Most people who’ve witnessed the famous Tour de France – either in person or on TV – know it’s one of the most challenging athletic events on the calendar…but what about that spectacular scenery the competitors cycle through?
While top athletes like Cadel Evans might not get the chance to truly take in the competition’s marvelous backdrop…we think travellers should!
A DIY Tour de France is definitely bucket-list worthy but where should you start?
Does cycling through picturesque vineyards and luscious lavender fields or exploring authentic markets and hill-capping villages spark your interest? Why not try Provence?
With its rich history, charming atmosphere and warm climate, Provence is welcoming to bikers of all experience levels. So, ditch the trains and rental cars—here are some tips and tricks on how to experience everything on two wheels in this stunning region of France.
There are several credible cycling tour companies that provide everything you’ll need to cycle around Provence, but if you’d like to take a self-led tour of the region here’s what we suggest bringing along:
If you don’t have room to pack these items, you can rent them along with your bike. Even if you don’t plan to take the most challenging course, before you set off we suggest checking your brakes as a precaution.
Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned rider there’s a route for you. Leisurely cycling is possible throughout the region, but if you’d like to take a more experienced route try one of these more challenging trails.
What to Explore
Whilst cycling through the picturesque vineyards and orchards of this vibrant region is a great way to take in its beauty, don’t forget to indulge in its specialties along the way!
Senanque Abbey Lavender Fields
In early summer visit Senanque Abbey, tucked away in an isolated valley near Gordes, to breath the sweet fragrance of acres upon acres of brilliant purple lavender fields.
Still the home and place of worship to Cistercian Monks, this 12th century abbey provides daily tours from February through to October— however the lavender fields are best to see during June, right before they’re harvested in late-summer.
Famous for its goat cheese, olives, lavender sachets and herbs, Provence has so much to offer and browsing through its authentic markets is the best way to immerse yourself its culture.
Stop at Arles market open Wednesday’s and Saturday’s from 8:00am to 1:00pm and try Arles sausage, olives, oils, local wines and an array of organic foods.
While you’ll find a plethora of locally grown items, you’ll also discover spices from Morocco and Tunisia, paella and saffron from Spain and fresh pasta from Italy.
As you ride off with these fresh finds in your basket, you’ll start to feel like you’re living like a local and not a tourist.
Wine Tasting and Vineyards
Cycling through spectacular countryside is sure to leave you parched. Everyone needs a rest stop which can be made all the more enjoyable with a glass of French wine.
Take a break to visit one of 520 Provincial wineries to sample local drops, such as Rosé which makes up 85% of wine produced in this region.
A few vineyards worth visiting include:
Chateau La Canorgue: Family run for over 200 years, this vineyard located in the heart of the Parc Naturel Regional de Luberon between Avignon and Aix en Provence, produces delicious white and Rosé wines. Made famous by the movie “The Good Year”, the beautiful grounds are just as impressive in real life as they are on the big screen. (Address: Route du Pont Julien, 84480 Bonnieux, France).
Domaine Saint Amant: High up in the mountains of the region, this vineyard is open for tastings during the week and by appointment on weekends. Try some of their vintage wines and don’t forget to take a picture from the incredible mountaintop vantage point. (Address: 84190 Suzette, France)
Chateau Vignelaure: Located in Rians, this vineyard is home to some of the oldest Cabernet Sauvignon vines which came from cuttings from Chateau La Lagune in the 1960’s. Tours can accommodate 4-80 people upon request. (Address: Route de Jouques 83560 Rians, France).
Get on your bike and book your next holiday by contacting your personal travel manager, or find one near you.