If you’ve ever been to “wine country” – in almost any state or country where winegrapes are grown — chances are you’ve encountered them along the wine trails and back roads: bicyclists.
Perhaps you even have been one of those bicyclists.
Riding on a two-wheeler certainly is a slower-paced way to soak in the scenery and scents provided by the vineyards.
If you’ve ever thought about making such a sojourn, consider International Bike Tours’ ride through France’s Provence region this October. The base cost is $2,600 per person (based on double occupancy), and this is what the company has to say about the trip…
You already know this country, because Vincent van Gogh has been here before you. His paintings are in your head even as the landscape fills your eye.
The dry air, sharpening and brightening colors, produces light as clear as water in a glass.
On your bicycle, you’ll be moving at exactly the right pace to see Provence.
We meet in the Marseille airport and bus to the village of Graveson to spend two nights. The hotel’s swimming pool will help you shake jet lag.
From Graveson we’ll visit St. Remy-de-Provence, where Nostradamus was born and Gertrude Stein holed up for a year to write three books, and on to Glanum, where Romans left their mark. The Romans made Arles the capital of this region, and we spend a night there as well.
It may have been a Roman who first reported Arles women are dark-haired and beautiful, something people still say today.
If Provence brings mountains to your mind, erase that thought. We see them mostly in the distance, as we’re traveling in the west and south of the region. Part of our route is dead flat across the Camargue, now a nature preserve but once the floor of the Mediterranean Sea.
We’ll visit the medieval walled town of Aigues-Mortes, which launched two Crusades from its gates when it was a port, before the water retreated, and also Port Camargue, that rare thing in Europe — a relatively new town, built south of Aigues-Mortes, on what is now the shore of the sea.
Turning north, we’ll be in Nimes, in Avignon, in Orange, and points between. This is a part of the world that takes cheese seriously, and so should you.
Nimes, only marginally a city of Provence, has its own character. Roman memories run deep and Spain is not all that far away – hence, bullfights in the ancient Roman arena.
Romans also built the famous Pont du Gard, a bridge cum aqueduct that is now a World Heritage site and one of France’s top tourist attractions. We’ll visit it and walk across its noble length.
Avignon’s compact charm makes it a fine town for walking about, and actually you can walk — or dance, if you prefer — on the bridge immortalized in the song “sur le pont, d’Avignon.” But note that the bridge stops abruptly after the fourth arch! A few hundred years ago, city fathers decided not to repair it again.
In Orange, the outdoor market provides everything you need and many things you don’t – how many kinds of olives can there be? Would you like a sheaf of lavender?
If you’ve become a connoisseur of Roman theaters, you’ll find the one in Orange splendidly preserved.
Provence is a fine place to bicycle. If the Romans had only thought of it, they would have done so, too.
As with all tours, festivals, etc. featured on this site, this is not an endorsement of either the tour or the company. It’s always best to do your own investigating prior to doing business with any travel company.
That said, here’s the Web address where you can get more information on what sounds like a fun adventure: internationalbicycletours.com