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Provence: The Alpilles

Travel by bike and be inspired by Provence’s scenic rolling hills blanketed by vineyards that date back to ancient Rome and along the Rhône River to the Pont du Gard, an ancient Roman aqueduct and UNESCO World Heritage site. We’ll also learn about Avignon, a city once cherished by popes, and how the commune of Saint-Remy was the muse for van Gogh’s Post-Impressionist masterpiece, Starry Night.

  • 10 Days
  • Activity Level: Easy / Moderate
  • Daily Mileage: 18 - 45 mi
  • Daily Biking: 2 - 5 hr
  • Small Groups: 20
  • Biking Activity
  • Ideal for energetic beginners to more experienced riders.
  • Airfare Packages Available

Why You'll Love This Tour

Overview

Provence: The Alpilles

The Provençal light was brilliantly captured by Impressionist artists. You’ll capture it, too – on two wheels with VBT’s popular vacation. Here, the inspiration of artists is everywhere. Lush vineyards and limestone cliffs give rise to the soaring Alpilles. Bucolic roads lead to charming villages alive with colorful marchés. And breathtaking remnants from Rome’s heady days dot the dreamy landscape. We pause from invigorating rides to meet historians eager to share the secrets of St. Remy and Avignon, and to delight in French hospitality when a local pastry chef prepares us lunch in her home. The light here is brilliant, indeed.

Cultural Highlights

  • Admire stunning views of Arles, the Camargue, and the Alpilles from Les Baux
  • Visit scenes that inspired Van Gogh with a local historian
  • Discover the culinary secrets of a well-known pastry chef
  • Explore Abbaye St. Michel de Frigolet, dating to at least 1133
  • Witness the soaring Alpilles as you roll through a pristine countryside
  • Stroll the ancient Pont du Gard, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Visit a château farm for lunch and a wine tasting
  • Tour Avignon, the “City of the Popes,” with a local guide

What to Expect

This tour offers a combination of easy terrain mixed with moderate hills. Our VBT van support shuttle is always available for those who need assistance with the hills. Suitable for novice cyclists and ideal for experienced cyclists.

Average Daily Mileage: 18 – 45 Miles
Average Cycling Time: 2 – 5 hours

Climate Information

Average High/Low Temperature (°F) – Avignon
Apr 67º/45º  May 74º/51º  Jun 82º/58º  Jul 87º/61º Aug 87º/60º  Sep 78º/57º  Oct 68º/48º

Average Precipitation (in.) – Avignon
Apr 2  May 2.5  Jun 2 Jul 1.5  Aug 2  Sep 2.5  Oct 3.5

What’s Included:

Bicycle Vacation Only – without Air

  • 6 nights in 4-star French hotels
  • 10 meals – 6 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 3 dinners

Air Package Plus

  • Roundtrip international airfare
  • 8 nights in 3- and 4-star French hotels
  • 12 meals – 8 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 3 dinners
  • Transfers
  • AND the option to add our Low-Cost Trip Extensions: Pre-trip: Aix-en-Provence – 2 nights for only $295 • Post-trip: Paris – 2 nights for only $445

Both Vacation Options Include

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Air Package Plus Single Supplement: $695 | Land Only Single Supplement: $495

Please note: Web Special savings cannot be combined with any other offer. Standard Terms & Conditions apply when purchasing this trip. 2016/2017 Prices include all airline surcharges and Government taxes and fees. Ask our Tour Consultants for details. Every effort has been made to produce this information accurately. We reserve the right to correct errors. Prices are based on preferences selected above, including meals and sightseeing as specified in What’s Included. All prices are subject to change. Departure dates and prices shown may be updated several times daily, and apply to new bookings only.

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Itinerary & Map
Or, Expand All Days
DAY 1: Depart from home / Fly overnight to Marseilles

Depart from home for France. The particulars of your arrival overseas are detailed with your flight itinerary.

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). Important: If you are delayed in meeting your VBT representative at the Marseilles 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 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.

Hotel: Hotel Aquabella

DAY 3: Transfer to Saint-Rémy de Provence / Meet Trip Leaders

VBT No-Air Package guests: Meet at the first hotel in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence by 2:30 p.m. If you arrive by train into Avignon, take a taxi at your own expense (approximately 65 euros and about 25 minutes’ traveling time). If you are in Aix-en-Provence, you may take the VBT coach transfer to Saint-Rémy-de-Provence at no additional expense (approximately 1 hour). Please meet your VBT representative at 11:00 a.m. in the lobby of the Hotel Aquabella, Aix-en-Provence.

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 a.m. 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 p.m. At 2:30 p.m., meet your 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 and dinner.

Hotel: Hotel de l’Image
Meals: B (included for Air Package guests only), D
Daily Options: 7 miles (12 km)

DAY 4: Cycle to Les Baux

Breathtaking scenery and excellent cycling await you after breakfast as you roll into the heart of the Alpilles to Les Baux de Provence. 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 historic monuments throughout their village. Walking through Les Baux is like viewing an architectural museum: its church, château, town hall, hospital, chapels, houses, and doorways all merit more than a passing glance.

Have lunch on your own here. Then, cycle toward Saint-Rémy-de-Provence through the gentle countryside that inspired Van Gogh to create more than 150 paintings.

Later, meet up with your Trip Leaders and walk to meet local historian Mathilde Duvillier by the Saint-Paul Asylum, where Vincent Van Gogh admitted himself. Mademoiselle Duvillier will guide your small group to many of the places pictured in the artist’s works during his time here, enabling you to relate the scenes directly to some of his works. You’ll also venture inside the sanitarium to see the carefully reproduced layout and furnishings of Van Gogh’s room.
After another short walk, you and your travel mates arrive at the home of VBT friend Odile Mifsud, a well-known pastry chef. Here, you’ll enjoy her home-cooked dinner, flavored by the herbs of her native Provence and with a rich tradition of her family cuisine.

Hotel: Hotel de l’Image
Meals: B, D
Daily Options: 11.6 or 24.7 miles (18.7 or 39.8 km)

DAY 5: Discover the beautiful heart of Les Alpilles

After breakfast, prepare for what may be the most beautiful cycling of the entire week as you ride through pristine Provençal countryside, passing olive groves and the soaring Alpilles. 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, you can stop to wander through timeless villages. Perhaps you’ll explore Eygalières and its lovely stone-built homes lining small winding streets. Maybe enjoy a picnic in a cool field, shaded by olive or almond trees. If you’re up for a more ambitious riding day, our longer option offers even more gorgeous scenery.

Tonight is free for you to stroll Saint-Rémy’s narrow cobblestone streets, browse the craft shops, and admire the ancient restored houses with their Renaissance facades. Dinner is on your own in one of the local restaurants.

Hotel: Hotel de l’Image
Meals: B
Daily Options: 11.1, 21.7, or 37.9 miles (17.9, 34.9, or 61.1 km)

DAY 6: Explore Pont du Gard

After breakfast, ride to the Abbaye St. Michel de Frigolet. Enjoy a visit of this revered site, which dates to at least 1133.

After your visit, you may shuttle or cycle to the Pont du Gard. Whichever you choose, you’ll cross the Rhône River and arrive in the Languedoc region. Built by the Romans in the first century BC (and declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985), the Pont du Gard is just one segment of a 31-mile-long aqueduct built to transport water from a spring in Uzès to the city of Nîmes. Much of the aqueduct has deteriorated over time, but this most impressive span still stands. Consisting of three levels, this bridge appears surprisingly delicate despite the massive stones used in its construction. Park your bike and walk across this stunning architectural achievement. Remarkably, the structure was built entirely without mortar, using stones that weighed up to six tons.

After exploring the Pont du Gard, shuttle to your next hotel in Villeneuve-les-Avignon. Once settled in, you have time to relax, before either sampling the hotel’s restaurant or walking into town for other options.

Hotel: Hotel La Magnaneraie
Meals: B
Daily Options: 12, 32, or 39 miles (19, 51, or 61 km)

DAY 7: Loop through Lirac and Tavel wine country

Today’s ride takes you into the Gard district on the right bank of the Rhône River. Your route follows the agricultural plain of the Rhône River, planted mainly with apples, melons, pumpkins, asparagus, and market garden produce. Leaving the river valley, you’ll cycle through typical Provençal landscapes, vineyards, and the charming village of Lirac, renowned for its red-wine vineyards for more than 2,000 years. Here, you’ll visit an old château’s farm and enjoy a picnic prepared by your Trip Leaders. You’ll also sample some local wine in the cellar’s tasting room.

En route back to the hotel, cycle through the village of Tavel, famous for its rosé wine. Here, you may stop for an optional tasting in Les Vignerons de Tavel, a cooperative wine cellar.

Tonight is free for you to explore the town of Villeneuve-les-Avignon and enjoy dinner in one of the local restaurants.

Hotel: Hotel La Magnaneraie
Meals: B, L
Daily Options: 16, 25, or 37 miles (25, 40, or 60 km)

DAY 8: Guided tour of Avignon

Sleep in this morning, then linger over breakfast before cycling southeast toward Avignon, the fabled “City of the Popes.” Leave your bike outside the city walls and stroll the timeless cobblestone streets. Your small group will meet a local guide for a walking tour of this ancient city. Later, there’ll be time to explore some of the city’s highlights on your own, such as the former papal residence—the immense Palais des Papes (Papal Palace). Now a museum, this Gothic building was fortified with 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 its original 22 arches remain.

The rest 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, cycle or shuttle back to the hotel. Tonight, celebrate with your fellow travelers during a special farewell dinner.

Hotel: Hotel La Magnaneraie
Meals: B, D
Daily Options: 8.2 or 17.3 miles (13.2 or 27.9 km)

DAY 9: Transfer to Avignon TGV railway station / VBT No-Air Package ends

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 10:05 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 euros, 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 TGV high-speed train to Paris. Please verify with your VBT Trip Leaders the time of your transfer from your Paris hotel to the Paris Charles de Gaulle airport before leaving them. 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 recommendations on what to see and do in Paris.

Hotel: Hotel Rochester
Meals: B

DAY 10: Depart for home

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.

** 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.

Meals: B

Biking Provence Tour Map

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Accommodations

Hotel Rochester

This 4-star hotel is located a few steps from the Champs-Élysées and the Rue du Faubourg Saint Honoré, in one of Paris’ most elegant and well-known quarters. It is a very easy and safe base for exploring, shopping and taking evening strolls. Small and family-run, it exudes an ambiance of elegance, charm and Old World traditions. Relax in the hotel spa and in your room, which is decorated in a Louis XV style. Enjoy its modern amenities, including air conditioning, cable satellite TV, free wireless Internet service, in-room safe and mini-bar.
Free WiFi Included

Hotel Aquabella

The Hotel Aquabella is ideally situated in the heart of the Old Town of Aix-en-Provence, at the foot of the ancient fortifications and in the center of the markets of Provence. From this convenient location, all of Aix is just a few steps away.  When you’re not exploring the lively city of Aix, unwind in the hotel’s spa or heated pool. Elegantly decorated in Provençal style, each room is fully equipped with air conditioning, satellite TV, direct-dial telephone, minibar, bathrobes, and slippers. You’ll also enjoy free wireless Internet access throughout the hotel during your stay.
Free WiFi Included

Hotel La Magnaneraie

The Hotel La Magnaneraie is located in the historic town of Villeneuve-les-Avignon, less than two miles from Avignon. Surrounded by a verdant park, this 15th-century former residence of cardinals and onetime silkworm farm combines the charm of an ancient mansion with modern comforts, and provides an elegant and peaceful haven after an exciting day of exploring. Enjoy the beautifully decorated common areas, including a restaurant featuring many regional specialties and a spacious lounge and bar, as well as an outdoor garden with a heated swimming pool. Each of the 32 rooms offers air-conditioning, a flat-screen TV, an in-room safe and private bath with shower, bathrobe, slippers and hairdryer. Free wireless Internet service is available throughout the hotel.
Free WiFi Included

Hotel De L' Image

Located in the center of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, the Hotel de l’Image is one of Provence’s most charming hotels. Inspired by the theme of photography, it has a gallery, private collection, projection hall, and fully equipped photo lab. It also offers a restaurant, swimming pool, beautiful garden, and stunning views of the Alpilles. And you’re sure to enjoy the contemporary styling of your air-conditioned room. Free wireless Internet connections are available throughout the hotel.
Free WiFi Included
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