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Known worldwide for its stunning lavender fields and perched villages, Provence is so much more. Many of our tours start in Avignon, the perfect getaway to explore the area. If you can, we recommend taking one extra day to explore the city, with its many sites : Palais des Papes, the famous bridge and the Halles, Avignon’s market with its unique atmosphere.
From there, you can go North towards Chateauneuf du Pape, where we can book the perfect wine tasting for you, and then reach Mount Ventoux, one of the most famous cycling destinations in France. Otherwise you can cycle southwards to the charming villages of Saint Remy and Gordes, and even explore the natural beauties of Camargue. Don’t forget to stop along the way to taste the local specialties such as olive oil, ratatouille, pissaladière, fougasse… our team will be happy to recommend to you our favorite spots!
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REASONS TO DISCOVER PROVENCE
“Provence is known for its sunny and relatively mild climate. However, July and August are usually quite hot, and humidity is often high in June and September. Rain is possible year-round—don’t forget to bring water-proof, breathable rain gear. The Mistral, Provence’s famously strong wind, can whip up at any moment, so come prepared with a windbreaker and warm layers. Please see “Suggested Packing List” in your Travel Book for more recommended clothing and gear.”
“Provence and the Côte d’Azur have their own specialties, but also have a gastronomic tradition built on local products: vegetables, olive oil, herbs, etc … just like the country, a gay kitchen , sunny, colorful, feathers of scents and aromatics; it’s an enchantment for the palate.”
This beautifully preserved medieval city has many wonders waiting behind the fortified walls surrounding the city. One of the most impressive buildings in Europe, the Palace of the Popes, played an influential role in Catholic history housing a number of popes. With its gothic style architecture and grand size this is one castle not soon forgotten. Just a quick cycle down the road is another famous Avignon sight: the Pont d’Avignon. Only four arches of the original twenty-two remain of this spectacular bridge. Make sure you come and visit Avignon in July so you can take part in the Festival d’Avignon, one of the major art festivals in France.
With ancient houses perfectly restored and numerous shops and restaurants throughout the village, Gordes is the most typical village in Provence. Walk up the narrow cobbled stone streets to the top of the village to visit the church and castle. Gordes is also a strategic point from which to visit many historical and unique attractions from the Village des Bories at the top of the Vaucluse Mountains to Senanque’s Abbey which houses Cistercian Monks.
The climb of the Mount Ventoux is widely known thanks to the famous “Tour de France” cycling race. It is a very challenging climb and advanced riders will be able to test their endurance cycling on this epic route! Hiking up the Mt Ventoux is just as challenging as cycling, but at the top of the “Giant of Provence”, your efforts will be rewarded by views over cherry orchards and of the Alps to the northeast, not to mention the unique lunar atmosphere of Mont Ventoux’s summit. If you don’t feel up to the arduous climb, you can also just admire the white-capped summit from the Provencal countryside
The Roman ruins of Arles are a UNESCO world heritage site, including a Roman amphitheater, a theatre, a necropolis and the Thermes (baths) of Constantine. But historical sites are not the only assets of “The soul of Provence”. With its beautiful ancient houses and narrow streets, Arles, just like St Remy de Provence, has always attracted artists and painters such as Vincent Van Gogh or Picasso.
Nestled in the Alpilles mountain range, les Baux provides the perfect view of Arles, Camargue, and the Provence countryside. One of the great monuments of Provence, Chateau des Baux de Provence, is a ruined castle perched at the top of the town and dating back to the Middle Ages. Stopping in Baux on your cycle trip is a must. You will enjoy the magnificent view as well as the shops and ancient houses along the cobbled stone streets.
Provence is renowned for its lavender fields. Provencal residents have been producing lavender since as early as the 16th century and although some of those narrow fields are still picked by hand, most people use machines now. Lavender flowers and leaf stalks are primarily used for perfume and soap, and it has many other secret remedies. The best time to cycle along the lavender fields of Provence and live a truly extraordinary experience is the last week of June through July when the fields are in blossom.
If you are a foodista, Provence is the place for you! It is bursting with local specialties. Among them, you might want to try:
With over 2,500 years of experience, Provence knows a thing or two about wine! The appellations in Provence, more specifically the regions of Cotes de Provence and Bandol, are well known for their rose wines. But wine critics rant about Provence’s spicy, full-flavored red wines as well. Rose or red, while cycling around Provence make sure you take some time to do a wine tasting session.
Aside from the wine, the most popular drink in Provence is the Pastis: a local aperitif made from aniseed. Don’t be afraid to order in Provencal slang for a Pastagas!
The French region of Provence is located in the southeast of France between the Alps, the Côte d’Azur and the Rhone River. It comprises the departments of Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, Var, and Bouches-du-Rhone and parts of the departments of Vaucluse and Alpes-Maritimes.
There are different layers of Provencal life: the “Roman” towns of Orange, Nimes and Arles; the medieval bastions of Les Baux and Avignon; the essence of Provencal landscape in Luberon villages like Gordes ; and finally the great city life style of Aix-en- Provence.
The coast of Provence has some of the earliest sites of human habitation known in Europe.
The Greeks and later on the Romans settled in the region of Provence which became important thanks to the trade routes that ran along the coast and up and down the Rhone River. After the fall of the Roman Empire, the Visigoths, the Ostrogoths and the Frankish kings, invaded Provence successively. During the 14th century, the Catholic Church moved its headquarter from Rome to Avignon and the region really flourished then. It became part of France in the year 1481.
Up to the 14th century, Provencal was the literary language in France, and the North of Spain. Cycling around Provence, you will still hear some of the older people speaking Provencal, especially around a game of Petanque. Some expressions from to the Provencal dialect are mixed in with the official French language and people speak with a singing, unique, and irresistible accent.