Provence Bike Tour Write a review
Provence evokes much that is desirable in life: beautiful scenery, fine food and wine, and the irresistible joie de vivre of its people. Cycle past medieval hilltop towns, fields of lavender, and rows of vineyards, then stop along the way at a local cafe for a delicious lunch and a glass of cool rosé. We cycle the back roads of the Vaucluse and Drôme regions, exploring charming villages and the wilder north flank of the Mont Ventoux. You can even ride to the summit to get a taste of what it’s like for the riders in the Tour de France. Full vehicle support and beautiful boutique hotels each night mean you travel in comfort and style.
Luggage is transferred by van. 2 nights Saint Paul Trois Châteaux, 3 nights Vaison la Romaine, and 2 nights near Bédoin. Trip ends in Avignon.
Trip Design: We designed this tour to enable both novice and expert cyclists to discover the joy of cycling in Provence, and also to increase the chance of having the wind at our backs! We begin in northwestern Provence and gradually make our way to the north side of the Mont Ventoux, famous as a magnificent feature of the Provençal landscape and also as a grueling stage of the Tour de France. Every day offers a beautiful and relatively easy ride along quiet roads that link the charming villages and hamlets of the area with challenging options for stronger riders. We have found that this is an excellent formula for couples and friends who have disparate riding skills. Have a look at the video below to see more about the trip (the biking segments are taken from the exciting (and optional) ride through the Gorges de la Nesque!)
Provence Bike Tour itinerary
Make your way independently to the Montélimar train station (there are regular rail connections with Paris, a 3-4 hour journey). Meet your guides around 3:30 p.m. (exact time to correspond with trains from Paris) for a half-hour van transfer to our first night’s accommodation at the Hotel l’Esplan (or similar) in Saint Paul Trois Châteaux. Dinner tonight in the excellent hotel dining room. Overnight Saint Paul Trois Châteaux. Hotel and dinner included.
Our ride takes us up onto a little-used ridge road that links small stone hamlets and isolated farms before dropping down into the valley and the village of Grignan, the perfect stop for a mid-morning café au lait. Grignan is famous for its imposing 16th-century château which sits high up on a rocky spur. The ride continues past fields of lavender to the walled village of Richerenches which was formerly a bastion of the Knights Templar. Here we lunch beneath the shade of enormous plane trees. A short, flat afternoon ride takes us home. Optional wine tasting at Chateau Gourdon, whose excellent Veilles Vignes Cotes du Rhone is made from the fruit of 100 year old vines. Dine tonight in a lively bistro in the village square. Mileage: 50 km (31 mi) with longer options. Overnight Saint Paul Trois Châteaux. Hotel, breakfast and dinner included.
A gorgeous ride awaits us as we leave the Drôme region and head south towards the Mont Ventoux. On our way we stop in Villedieu, one of our favorite places because of its colorful village square, complete with enormous shade trees, sparkling fountain, bakery and café. Our destination is the remarkable town of Vaison-la-Romaine, which features extensive Roman ruins, a beautifully preserved Medieval upper village, and a vibrant town center with dozens of shops, cafes and bistros. We stay in the heart of town at the Hotel Burrhus (or similar) which is an “Art” hotel with a great central location. It also has a lovely terrace where we relax and enjoy an aperitif overlooking the main square. Dinner in the Medieval village. Mileage: 50 km (31 mi) with longer options. Overnight Vaison-la-Romaine. Hotel, breakfast and dinner included.
The town buzzes with life this morning as it hosts the weely Grand Marché, considered the best of all Provençal markets. Hundreds of stalls sell handicrafts, linens, ceramics, herbs, soaps, and food, including olives prepared in every conceivable way. Partake in this quintessential Provençal experience in the morning and then meet up to explore the rest the old town, including the 2,000 year old Roman ruins and the dramatic medieval town, built in the 8th century as protection against invasions and hostile neighbors. Our afternoon ride meanders through the Côtes du Rhone wine villages of Rasteau and Cairanne, where we stop for a wine tasting along the way. Tonight is a free night dinner so you can choose to go big at one of the gastronomique restaurants or just enjoy some wine and cheese on the terrace. Mileage: 40 km (25 mi) with longer options possible. Overnight Vaison-la-Romaine. Hotel & breakfast included. Dinner not included.
Today’s ride takes us to the most remote part of the region as we ride along the northern edge of Mont Ventoux. This area is sparsely populated but still dotted with picturesque hilltop villages like Brantes. We follow the emerald-coloured waters of the Gorges du Toulourenc to return to our hotel in Vaison. As this is one of the most challenging days of the trip, our support vehicle can offer riders a lift to the top of the pass for an easier ride back to our hotel. Dine tonight at a small wine bistro in town. Mileage: 55 km (35 mi), or up to 70 km (45 mi). Overnight Vaison-la-Romaine. Hotel, breakfast and dinner included.
From Vaison la Romaine we ride through the wine village of Gigondas towards the Dentelles de Montmirail on our way to Bédoin. The Dentelles are short, steep mountains with a distinctive rocky limestone ridge. We have lunch in the quaint village of Beaumes de Venise, which is famous for its sweet Muscat wine. The afternoon ride passes by some of the most beautiful villages in France, Caromb and Crillon le Brave, which are perched high on a hill with breathtaking views onto the slopes of Mont Ventoux. We stay at a charming hotel just outside of Bédoin village, the Hotel des Pins (or similar) Unwind by the pool or in a hammock after your ride. We have dinner at the hotel where the chef creates recipes based on local seasonal products but with an exotic touch. Dinner and overnight near Bédoin. Mileage: 50 km (30 mi) with a longer options available. Overnight Bédoin. Hotel, breakfast and dinner included.
We have several fun options today, from the relaxing to the epic. You can choose a classic ride to picturesque hilltop villages, all linked by the beauty of the Provençal countryside. Or test your mettle against “The Giant of Provence” — the mighty Mont Ventoux — that towers over the surrounding countryside. Serious cyclists can pedal their way to the summit, where, on a clear day, you may see both the Alps and the Pyrénées. Our final option is as spectacular as the Ventoux but MUCH easier: bike the gradual but stunning Gorge de la Nesque, whose average grade is only 3%! Members of the group can choose to do different options and then meet up again tonight for one last dinner together at the hotel. Mileage: 50 km (30 mi) with Mont Ventoux and Gorge de la Nesque option. Overnight Bédoin. Hotel, breakfast and dinner included.
After breakfast, we offer a van transfer to the Avignon TGV train station for high-speed rail connections to Paris, Nice and other destinations. Or you may want to spend some time in this fascinating and vibrant Provencal city which is a UNESCO World Heritage site thanks to its 14th century Papal Palace. It is also the perfect base for a day excursion to the famed vineyards of Chateauneuf du Pape. Breakfast and transfer included.
Provence tourism: general site on the region and its food, arts, & activities
Orange Roman Theater: official site of this amazing monument, lots of good info
Côtes du Rhône: very informative site on one of France’s best wine families
Mont Ventoux: interesting Wikipedia entry, including lots of Tour de France stats
UNESCO World Heritage Sites: look at all the fabulous things to see in France!
Activity rating: 3 out of 5 = Moderate. It's a mix of flat and gently rolling terrain with the occasional sustained climb of up to 4 kms plus some short but steep ascents and descents. Daily activity is 4 to 5 hours, max distance 60 kms (38 miles). In short: there is fabulously scenic moderate riding with many options to turn this into a challenging tour.
What is included: All accommodations (2 nights Saint Paul Trois Châteaux, 3 nights Vaison la Romaine, 2 nights Bédoin); 7 breakfasts and 6 dinners; bilingual guides; support vehicle; guided tours as noted in the itinerary; all luggage and transfers, including pick-up from the Montélimar train station and final transfer to the Avignon TGV train station; hybrid bicycle rental (road bikes and possibily even e-bikes are available for an additional supplement). All departures are accompanied by two guides.
Booking: e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org to receive a booking contract (or use the 'Contact Us' link at the top of this page), or click on the 'Book Now' button to the right.
Insurance: We highly recommend the purchase of Trip Insurance. We recommend “Travel Guard” to our North American clients, just click on the logo below. Australian, New Zealander, and British travelers, please consult your insurance brokers.
Getting There: the trip starts in Montélimar, which is easily accessible by rail from Paris or Avignon.
Air: most intercontinental flights fly into Paris “Charles de Gaulle” but you can also fly into smaller airports in Provence like the new Marseille “MP2″ airport, the small Avignon airport, or the Nimes airport served by Ryan Air flights. The airport of Lyon is also a good choice, as Lyon is only 1.5 hrs by train from Montelimar. For a complete list of French airports and a selection of low-cost airlines, see our "Transport Info" page. At the bottom of the page you will also find information about the French railway system (the SNCF).
Rail: there is no direct TGV (high-speed train) from Paris to Montélimar, so you have to change in either Valence or Lyon “Part Dieu” and pick up another TGV or a regional “Corail” train. You can also take a train north from Avignon if you’re coming from the south. Avignon is on the direct TGV line from Paris, journey time around 2 hrs 45 minutes. Trains from Marseille take about 40 minutes. See current train schedules at the SNCF website here.
Getting Away at the End of the Trip: the trip ends in Avignon, with a van transfer to the TGV train station. There are 10:00 trains to Paris as well as Marseille. Please note: there are 2 train stations in Avignon, one in the center for regional trains and the newer TGV station, which is connected to the central station by TER regional train (or of course taxi).
If you book a trip with us you will receive detailed information about how to get to the start of your trip, or feel free to e-mail us with any specific travel questions.
I went on this trip with my wife and small group of friends. The activity was tailored to everyone's biking abilities. Both Brett and Claire were fantastic guides and so informative and entertaining. The Castles, Chateaus, Churches and ruins were incredible and the history lessons and conversations were so informative. They were masters at improvising and adjusting our agenda as we went based on what was happening and what everybody wanted to do. The food was amazing everywhere we went. Many of the lunch stops were places the locals ate at which really added to our overall Provence experience. The Markets and small shops were so much fun to explore and we brought home several treasures that will forever remind us of our trip. The last day My wife, Brett and I climbed the Ventoux which was a serious challenge but made so much better by Brett's company especially his humor. We had so much fun and are already talking about going on another tour with Custom Walks and have started recruiting friends to go with us. So much fun!!! I would definitely recommend Custom Walks. Thank you Brett and Claire you're the Best!
A great tour, suitable for keen cyclists and recreational riders. Beautiful scenery in quiet country areas, great food and wonderful guides with plenty of knowledge to impart. A small friendly group and options to keep everyone happy. I loved the physical activity balancing out the delicious food, and the terrific company. Customwalks are great tour operators.
Formidable! I enjoyed this trip and loved that we were in a part of the world where the Tour de France has been. But, I also appreciated that there were options on the day of the Mont Ventoux climb. I especially loved the lavender fields and the outdoor markets. The tour was well researched to be out of the tourist mainstream.