Self-guided: Best of Languedoc & Provence

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  • Poppies in bloom along roadside near Caux, Languedoc

Self-guided: Best of Languedoc & Provence

1,000.001,600.00

Self-guided, point-to-point cycling tour through some of the most spectacular landscapes of both the Provence and Languedoc regions. Choose your own starting date and pedal at your own pace to explore this amazingly varied terrain.

Provence offers a multitude of scenic routes. Cycle amongst the lavender fields, along the Gorges de la Nesque, and through the many picturesque villages of the Dentelle foothills. Explore the Parc Luberon, pedal along the river Sorgue, or through the Calmargue coastal flats. And for those feeling like taking on a challenge, this trip can include a supported ascent of the iconic Giant of Provence, Mont Ventoux.

The Languedoc is not only the oldest and largest wine-growing area in the world, but it is also one of the most historically interesting regions in Europe. Of 37 “Grand sites de France” areas protected for their natural beauty or historical significance, 10 are located in Languedoc. A landscape of contrasts, boasting coastline and mountains, ancient history and lively contemporary market towns full of gastronomic delights and culture. This itinerary will provide you with a taste of all of the above!

8 days

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Product Description

Lesser known amongst cyclists than its neighbour Provence, the Languedoc region abounds with great cycling routes that are perfect for the average cyclist to explore and enjoy. Get a taste of both regions in this remarkable trip.

Tour includes:

  • 7 nights accommodation in 2 or 3 star hotels or chambre d’hôtes
  • Welcome meeting to review routes and answer any questions
  • Transfer for you and your bike from Montpellier or Avignon airport or Avignon rail station
  • Luggage transfer to next destination (4 transfers)
  • 6 days self-guided cycling. We will provide route directions and GPX files for a Garmin device or similar.
  • 1 rest day with suggestions for non-cycling activities and optional ride
  • Breakfast each day

Minimum group size for this trip is 4 persons

Accommodation

All our accommodation is bike-friendly, rated 2 or 3 stars and includes breakfast each day.

Standard pricing is based on double occupancy, but single occupancy can be arranged for a supplement.

Sample itinerary

Level: medium, some hill climbs, designed for active riders (can be adjusted for recreational or more avid riders)

Arrival
We will pick you up at your arrival airport or train station and transport you and your bike to the picturesque town of Mazan, the starting point of your tour. No riding today: Take the time to settle in and explore the charming town centre

This sleepy golden-stoned village on the L’Auzon river, is steeped in history from the time of the Roman invasion. With stone houses with bright shutters and decorative balconies, old fashioned little shops, narrow cobbled alleys and gingham table cloths it is full of charm as well.

It is a key base for cyclists wanting to climb Mont Ventoux and explore the wider region.

  • View of village of Mazan, Provence with Dentelles in background
No formal cycling today.
Les Dentelles

Your first ride of the tour winds through the scenic foothills of Mont Ventoux. The area abounds with hidden valleys, hilltop hamlets and quiet back roads which give the area a unique feel and make it a ride not to be missed.

The terrain is rolling making it a great warm-up for your legs in preparation for tomorrow’s ascent of Mont Ventoux.

  • Les Dentelles, Provence
  • Distance: 63km, Climbing 1250m

    Mont Ventoux

    Today’s ride will be the most challenging of your trip. Mont Ventoux utterly dominates its surroundings in the heart of Provence. Mont Ventoux is a worthy adversary for any aspiring cyclist and merits its nickname “The Giant of Provence”.

    There are 3 possible ascents, with the classic Tour de France route starting in Bedoin. We recommend climbing via Sault and descending via Bedoin. The Sault ascent, is slightly longer and less steep. It is also more picturesque as it starts off amongst the lavender fields for which Provence is famous.

    You will leave Mazan, passing through the Gorges of Nesque before beginning your climb of Mont Ventoux. You will descend into Bedoin from where you will be transported to your next destination of Arles.

    As an option, your ride today can be fully supported with a guide and follow-on vehicle.

    • Bruce will ride with you to help you set the right personal pace for the sustained climbing and provide tips for descending confidently and safely.
    • The support vehicle will carry water and snacks as well as mechanical supplies and extra clothing to keep you fuelled and unencumbered for a long day of riding.
    • The support vehicle will follow the route stopping at flexibles intervals to allow you to refill water bottles etc.
    • If for whatever reason, you decide you do not want to continue with the climb, the support vehicle will take you to the summit.
    • Cyclist Ascending Mont Ventoux
    Distance: 65km, Climbing 1912m
    Rest day in Arles

    Arles is a key destination in Provence, both for its historical attractions such as the Roman Amphitheatre and the Romanesque cathedral of St. Tromphime, as well as its connection to the artist Van Gogh who spent substantial time here.

    The Camargue is a natural region located south of Arles which presents a stark contrast to the typical Provencal landscape. It is famous for its horses, bulls, flamingos and salt marshes. We will provide you with a mapped cycling route if you choose to explore this area.

    • Arles amphitheater, Provence
    • Camargue salt marshes
    Distance: 60km, Climbing 575m
    Arles to Sommières 

    The start of today’s route follows the flood plain of the Rhone to the towns of Tarascon and Beauclaire which face each other on each side of the river Rhone.

    Once you cross the bridge, the route slowly becomes more undulating as it meanders through the vineyards. You will pass through some of Languedoc’s most famous wine villages. Your final destination for the day is the village of Sommieres. The village has a Roman bridge, a medieval centre, a fortified gate and the ruins of a castle. It is the perfect place to relax and unwind after a day of cycling.

    Distance: 91km, Climbing: 836m
    Sommières to Gignac

    This route meanders through two distinct Languedoc wine appellations – the Terres de Sommières and then Pic-St-Loup with the dramatic Cevennes hills in the background before descending into the Gellon valley to St. Guilham le Désert.

    St-Guilhem le Désert is both the name of an abbey and the village that grew up around it. The romanesque abbey is a rare beauty and is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

    The village has retained its medieval personality with old houses in amber stone, an ancient tower, and a shady square with a fountain at its centre. Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert is counted among the Plus Beaux Villages of France. It is home to numerous artists’ studios, shops and restaurants.

    The extensive underground stalagmite caves the “Grottes of Clamouse” are nearby and are worth a visit if time permits. You will pass by the roman “Pont de Diable” as you leave St-Guilhem le Désert on your way to Gignac.

    • Abbey St Guilhem le Désert, Languedoc
    • St Guilhem le Désert, Central Square, Languedoc

    Distance: 84km, Climbing 1118m

    Gignac to Pezenas

    This route is challenging as it is full of short and sharpish hill climbs through the red rocky hills which are typical of the area, but there are also many charming villages in which to take a break.

    You will cycle thorugh the unique landscape around the Cirque de Moureze which is one of the oldest “Grand Sites” of France. The limestone rock has been carved and sculpted by erosion creating unusual rock formations resembling fairy chimneys. Keep your eyes open for the mountain goats that cling to the side of the rocks along the route.

    The route then passes by Lac Salagou providing some amazing vistas over this beautiful lake which is popular with campers and triathetes alike.

    Finish in Pezenas, which is a bustling artistic centre full of unique bars and restaurants. Pezenas’ medieval town centre is full of history and is thriving with a variety of artisans, boutiques and cafes. Pezenas was once the capital of ancient Languedoc and has maintained a regal character. Explore the pedestrian-only historic centre and the ancient Jewish Quarter. You will want to keep a camera handy. Pezenas is a local artistic hub. Pop in to the many artisan workshops and galleries; there are marked routes you can follow.

    • View of Lac Salagou, Languedoc
    • Cirque de Moureze, Languedoc
    • Road though the vines near Caux, Languedoc
    • Pezenas-with-bougainvilla

    Distance: 72km, Climbing 985m

     Morning in Pezenas and Departure

    On Saturday, there is an all-day market in the Cours Jean Jaures which is one of the largest and most vibrant in the area. Depending of the time of your flight home, it is definitely worth exploring.

    Your tour ends here. We will transport you and your bikes back to your arrival airport for your return or onward journey.

    • Pezenas weekly market, Languedoc
    • Pezenas street scene
    Distance: 60km, Climbing 680m

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