France: Provence to the Coast

Self-Guided Biking Tour, France: Provence to the CoastSelf-Guided Biking Tour, France: Provence to the Coast

France

Provence to the Coast

overview

Ride from the heart of Provence, in medieval Avignon, to the Mediterranean Sea at the legendary town of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, in the natural park of the Camargue region. Heading south, your first stop is charming Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, where you cycle through the landscapes of Van Gogh’s paintings, and then on to colorful Arles with its intact Roman amphitheater. Shaded by rows of tall sycamore trees, quiet roads follow historic canals and pass protected wetlands that are home to scores of birds, including flamingoes. Traditional white-washed and thatch-roofed homes overlook the ancient horse and bull domains, marshes, and rice paddies of the Camargue. Provencal décor and hospitality welcome you in charming town-center hotels and beautifully restored farmhouses, perfectly paired with the authentic flavors of Provencal cuisine.

14 Reasons to Visit Provence ►

Activity Level
Easy to Moderate,
with an average of
15-20 miles per day
Meet
Avignon, France
Depart
Arles, France
Daily Itinerary
Download printable
itinerary
Reading List
Recommended
pre-trip reading
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Self-Guided Biking 
8 days, 7 nights Trip Includes 

Trip Includes

  • Continental breakfast daily, 1 lunch—day 7, and 5 dinners—nights 1, 2, 4, 6, 7 (7 lunches, 3 dinners, and beverages are not included)
  • All accommodations (with private bathrooms) while on tour
  • Local transfers as noted in the itinerary
  • Luggage transfers between the hotels
  • Detailed route notes and maps
  • High-quality 21 speed bicycle (helmet not provided), tire repair kit, lock, map/route note holder, and panniers
  • Basic travel insurance coverage
  • 24-hour emergency service
  • The unbeatable and cumulative experience of the CW staff
Compare Dates & Prices
Prices Starting From...
Season 2-3 travelers 4-5 travelers 6+ travelers Single Supplement Solo Surcharge
2014
April 1 - June 30 &
Sept 1 - Oct 30
$3,448
$3,348
$3,248
$775
$725
2015
April 1 - June 30 &
Sept 1 - Oct 30
$3,448
$3,448
$3,448
$775
$775

*Price is based on per person, double occupancy.

Number of Travelers
Total in your party
Price From
per person double occupancy

Call 800.234.6900 to book this trip.

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Itinerary and Accommodations

Days
Destination
1
Avignon
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2
Saint-Rémy-de-Provence
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3
Saint-Rémy-de-Provence
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4
Arles
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5
Arles
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6
Le Sambuc
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7
Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer
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8
Departure
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Day 1

Avignon

Arrival in Avignon

Upon arrival in Avignon and checking into your hotel, you may choose to explore the narrow cobbled streets of this beautiful medieval city on foot, especially the sprawling and magnificent Palais des Papes and fortifications, the papal residence and seat of Western Christianity in the 14th century.

Hotel de l’Horloge

Avignon, France

This 19th-century renovated stone building, a former residence, in the historic center of Avignon is the only four-star hotel directly situated on the main Place de l’Horloge square, a short walk along pedestrian streets from the “Palais des Papes,” the 14th-century immense Gothic papal complex. Hotel guest rooms feature contemporary Provencal décor with warm tones and linen fabrics. Breakfast is provided in a sunny dining room with a covered conservatory; also with a welcoming library and lounge space.

Day 2

Saint-Rémy-de-Provence

Avignon to Saint-Rémy-de-Provence; 25km/15.5mi. Optional 8km/5mi to the Montagnette

Today you leave the UNESCO-protected city of Avignon by riding along its fortified walls and exit via one of the 14 impressive “portes” (town gates). You soon cross the Durance River to enter countryside dotted with traditional farmhouses, canals, fruit orchards, and cultivated fields. Your easy ride follows narrow quiet roads through the peaceful villages of Maillane and Graveson before reaching your home for the night. There is an optional climb to the monastery of Saint Michel de Frigolet, its architecture from Romanesque all the way to Baroque. Your ascent of the Montagnette—literally small mountain—is worth the effort, granting splendid views of the Rhône Valley.

Hotel Sous les Figuiers

Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, France

A charming small hotel built around an interior courtyard with individually decorated guestrooms highlighting refined Provençal decor supplemented by antiques and artwork. Fresh local products and home-baked regional breads and pastries are on the breakfast menu, served either in the shaded terrace or the contemporary Baroque small salon. An on-site art studio exhibits contemporary works and encourages local artistic endeavors. A pleasant Provençal town, Saint-Rémy is best known for the Saint-Paul de Mausole monastery where Van Gogh received psychiatric treatment.

Day 3

Saint-Rémy-de-Provence

Layover day at Saint-Rémy-de-Provence

There are many options for exploration in and around the pleasant town of Saint-Rémy, including the colorful market on Wednesday morning. You may visit the Roman ruins of Glanum, or stroll along the Van Gogh path lined with reproductions of his works facing the very scenes that inspired them. The monastery where the artist spent the last year of his life is also worth a stop, still used today as a psychiatric hospital. If you prefer to take a day trip, the stunning perched village of Les Baux de Provence is only 20 minutes away by taxi (at your own expense), or for a more challenging ride, you can climb the 1,600 feet (15 miles) by bike. Bicycle route notes for an easier loop ride through the Provencal countryside are also provided.

Hotel Sous les Figuiers

Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, France

A charming small hotel built around an interior courtyard with individually decorated guestrooms highlighting refined Provençal decor supplemented by antiques and artwork. Fresh local products and home-baked regional breads and pastries are on the breakfast menu, served either in the shaded terrace or the contemporary Baroque small salon. An on-site art studio exhibits contemporary works and encourages local artistic endeavors. A pleasant Provençal town, Saint-Rémy is best known for the Saint-Paul de Mausole monastery where Van Gogh received psychiatric treatment.

Day 4

Arles

Saint-Rémy-de-Provence to Arles; 27km/17mi

A relaxed departure on your bike out of Saint-Rémy takes you along quiet country lanes—heading south and leaving the Alpilles mountain range behind you. There is ample time to stop at the 12th-century Romanesque chapel of Saint Gabriel, as well as at the Moulin du Calanquet, a family-owned olive mill where you can learn about their sustainable practices and taste the numerous varieties of “green gold” that they produce. As you approach Arles, you enter the flatlands of the Camargue region, a protected Regional Natural Park also recognized as a wetland of international importance.

Hotel Le Calendal

Arles, France

In the center of Arles, in an ideal central location between the city’s historic theater and Roman amphitheater, this 17th-century home has been renovated into a spacious hotel with a restaurant and spa. Guest rooms are decorated with Provencal colors and flair and offer views of the town or garden. The 19th-century interior garden with al fresco dining is a green refuge and is historically classified for its layout and rare plants. The Roman-inspired on-site spa features full spa treatments and hot and cold soaking pools.
Day 5

Arles

Layover day at Arles

For cyclists who arrive in Arles on Saturday, you have the opportunity to visit its large, bustling market, where a plethora of regional products are beautifully displayed. Local specialties include olives, of course, but also cheeses, boar sausage, fougasse (a fluffy pastry flavored with orange blossom water), and uniquely flavored homemade nougat. The town’s claim of fame though, comes from its dominant status in the Roman Empire, as seen in it well-preserved amphitheater—a World Heritage site, and still in use today. Arles is home to several of Van Gogh’s masterpieces, a famous photography festival, as well as traditional bullfighting.

Hotel Le Calendal

Arles, France

In the center of Arles, in an ideal central location between the city’s historic theater and Roman amphitheater, this 17th-century home has been renovated into a spacious hotel with a restaurant and spa. Guest rooms are decorated with Provencal colors and flair and offer views of the town or garden. The 19th-century interior garden with al fresco dining is a green refuge and is historically classified for its layout and rare plants. The Roman-inspired on-site spa features full spa treatments and hot and cold soaking pools.
Day 6

Le Sambuc

Arles to Le Sambuc; 33km/20.5mi

Beyond Arles and continuing south you enter the plains and wetlands between the Rhône River and the Mediterranean that is Western Europe’s largest river delta. This important regional park is a unique ecosystem of marshes and dammed lagoons with over 400 bird species, including one of the few European habitat of the greater flamingo. Just a few feet above sea level, you ride through wheat fields, rice paddies, orchards and vineyards, along country roads paralleling narrow canals bordered by bamboo, poplar, and willow. You can pause for a wine tasting at the Domaine de Valériole estate. With centuries’ long tradition of livestock raising, you ride past bull and horse farms lining the huge marshlands of the Vaccarès. Upon arrival at your traditional estate, you may choose to take a horseback ride (at your expense) through the domain’s fields and lagoons.

Le Mas de Peint

Arles, France

The “Mas,” a traditional Provencal farmhouse, is an exquisitely renovated family-run farm—the five-star hotel taking up one wing of the 17th-century building. Guestrooms combine historic exposed beams and antiques with crisp white linens, and give on to spacious grounds with luxuriant vines, trellises, and walkways, as well as an outdoor pool. A working horse and bull farm, it even has its own arena as well as guided horseback rides through extensive trails. Its fine-dining restaurant serving traditional cuisine of the region is popular with guests and locals alike.

Day 7

Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer

Le Sambuc to Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer; 32km/20mi

This morning your route continues south through the Camargue and its vast expanses of rice paddies and marshlands. Dozens of bird species flock to the wild lagoons to nest and feed, including countless herons, ducks, and egrets. The route along a narrow dike leads to the lighthouse’s interpretive center where you learn about the unique ecosystems and observe the thousands of pink flamingoes that nest in the region. Your journey ends just outside the town of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, known for its white-washed homes and the Gypsy patron saint Sara, whose raft is said to have drifted to these shores 2,000 years ago from Palestine, making the town a twice yearly pilgrimage site. You can ride to the beach nearby and explore the seaside town and church said to house the remains of Saint Sara.

Hotel Les Arnelles

Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, France

Superbly designed to fully complement the Camargue landscape, this four-star hotel is composed of a main building with indoor and outdoor dining and breakfast areas connecting to individual guest rooms by a series of wooden decks and walkways. Spacious and private, guest rooms with individual terraces combine contemporary décor, amenities, and fabrics with natural wood furnishings. A swimming pool is set in lovely grounds and gardens, as well as an on-site riding center.
Day 8

Departure

Departure

Your trip ends at your leisure after breakfast and a one-hour transfer takes you back to Arles.

Itinerary Disclaimer

Bear in mind that this is a typical itinerary, and the actual activities, sites, and accommodations may vary due to season, special events, weather, or transportation schedules. We reserve the right to alter the itinerary since tour arrangements are made up to a year in advance, and unforeseen circumstances that mandate change may arise. Itinerary changes are made to improve the tour and your experience. If you are currently booked on a CW adventure, an itinerary has been sent to you for your exact departure date. Please call CW at 800.464.9255 if you have any questions about the exact itinerary or hotels selected for any of our tours.

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