stopping in at one of the cafés that Paul Cézanne and Émile Zola worked in. As you wander about the city you’ll note its historical feel. Aix was initially settled over two thousand years ago, due to its natural hot springs. Accordingly, ornate fountains, bubbling with naturally warm water, adorn the city’s ancient streets. Before departing, both the Musee des Tapisseries and one of the city’s largest structures, the church of Saint-Jean-de-Malte, also warrant a visit.

Hopefully, your visit to Cézanne’s Aix has gotten you prepared to ride along the country roads and villages that inspired his work. As you bike away from the city, however, you’re sure to note the Provencal landscapes immortalized by none other than the Dutch master, van Gogh.

Bike Tour of Provence

Head northwest, perhaps pausing in Salon to fuel up on baguettes, croissants and a rich espresso and you’ll eventually come upon Saint Remy—the evening cityscape that inspired van Gogh’s “The Starry Night.” With plenty of fine restaurants and quaint cafes packed into a small cobblestoned village, Saint Remy is a perfect spot to spend an evening unwinding after a nice long ride. Before setting off on your next ride, you might wander through Saint Remy’s main square, explore Saint Paul de Mausole, where van Gogh spent a year prior to his death, or perhaps visit the home where Nostradamus was born.

Next, hop on your bike and make your way to the ancient, fortified village of Les Baux. This ride, through the heart of the Alpilles Mountains, is a bit of a challenge, but also quite a treat. As you climb to the mountain pass, you’ll see Roman ruins speckled along the slopes below the limestone cliffs overhead. At the top, enjoy a quick break looking down at the valley before whisking past unspoiled vineyards en route to Les Baux. Be sure to set aside plenty of time to take in the tiny commune, which is, in part, built right into the ruins of an ancient castle. Atop the ruins you’ll enjoy a stunning view of Provence, even besting the scene you took in on your ride through the Alpilles, and that’s saying quite a bit.

Bike Tour of Provence

Continue your bike tour of Provence along the base of the Alpilles over the Rhone River and finally passing over Pont du Gard. The Roman aqueduct was constructed in the first century to provide water to the city of Nimes. This outstanding example of Roman engineering was originally designed to be held together only by friction, and no mortar was used in its construction. It has, however, been rebuilt and restored since then. A series of clamps help hold the massive aqueduct together, ensuring a safe walk across one of the world’s oldest, great structures.

Bike Tour of Provence

Before wrapping up your Provence bike tour and, perhaps, moving on to Paris, spend some time in Avignon. This bustling, fortified city is home to another famous ancient construction, Le Pont d’Avignon. The 12th century bridge once spanned the width of the Rhone. However, the years have taken their toll on the stone thoroughfare and less of it remains than that of Pont du Gard. Yet, most would agree that the four remaining arches serve as a stunning complement to the ancient city’s façade. Meander within the city walls, chat with the locals over a glass of Côtes du Rhône and grab a photo or two of the medieval Papal palace before departing southern France’s City of Popes.

See all of this and more on a bike tour of Provence with VBT.

 

Lima to Cusco: Journey Through Peru

As you begin your Journey Through Peru, be sure to take some time out to enjoy the highlights of its exciting capital, Lima. Resting on the edge of the South Pacific Ocean, Lima is as much shrouded in history as it is cloaked in a fleeting mist. As its desert air mingles with ocean breezes a silky light fog roams in and out of the city’s streets, softening its contrast of colonial and modern architecture.

Plaza de Armas

Winding along cliffs over the Pacific, a stroll through Miraflores’ El Malecón is a great way to enjoy an afternoon among Lima’s gardens and seaside setting. After your walk, venture into the city to take in Museo Larco, a stunning sight dedicated to pre-Colombian art and ceramics. Then, perhaps amble over to the state-run museum, Museo Nacional de Arqueología Antropología e Historia del Perú to enjoy over 100,000 historical Peruvian artifacts. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, indulge in some local Peruvian cuisine. Featuring nods to its Cuyuni population as well as its Inca heritage, the city’s gastronomical community has enjoyed a celebrated emergence in recent years. Finally, before setting off for the nation’s interior take in the architectural jewels of Lima’s main square, Plaza de Armas.

Santo Domingo Cathedral

On to greater heights; Peru’s awe-inspiring Sacred Valley is truly the journey’s reward. Contrasting the colonial architecture of Cusco, the Pisac ruins serve as a great introduction to the region’s myriad traces of a lost empire. Trekking along ancient trails, and through the welcoming villages of the Andes, most travelers will ultimately make their way to the iconic Inca Trail.

Sun Gate

Our link to Machu Picchu and one of the most important parts of the Inca Road system, the Inca Trail is an 8 mile trek toward one of the Seven Wonders of the World. A steady, gradual incline frames your approach upon Machu Picchu and the surrounding mountains, cloud forests and verdant valleys below make this trip a true bucket list experience. Arriving at Intipunku, the Sun Gate, get your first glimpse of the “Lost City.” Linger as long as you like to gaze down into the stone structures of Machu Picchu and after catching your breath press downward, to eventually stand face-to-face with over five centuries of history.

BeerAt day’s end, toast your discovery with a chicha or two, an Andean beer made from fermented corn, chat with the locals and savor your journey before resting up for another day of travel in Peru.

Discover the wonders of the Incas for yourself this year on VBT’s Peru: Machu Picchu & The Sacred Valley walking vacation.