For many, Provence brings to mind lavender fields, herb-scented markets in cozy village squares, and sensual landscapes captured on the canvases of van Gogh and Cezanne. Certainly, all these things inspired us to create Provence: The Alpilles, our version of the classic France Bicycling Vacation. But they only partially explain the raison d’etre for this intimate itinerary.
It’s not lost on us that centuries of history unfolded amidst these glorious landscapes, and it won’t be lost on you either. Greeks settled here as early as 600 B.C., and their trading port at Marseilles thrived. They enjoyed 400 or so years of prosperity until the local Ligures tribes threatened to rise up against them. The growing Roman Empire was happy to help suppress the uprising, taking the region as their reward for the next 500 years. Caesar, Augustus, Constantine, and others staged a cultural boon unlike any France had seen, erecting magnificent amphitheaters, aqueducts, baths, and villas. We’ll cycle to some of these treasures, and marvel at their construction that has lasted almost two millennia. In the coming centuries, Germans, Spaniards, and Arabs all vied for Provence as a prize; and the Catholic foothold gained such strength here that the papacy ruled from Avignon’s Palais de Papes until 1423.
Every drama needs a stunning backdrop, which brings us back to what makes Provence such a cyclist’s dream. Simply put, Provence and its Alpilles won’t disappoint you any more than they did van Gogh. Bucolic country lanes and rocky plateaus lead to lovely mountain byways. Charming villages mark your progress, the buttery scent of croissants or the rich aroma of ratatouille invite you to linger a while. Go ahead … toss a game of petanque with locals while your snack settles. And we haven’t even mentioned the wine yet – Cote du Rhone vintages embody all things Provence: the rocky soil here retains the heat of day, so the Rhone grape produces a bold and full wine to help you toast your deluxe Provence Bicycling Vacation!
Learn more about Bicycling Vacations in Provence: The Alpilles.