Make your way to Avignon by either flying into Marseille airport or by rail into Avignon TGV station. You will be picked up and taken to your hotel via private transfer, where you can settle in and begin exploring the ‘City of Popes’. Make sure to visit the Popes Palace, a relic from Avignon’s historic papal ruling, as well as the remains of Pont d’Avignon bridge built in the 12th century. You can choose to stay an extra night in Avignon and embark on a loop ride to Chateauneuf-du-Pape, famous for wine, or to Orange’s Roman theatre. Or simply enjoy relaxing…
For your ride to Saint Remy, choose between 3 fantastic routes depending on your optimal distance. Either head straight down to Saint Remy, cycle alongside the river Rhone or even visit the iconic Pont du Gard bridge. Whichever route you choose, you’ll be making your way toward Saint Remy, one of the best examples of a typical Provencal village with charming character. Take a look around the Saint-Paul Asylum, where Vincent van Gogh painted many of his masterpieces, such as, ‘The Starry Night’ as a self-admitted patient.
Today can serve as a rest day, where you explore Saint Remy’s cobblestone streets wrapped around medieval buildings. If you are there on a Wednesday, consider wandering the major markets sprawling with an active and welcoming atmosphere. Alternatively, we will provide a number of beautiful routes to Eygalieres, a small village with authentic charm not far away from Saint Remy, or to Arles. A culmination of history and artistry merge in Arles, with Van Gogh painting 200 works in and around the city’s ancient buildings, including the UNESCO Roman amphitheatre.
Today you’ll ride toward is reaching L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, or Venice of the Comtat as it’s also known due to the many canals weaving through the town. There are 7 antique ‘villages’ within the town open year round with more than 350 dealers. If you’re lucky enough to be here on a Sunday, make sure to visit the famous Flea and Food market. There are countless art museums to explore, one of which is the Campredon Centre d’Art that hosts famous artist’s work. The architecture of the town itself is like a piece of art, what with the Gothic and Baroque Notre-dame-des-Anges Collegiate Church.
As the gateway to the Luberon, we will provide you with a number of different routes to try today in the local area from L’Isle-sur-La-Sorgue. Part of these routes will be on traffic free cycle paths that used to be part of France’s railway network, until they were disused and then damaged in WWII. You will have the choice of riding to Gordes, a charming hilltop village facing the Luberon, Lacoste, which is akin to a time machine, and Roussillon, featuring an ochre path leading to picturesque orange-red cliffs. If you’re up for a longer ride, you can hit all of the above, stopping to explore along the way.
Ride north through quiet countryside to Mazan, located on top of a small hill overlooking the Auzon river. A medieval atmosphere lingers between the religious buildings and fountains as you enter the ancient gates into the village centre. Much of the architecture dates back to before the 17th Century, and the Notre-Dame de Pareloup Chapel was built in the 11th century to exorcise demons (which turned out to be the village wolves). For the theatre-goers, the chateau poses as the place where France’s first theatre festival was performed. It’s hard to imagine so much fitting into such a small village, however Mazan is packed with nuggets of fascination.
An option for today’s loop ride is riding to Orange or Chateauneuf-du-Pape, especially if you didn’t have the chance to do so when in Avignon. Both are perfect if you are wanting to explore more of France’s history and culture! Alternatively if you or one of your party would like to conquer Mont Ventoux we can provide routes for you. The legendary lunar landscape climb starts only 10km away from Mazan in Bedoin. Not for the inexperienced, Mont Ventoux extends 21.5km at an average gradient of 7.5%. The memories of past races and lives that have been lost on this climb are not forgotten as you pass the Tom Simpson Memorial from the 1967 Tour De France.
Today is the day you say goodbye to your bike and Provence. We can arrange a private transfer back to the airport or Avignon train station from Mazan. However, if you would like to extend your trip, we have many more routes within the area that you can experience before leaving. You may also like to consider spending more time in Avignon, or any destinations you have visited on this trip.
With fields of lavender, rolling vineyards and quaint hilltop villages, Provence offers the ultimate escape from city life. Ride through lavender fields, taste world famous wines and explore the Alpilles where Van Gogh famously painted.