Bicycling and Walking Vacations Since 1971 Call a VBT Tour Consultant: (800) 245-3868

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
  • Easy / Moderate
  • Plane

Why You'll Love This Tour

Overview

Provence: The Alpilles

Stunning alpine vistas and verdant countryside, thousands of years of rich history, a well-deserved reputation for sumptuous food and fine wine…it’s all right here, in Provence. And you can experience it all in little more than a week on this comprehensive bicycling vacation. On a blend of guided tours and on your own, you’ll view breathtaking Roman and medieval monuments, stroll cobbled lanes once trod by artists and popes, and enjoy some of the most scenic cycling you’ll ever encounter. You’ll also dine in local homes, sip the region’s wine and experience local life up close in true VBT style!

Cultural Highlights

  • Drop your jaw at the breathtaking views from the beautiful village of Les Baux
  • Cycle through gentle countryside that inspired Vincent van Gogh to create more than 150 paintings
  • Tour Saint-Rémy-de-Provence in the company of a local historian
  • Dine in the home of a French pastry chef
  • Explore the 12th-century Abbaye St. Michel de Frigolet
  • Walk across the ancient Pont du Gard, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Savor a picnic and wine tasting at a local farm
  • Visit fabled Avignon, the “City of Popes”

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 Daily Temperature (°F) – Avignon May 75°  Jun 82°  Jul 87°  Aug 87°  Sep 78°  Oct 68° Average Rainfall (in.) – Avignon May 2.5  Jun 1.7  Jul 1.3  Aug 1.8  Sep 2.6  Oct 3.3

What’s Included:

Bicycle Tour 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 $245 • Post-trip: Paris – 2 nights for only $395

Both Vacation Options Include

  • FREE use of our custom VBT bicycle and helmet
  • Service of two bilingual VBT Trip Leaders
  • FULL VAN SUPPORT
  • Daily route directions and maps
  • Welcome reception with local wine
  • Sightseeing and cultural activities
  • 5% Frequent Traveler Credit to use on your next VBT vacation
  • Special Good Buy Discount
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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. 2015 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.

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 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 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.

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 , 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 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, 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 and dinner.

VBT provides you with City Information that includes information and recommendations on what to see and do in Paris.

Hotel: Hotel de l’Image
Meals: B, D
Daily Options: 7 miles (12 km)

DAY 4: 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 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 we cycle toward Saint-Rémy-de-Provence through the gentle countryside that inspired van Gogh to create more than 150 paintings.

Later, meet your Trip Leaders and walk to meet local historian Mathilde Duvillier by the Saint-Paul Asylum, where Vincent van Gogh was a self-admitted patient. She will guide us 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. Afterwards visit inside the sanitarian where they have reproduced the layout and furnishings of Van Gogh's room.

After another short walk we are at the home of VBT friend Odile Mifsud, a well-known pastry chef. Here enjoy her home-cooked dinner.

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 heart of Les Alpilles

After breakfast, prepare for what may be the most beautiful cycling of the entire week as we 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, stop to wander through timeless villages, such as Eygalières, and experience its lovely stone-built homes clinging together along the small winding streets. Maybe enjoy a picnic in a cool field, shaded by olive or almond trees. If you want more riding, our longer option offers even more gorgeous scenery.

Tonight is free for you to stroll through the narrow cobblestone streets, browse the craft shops and admire the ancient restored houses with Renaissance facades, before dining 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, we check out of the hotel and start our ride to the Abbaye St. Michel de Frigolet. Enjoy a visit of this revered site, which dates to at least 1133.

After our visit, you have the option of either shuttling to the Pont du Gard or cycling there instead. 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 UNSECO World Heritage Site in 1985), the Pont du Gard is just one segment of a 31-mile-long aqueduct created to transport 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. Park your bike and walk across this stunning architectural achievement. As you cross the lower level, you can see stones, some of which weigh up to six tons, held by iron clamps. Remarkably, the structure was built entirely without mortar.

After exploring the Pont du Gard, we shuttle to our next hotel. Once settled in, you have time to relax, before either sampling the hotel’s restaurant or walking into town to explore the local restaurants found there.

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

DAY 7: Loop through Tavel and Lirac wine country

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

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

Tonight is free for you to explore the town of Villeneuve-les-Avignon and have 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, fabled “City of the Popes.” Leave your bike outside the 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 highlights, such as the former papal residence – the immense Palais de 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 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.

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 high-speed train to Paris. Please verify with your VBT Trip Leader 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.

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

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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 and features modern amenities, including air conditioning, cable satellite TV, wireless Internet service,  in-room safe and mini-bar.
Free WiFi Included

Hotel Aquabella

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, Hotel Aquabella offers you an exceptional environment for your active vacation. When you’re not exploring the lively city of Aix, unwind in the hotel’s spa or heated pool. Each room of the Hotel Aquabella is decorated in Provençal style and all are fully equipped with air conditioning, satellite TV, direct-dial telephone and mini-bar, and are furnished with bathrobes and slippers.
Free WiFi Included

Hotel La Magnaneraie

Hotel La Magnaneraie is located in the historic town of Villeneuve les Avignon, less than 2 miles from Avignon. Surrounded by a verdant park, this 15th-century former residence of cardinals combines the charm of an ancient mansion house with all the modern comforts, and provides an elegant and peaceful haven after an exciting day of bicycling. 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 swimming pool. Each of the 32 rooms offers air conditioning, a flat-screen TV, Internet access, an in-room safe and private bath with shower, bathrobe, slippers and hairdryer.
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 enjoy the contemporary styling of your air-conditioned room.
Free WiFi Included
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