Get ready for the cycling experience of a lifetime in beautiful Provence, France on the Provence Prestige en Vélo bike tour, organized by Belle France (a 33-year-old company that specializes in both walking and cycling tours in some of France’s most extraordinary destinations).
The Provence Prestige en Vélo bike tour is just one of the many cycling tours that Belle France offers. It is a high-end cycling holiday that takes place in the Provence region – a part of southeastern France that borders Italy and the Mediterranean Sea. The region, while most commonly recognized by its rolling vineyards, expansive olive groves, and flavorful lavender fields, is also one of the world’s premiere cycling destinations.
Whether you’re planning a special anniversary celebration, a birthday party, or simply a unique trip with a loved one or a group of friends, a bike tour through southeastern France on the Provence Prestige en Vélo bike tour might just be the luxurious cycling experience you’ve been looking for!
What’s Included in the tour:
- 5 days cycling and 6 nights in luxury hotels.
- Breakfast at each hotel + gourmet meals every night.
- Luggage transfer between hotels.
- Comprehensive route maps and notes.
- Bike rental for the entire week.
- Return transfer to Avignon (via train) at the end of the tour.
My Bicycle Touring Experience in Provence, France
In the spring of 2019, I traveled to Avignon, France for the start of the Provence Prestige en Vélo bike tour with Belle France… and the following is a quick breakdown of my experiences on the tour (complete with photos).
While most of the people who participate in this and other self-guided cycling holidays with Belle France participate in the tour as part of a couple or a small group, I was traveling alone. So, when my plane landed in Lyon, France, I had to find my own way to Avignon and the start of the Provence Prestige en Vélo bike tour.
Luckily, getting to Avignon and the first hotel of the tour was very easy. All I did was exit the airport in Lyon and then walk across the street to the nearby train station (the train station and the airport are literally across the street from one another). Once at the train station, I boarded a train that was headed south and exited the train about an hour-and-a-half later in the city of Avignon. Once there, I hailed a taxi and my driver (who was from Romania, but spoke both French and English) transported me approximately 5.5 kilometers across the city to the nearby Hostellerie la Magnaneraie in the quiet suburbs of Villeneuve-les-Avignon.
I arrived at the hotel somewhat early in the afternoon, so I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to check in to my room upon my arrival, but the woman at the front desk of the hotel was extremely understanding and informed me that even though I was early, my room was both clean and available.
I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect of my first hotel on the Provence Prestige en Vélo bike tour, but after only a few moments in my new home away from home, I got the feeling that this particular cycling holiday was going to be a good one! The room was huge – with a small waiting area/reading nook, a spacious bedroom with exposed wooden beams on the ceiling and beautiful hardwood floors, and a large bathroom consisting of two sinks, a bathtub/shower and a separate room for the toilet. The accommodations felt more like a luxurious studio apartment than what you would normally think of when you think of staying in a “hotel.”
After taking a few moments to take in my new surroundings inside my room at Hostellerie la Magnaneraie, I quickly went about going through the packet of paperwork that had been waiting for me at the hotel reception desk. This packet of materials had been prepared by the people at Belle France in order to help me navigate my way throughout the entire week of cycling and hotel stays in the Provence region. Inside my Belle France welcome packet was a map of the Provence region, information about Belle France and how their self-guided cycling tours function, turn-by-turn directions for the length of the entire week-long bike tour, a map case for the handlebars of my bicycle and even a small book that was designed to help me understand the delicacies of French cuisine.
The small book containing both the regional maps and turn-by-turn directions was the most important packet of papers inside the Belle France welcome pack (pictured above), and it was this packet of papers that I used on a daily basis to navigate on the road and find my way from one hotel to the next.
Once I had fully digested both my room and the Belle France paperwork that had been supplied to me, I decided to wander around the hotel a little bit and explore my new surroundings. From the front of the hotel, Hostellerie la Magnaneraie looks quite small – possibly only consisting of a dozen rooms or so. But as soon as you step through the back doors and walk out onto the patio, you quickly realize that the property is a whole lot larger than it appears from the street.
In addition to the rooms at the front of the hotel (which is where I was staying), Hostellerie la Magnaneraie has several dozen more rooms located near the swimming pool at the back of the property.
Hostellerie la Magnaneraie was a wonderful surprise on the first night of my self-guided cycling tour in Provence, France and I could have easily spent the rest of the day just hanging out in my room or lounging about in the garden or the pool, but because I had arrived so early in the day, I figured I might as well take full advantage of my situation and take a walk into the city of Avignon, more than 5 kilometers away!
Walking from the hotel to the center of the walled city of Avignon was a total joy, because there was so much to look at along the way. From the architecture of the homes to the cars on the street, everything was so different from what I am used to seeing in my particular part of the world.
During my walk into downtown Avignon, I stopped for a moment and stared up at the Tour Philippe-le-Bel (pictured above) – a medieval tower named after the French king Philippe-le-Bel, who was responsible for its construction.
Once I made my way to the Rhône, I was able to quickly and easily spot the Pont Saint-Bénézet (also known as the Pont d’Avignon), which is one of Avignon’s most famous city landmarks – a stone bridge that extends only half-way across the river (due to the fact that the rest of the bridge was collapsed multiple times over in the past and was so expensive to rebuild or maintain that the people of Avignon eventually decided to simply abandon the bridge and leave it as it remains today).
Inside the walled city of Avignon, things began to get extremely interesting. Everywhere you look there are beautiful buildings, small shops, dozens of delightful restaurants and people slowly wandering about. My favorite part of the city was the area around the Avignon Cathedral and the Palais des Papes, which was once a rival to the Vatican in Rome.
I walked around the center of Avignon for several hours, just looking at the people and the gardens and the architecture of the city before picking up a small meal at a local restaurant and then wandering back to my hotel just before nightfall. After a long day of travel and several hours of walking across the city, I was ready for a good night’s sleep… and that’s exactly what I got.
In the morning, I woke from my slumber and wandered down to the hotel dining room, where I was treated with a large breakfast buffet. Fruit, croissants, yogurt, cereal and other common breakfast foods (such as eggs and meat) were made available, along with coffee, tea and other drinks, and I could take as much or as little as I pleased. Because I knew I had a long day of cycling ahead of me, and because everything on offer tasted so good, I probably ate a bit more for breakfast than I would have otherwise.
After breakfast, I returned to my room and began packing up my things. I loaded half of my belongings into a small backpack/suitcase that I had brought with me and then I then took this bag down to the reception desk to have it transferred for me to my next hotel. This would be the bag that Belle France would carry for me from one hotel to the next, for the entire duration of the tour. This bag contained my toiletries, clothing I wasn’t wearing on the bicycle, my laptop computer, and a couple other personal belongings. The rest of my items (such as my camera, smartphone and rain gear) I carried with me on my bicycle in a small handlebar bag and in a large waterproof pannier bag I had mounted to the rear rack of my bicycle. So, one bag of belongings was transferred to the next hotel for me… and the other (much smaller bag of things) I carried with me on my bicycle.
This is where the fun began! Some time around 10:30 AM, I checked out of my room at Hostellerie la Magnaneraie and began my cycling adventure in beautiful Provence, France! To my surprise, there was a long, but not very steep climb almost straight away – as soon as I left the hotel. Luckily the grade of this road was not very steep, and I was rewarded at the top of the hill with a large supermarket located just off to the right-hand side of the road. I used this opportunity to run inside the store and pick up a few snacks to carry with me as I was cycling. While breakfasts and dinners are included in the price of the Provence Prestige en Vélo bike tour, snacks and lunches are something you will need to sort out on your own.
Like other bike tours I’ve done in the past, I made an effort not to start out too fast at the beginning of the tour. Instead, I took things slowly and set about finding a pace for myself that I knew I could maintain for the duration of the trip. In addition to focusing on my speed, I also had a lot to see and do. I was navigating with the route book that Belle France had provided for me, but I would also use my smartphone, on occasion, to double-check my position and determine whether or not I was headed in the right direction.
There was so much to stop and explore along the way, but one of my favorite stops on day #1 of the Provence Prestige en Vélo bike tour was the Sanctuaire de Notre-Dame de Grâces, located at the top of a small hill just off the designated cycling route. I made a detour here and took some time to explore this exquisite property.
The first day of cycling on the Provence Prestige en Vélo bike tour is one of the longest and most enjoyable days of cycling on the entire tour. You’ll pass through several small towns and villages (where you will see homes and vehicles similar to the one you see above) while at the same time cycling past dozens of French farms and vineyards.
There’s a short and very steep hill just outside the tiny town of Saze, but don’t worry about it too much. The first half of the hill is in the shade and the second half (which is the steepest section) is short enough that even if you have to get off and walk, it will only take you a few seconds of pushing your bicycle until you are at the top.
While you will be tempted to stop and explore every little town and village that you come across, keep in mind that you should be reaching your hotel each night somewhere around four or five in the afternoon. This will give you plenty of time after your bike ride to shower, rest up, and then eat a delicious dinner before retiring to your room and calling it a night.
Another common sight on the Provence Prestige en Vélo bike tour is the vineyards you will see on every single day of the tour. Some of these vineyards are small and almost unnoticeable, while others are massive and stretch off into the distance for kilometers and kilometers.
When you near the town of Collias, you’ll come down a small hill, pass this romantic waterfall, and then make your way into the center of the city.
Once here, take note of the vines growing up around the gates and stone walls and keep en eye out for both children and animals alike playing in the streets and gardens.
The second night of your bike tour with Belle France ends at Hostellerie le Castellas – a small, beautiful hotel tucked away inside the narrow stone walls of the city. The rooms in this hotel are large and homey, but the garden, patio and pool area at Hostellerie le Castellas is really the centerpiece of this intimate accommodation.
Upon my arrival at the hotel, there were several other guests already sitting in the garden and drinking with one another, so I made my way up a set of stone stairs to the covered patio and relished in having the entire space entirely to myself.
After taking a shower, I made my way to to hotel dining room and was treated to a delicious three-course meal. Because I am a vegetarian, I was concerned there would be few food options available to me, but Belle France had done a good job warning the hotel beforehand about my dietary restrictions, so as soon as I sat down at my table, I was informed that a vegetarian meal consisting of tomato soup and asparagus risotto had been prepared for me, along with bread and chocolate dessert as well. Yum yum!
By the time dinner was over, it was dark outside and nearly time for bed. I took one last walk around the garden and then wandered back to my room (a property that once again felt more like a spacious studio apartment than a typical hotel room you might find in so many other places in the world).
The next morning I was treated to another buffet breakfast in the hotel dining area. After eating, I packed up my things and gave my small bag of belongings to the woman at the reception desk. This bag would be soon picked up by a driver and transported to my next hotel in the nearby city of Tarascon. The rest of my belongings I would carry with me on my bicycle as I cycled. And on this particular day, it looked like it might rain, so I made sure to pack my rain jacket in case I needed it at some point during the day.
There was a long and steady climb out of Collias, but this uphill ride was actually one of my favorite areas on the entire Provence Prestige en Vélo bike tour. It was one of those hills that was obviously a hill, but was at such an angle that I could hardly tell I was climbing. On top of that, the nature around this particular road made cycling uphill a complete and utter joy. And because the weather at this point in the day was a little bit overcast, it made the uphill ride one of the most pleasant experiences of the entire tour. Best of all, there was a fun downhill on the other side of the hill, once I had reached the top!
Sometime around noon it began to rain and I was happy to have my rain jacket with me. Luckily, the rain only lasted about an hour and never came down in much more than a heavy drizzle. By the time I reached Tarascon, the sun was out and the dark rain clouds had almost entirely retreated.
Cycling into downtown Beaucaire (across the river from Tarascon) was quite the experience, because before reaching town I was on a quiet country road with hardly anyone else in sight. But as soon as the outskirts of Beaucaire hit, it felt like I was instantly thrown back into big city cycling. Narrow roads and fast-moving cars are common here, so move quickly and be on your best behavior. Be sure to stop and take in the Château de Beaucaire while you’re there, however, as this ruined castle that dates back to the 12th and 16th centuries is one of the most impressive landmarks in the entire region (pictured above).
As soon as you cross the Rhône from Beaucaire to Tarascon, you’ll see this impressive Catholic church (pictured above) and the well-preserved Château de Tarascon, which sits just alongside the river. Only a few kilometers south of there is your next accommodation on the Provence Prestige en Vélo bike tour – d’hôte Mas des Comtes.
You’ll need to press the bell at the gate in order to gain access to the property. When the gate opens, make your way down the gravel drive, past the stone lions and around to the other side of the building where a small courtyard welcomes you in.
You’ll be given a place to park your bicycle and then be shown to your room – another studio-like suite decorated with a wide variety of nick-knacks.
A mirror leans against the wall in the corner, a top hat rests sideways along the back of a white chair, a teddy bear sits in a lonely position near the foot of the bed (almost waiting for you to join him), and a blue abstract painting hangs on the wall behind the door. The room is large… and clean… and inviting. It feels like I’ve been invited to stay with a wealthy family member and I instantly feel at home.
As impressive as the room is, the grounds at d’hôte Mas des Comtes are what really make this property memorable. So, be sure to take some time and wander around the property.
When not in use as the home to traveling cyclists, d’hôte Mas des Comtes is rented out as a location for weddings, birthday parties and special celebrations, which is why the grounds come complete with a large swimming pool, indoor and outdoor dining areas, a restaurant and plenty of garden space.
If you have the time and the weather is right, take a dip in the hotel swimming pool. Then return to the hotel dining room in time for a delicious French meal.
When I stayed at d’hôte Mas des Comtes, I was the only guest in the entire hotel. But that didn’t stop them from spoiling me at dinnertime. The chef came in special, just for me, to prepare a vegetarian meal that I would both enjoy in that moment and remember for years to come.
Not only was my dinner superb, but my breakfast the following morning was one of the most elaborate displays of cuisine I have ever seen. Considering I was the only person in the hotel, they really went all out in preparing a meal for me for that I would thoroughly enjoy. There was cheese and fresh juice, fruit and croissants, water and tea and a whole lot more!
The third day of cycling on the Provence Prestige en Vélo bike tour is a special one because instead of having to pack up all your things again and travel to a new hotel that night, you leave your belongings exactly where they are, conduct day trip around the Tarascon region and then make your way back to d’hôte Mas des Comtes in the evening for a second night at the hotel.
So, after eating breakfast and packing up my bicycle with all of the things I needed for the day, I began cycling east out of the city and through a series of farmlands located in a small valley between two hills on either side of the road. Eventually, I turned left and began cycling up a small hill to the Abbey of St. Michel de Frigolet.
The abbey, dedicated to Saint Michael, was founded around 960 AD by Conrad I of Burgundy on one of the numerous hills which lie between Tarascon and Avignon. Today, the monastery is a quiet, beautiful tourist attraction, which you are welcome to walk around inside and explore.
After taking some time to explore the abbey, I cycled back to Tarascon and made my way to the Mas des Comtes just in time for a hot shower and another exquisite French dinner in the hotel restaurant.
In the morning, another incredible breakfast was prepared for me. Once again, I was the only person in the hotel, but as you can see by these photos of my meal, no expense was spared. There was plenty for me to eat! Wow!
By this time in the tour, I had pretty much figured out the routine. Each morning, after breakfast, I would pack up my bags, leave one bag of belongings in the hotel reception and then take off on my bicycle toward the next hotel, some 30-40 kilometers away. Then, by the time I reached my hotel that evening, my bag of belongings from the first hotel had been delivered to the next hotel and my things were usually waiting for me in my room upon my arrival.
On this particular day of cycling (the fifth day of the Provence Prestige en Vélo bike tour) I made a quick stop at Château d’Estoublon to check out the vineyards there and take photos of their incredible gardens and restaurant.
Then I made quick work of the cycling and reached Les Baux-de-Provence sometime after noon. Upon my arrival there, I knew within just a few moments that this was going to be a special place. Perched high above me, up on the hill, was a stone city and the medieval fortress, Château des Baux de Provence. Around the fortress was an impressive expanse of vineyards and pine trees, mixed in with a wide variety of romantic stone chateaus.
I climbed the hill to the north of Château des Baux de Provence and from there I was able to get an incredible view of Les Baux de Provence. I wanted to go inside the impressive stone structure, but I wasn’t sure what to do with my bicycle, so I decided to cycle back down the road and check into my hotel for the evening – Baumanière Les Baux de Provence. After I had checked in, I could lock up my bicycle and then simply walk a short distance back up the road to explore the streets of Les Baux de Provence.
So, I zipped down the hillside and made my way to the entrance of Baumanière Les Baux de Provence – one of the most incredible properties I have ever had the pleasure of staying at.
After checking in with the beautiful young woman at the reception desk, I was walked to my room, which was located in a large house at the back of the property. The room was small, but elegant, with a view of perfectly manicured green gardens from both the bedroom and bathroom windows.
I changed into my street clothes and then walked down the road toward the nearby village on the hill – Les Baux de Provence. The closer I got to the tiny city, the more people I came across. This was obviously a very popular tourist attraction!
Everywhere I looked there seemed to be a photo opportunity. Even the weeds growing out of the cracks in the city’s stone walls looked beautiful, and I found myself stopping on occasion to simply marvel at how beautiful my surroundings were.
The maze of narrow stone streets inside Les Baux de Provence was a joy to explore. Tiny homes and even smaller restaurants and souvenir stops were scattered throughout the village. And everywhere I looked there was someone sitting or walking or talking with another group of people.
On the western edge of the village, a small cemetery can be found, where those who are buried there are shaded by a large tree and have a spectacular view looking out over the French countryside.
Around another bend, the people all but disappear and the stone remains of buildings from centuries gone past look almost as they might have one hundred years ago or more.
Then walk around another bend in the road and you’re back in the tourist quarters, fending off the salesmen who are getting you to buy a trinket to take home to your loved ones on the other side of the world.
Then finally, make your way to the wall at the southern side of Les Baux de Provence and look out over the French countryside! You’ll be instantly reminded of why you came to France in the first place.. and you’ll be amazed at just how beautiful this world we live in truly is.
That night, after walking around Les Baux de Provence for several hours, I returned to my hotel and prepared for a fancy French dinner at the Michelin Star restaurant, La Cabro d’Or. I don’t have any photos from this fine-dining experience, but I can tell you that this 7+ course meal is one the most impeccable meals of my lifetime. Not only was the food unique and flavorful, but the five-star staff at this high-end restaurant made my 3-hour dining experience with them an event that I will likely never forget.
I went to bed late and woke up even later the following morning. Hotel Baumanière Les Baux de Provence was so impressive, I didn’t want to even leave my bed, let alone leave the property entirely. But before I could say goodbye to Hotel Baumanière, I first needed to walk from my room to the restaurant, where I was greeted with another high-end breakfast buffet.
Croissants, nuts, fruit and pancakes were all on offer, as well as several breads, coffee, tea, meat and more! I scarfed it all down and then ran back to my room and began packing my bags. This was going to be the final day of cycling on the Provence Prestige en Vélo bike tour… and I knew I had a big day of cycling ahead of me.
The truth is, there was really only a few kilometers between Hotel Baumanière and my next hotel, Hotel Gounod, in nearby Saint Rémy, France. If I had wanted to, I could have cycled straight to Hotel Gounod and been done cycling after less than an hour on my bicycle. But I didn’t want to do that! I wanted to make the most of my cycling experience in Provence, France, so I followed the cycling route prepared by Belle France, in a giant circle leading first to the east of Saint Rémy and then back to the city center later in the afternoon. The entire trip took me about three hours, with stops included. By this time on the tour, I was in good shape and feeling great, so I could have gone a whole lot further, but was happy to reach Hotel Gounod relatively early and still have time, after taking a hot shower, to walk around the center of the city before nightfall.
Hotel Gounod is the smallest of all the properties you will stay at on the Provence Prestige en Vélo bike tour, but its location in the center of Saint Rémy, France makes it the perfect place to finish your bicycle touring experience. Not only is the hotel located within walking distance of dozens of restaurants and souvenir shops, but the ancient city of Glanum and the Saint-Paul de Mausole asylum where Vincent van Gogh lived for a short time towards the end of his life can also be easily reached from here on foot.
The rooms at Hotel Gounod are small, but they are well-decorated and the perfect size for one to two people making just a short stay in Saint Rémy.
In addition to the hotel bar and the rooms themselves, Hotel Gounod, like all of the hotels on this particular bike tour, has a nice swimming pool, which you are encouraged to use after a long day of cycling on the bike.
Now, if you chose to, you can extend your stay in Saint Rémy for one more day and use this time to explore the nearby tourist attractions – the ancient city of Glanum and the Saint-Paul de Mausole asylum. I recommend you take the extra day to do these two activities, as leaving Saint Rémy without exploring these two properties would be an utter shame.
I used my second day in Saint Rémy, France to walk to the ancient city of Glanum first. You’re going to be walking a few kilometers on this day, so be sure to bring a good pair of walking shoes, some water, and even a little sunscreen if the sun is out.
Glanum was an ancient city set below a gorge on the flanks of the Alpilles mountains, approximately one kilometer south of Saint Rémy, France. The city expanded under Greek influence before becoming a Roman city. As it was never built over by settlements after the Roman period, but was partly buried by deposits washed from the hills above, much of the city was preserved. It is particularly known for two well-preserved Roman monuments dating back from the 1st century B.C., known as les Antiques (a mausoleum and a triumphal arch – pictured above).
After you have taken the time to explore the ancient city of Glanum, walk just a short distance down the road to the Saint-Paul de Mausole asylum. Along the way you will pass several signs (similar to the one you see below) depicting various works of art by Vincent van Gogh. These signs tell the tale of the artwork and the artist… and demonstrate how van Gogh received much of his inspiration from the trees, flowers and landscapes in the Provence region surrounding Saint Rémy, France.
The world-famous painter, Vincent van Gogh, admitted himself as a patient to the Saint-Paul asylum in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence and remained there from May 1889 until May 1890. During much of his stay there he was confined to the grounds of the asylum, and he made paintings of the garden, the enclosed wheat field that he could see outside his room and a few portraits of individuals at the asylum.
During his stay at Saint-Paul asylum, Van Gogh experienced periods of illness when he could not paint. When he was able to resume, painting provided solace and meaning for him.
Today, the asylum in Saint Rémy still functions as a home for mentally ill individuals, but it is also a place that you can explore as a tourist… and visit a reproduction of van Gogh’s room where he painted some of his most famous works of art.
In the garden outside the asylum there are numerous van Gogh prints hung up among flowers and local plants, to demonstrate how van Gogh used nature to inspire his works of art.
Located up a short flight of stairs, just outside the main courtyard of the asylum, is the tiny room that Vincent van Gogh called home for more than a year of his life. During his time in the Saint-Paul asylum, van Gogh managed to paint at least 142 known pieces of art.
It was really quite impressive to visit the place where Vincent van Gogh lived, worked and painted some of his most famous pieces. And after seeing Provence, France for myself on a week-long cycling holiday with Belle France, I can now see why Vincent van Gogh was so inspired by this magical place.
Provence, France is a spectacularly beautiful part of the world, characterized by sweeping vineyards, patches of pine forests, velvet flowers and delicious French cuisine. It’s no wonder so many people are drawn to this beautiful part of the world for their own bicycle touring holidays.
I absolutely adored my experience on the Provence Prestige en Vélo bike tour… and I believe that if you are an individual who enjoys the finer sides of life, then you’ll doubtlessly enjoy this high-end cycling holiday with Belle France!
Who Is This Bike Tour Designed For?
The Provence Prestige en Vélo bike tour is designed for individuals who:
Want a high-end, luxurious cycling holiday: If you’re the type of person who likes to ride your bike, but also likes a hot shower, delicious food and a cozy bed to sleep in at night, then a cycling holiday with Belle France might be exactly what you’re looking for. This is NOT a bike tour requiring you to camp in a tent or rough it in any way. This is a trip designed for individuals who want an incredible cycling experience mixed with a taste of fine French living. The hotels on the Provence Prestige en Vélo are extremely high-end, the meals are professionally prepared and the service is top-notch.
Want to choose who they travel with. As is the case with all of Belle France’s self-guided cycling tours, you can travel on this bike tour by yourself, go with a loved one, a group of friends, or anyone you please. Unlike a guided bike tour where you might be grouped together with a bunch of people you’ve never met before, participating in the Provence Prestige en Vélo bike tour allows you to choose the travel companions that will compliment you most. This trip would be perfect for those celebrating a birthday, anniversary, graduation, promotion, or other special occasion. The tour is perfect for couples, but could easily accommodate a group of 4-8 people or more quite nicely.
Are capable of cycling moderate distances. This is a bicycle touring holiday that almost anyone can do. You need to be in decent physical shape to complete this tour, but you don’t need to be a seasoned bicycle racer. Casual cyclists with a just a small amount of bike riding experience will be perfectly suited for this bike tour. The distances each day are rather short (with the shortest day being 32 km (20 mi) and the longest day being 47 km (29 mi)), which gives you time each day to explore your surroundings both on and off your bicycle. There are two significant climbs on this bike tour (with several other short climbs as well), but each of these two hills is far from steep. Just take your time getting to the top… and then be sure to take in the views from the top as you quickly make your way back to the flatter roads and bike paths down below.
Are capable of navigating on their own and repairing their own bicycle if need be. Because there is no guide to escort you along your way, you need to not only know how to read a map and follow the directions that Belle France lays out for you to get from one hotel to the next, but you also need to know how to repair your bicycle (change a flat tire, adjust your handlebars/seat post, etc.) in the event that something should go wrong with your bicycle at any point during the tour. While mechanical problems of any kind are highly unlikely (and never happened to me when I participated in the tour), at least one person in your group should be capable of changing or repairing a flat tire and making other simple adjustments/repairs to your bicycle, if need be.
Don’t want to waste time planning a tour like this on their own. More than anything else, participating in one of Belle France’s self-guided bicycle tours takes all the time, energy, and grunt work out of planning your holiday in France. Instead of spending countless days and hours on the computer, researching possible routes and places to stay, just call up Belle France (or send them an email) and they will do all the hard work for you. After your accommodations have been booked, your only job is to show up for the start of the tour, follow the instructions that have been provided for you by the tour company, and enjoy a week of cycling and relaxation in beautiful Provence, France.
Arriving & Departing in Provence, France
Getting to Avignon, France for the start of the bike tour is pretty simple. The easiest way to get there (if you are flying in from another country) is to fly into the Lyon airport (located approximately 120 km north of Avignon). Once you land in Lyon, simply exit the airport and walk across the street (no more than 300 meters) to the train station and purchase a ticket from there to nearby Avignon (tickets cost approximately 29 Euros and the train ride is a short 1.5 hours. Once you arrive in Avignon, simply hire a taxi to take you and your luggage to the hotel (Hostellerie la Magnaneraie). Your room will be ready for you upon your arrival and Belle France will have your bicycle(s) and welcome pack waiting for you at the hotel.
Use the information inside the Belle France information pack to travel from one hotel to the next, simply following the day-by-day instructions that have been provided for you by the tour company.
The Provence Prestige en Vélo bike tour ends in Saint Rémy, France, which is located approximately 30km south of Avignon (the city where the bike tour begins). Leave your bicycle(s) at the hotel (Hotel Gounod) and they will be picked up later by someone from Belle France. Then, make your way to the train station in Saint Rémy and board the train to nearby Avignon. From there, you can make your way back to the airport in Lyon or continue your travels to anywhere else in France or Europe. Making your way home at the end of the trip is a real piece of cake, and Belle France has made this final step of your cycling holiday a snap by providing you with free transfer back to Avignon at the end of the tour.
How Far Will You Be Cycling Each Day?
You don’t need to be a Tour de France racer to participate in the Provence Prestige en Vélo bike tour. In fact, you don’t have to be much of a cyclist at all. The average daily distance during the tour is a reasonable 34 km (25 miles), which means that just about anyone with a moderate amount of cycling experience can complete this bike tour with ease.
Yes, there are a couple hills during this bike tour, so it isn’t going to be something that absolute beginners are going to want to tackle, but even with the few small hills you need to ride over during the tour, this is something that almost any healthy cyclist can conquer and feed good about after it’s all over.
The second day cycling of the Provence Prestige en Vélo bike tour is the longest day of the trip, with a distance of approximately 47 km (29 mi). From there, the distances each day just get shorter and shorter. The first day of the bike tour is 40 km (25 mi), the third day is 32 km (20 mi), the fourth day is 34 km (21 mi) and the fifth day of cycling takes you approximately 39 km (24 mi).
Luggage Transport Makes This Bike Tour A Breeze
While you may choose to carry everything you need for the Provence Prestige en Vélo bike tour with you on your bicycle (in a set of panniers that you bring from home or have provided for you by the tour company), there is no need to carry your personal belongings with you on your bicycle each day as you ride.
Instead, the Belle France will transport your luggage from one hotel to the next for you. This allows you to ride your bike each day in complete comfort – while resting assured that when you reach your next accommodation, your personal items will be there and waiting for you.
The included luggage transport is just one of the many reasons so many people choose to participate in the Provence Prestige en Vélo tour with Belle France. It’s an incredible service that makes your time on the bike (and your time in France) that much more enjoyable.
Just leave your bags at the hotel reception desk in the morning, and by the time you reach your new hotel in the afternoon, your bags will be there and waiting for you! No need to carry all your heavy clothes, food or souvenirs on your bicycle as you ride each day.
Hotels & Accommodations
One of the best aspects of participating in the Provence Prestige en Vélo bicycle tour with Belle France is that they have organized the tour in such a way that you get to stop and enjoy yourself at some of the best accommodations in all of France. The properties you’ll be residing at each night are unique, beautiful, and very representative of what you think of when you think of Provence, France.
Hostellerie la Magnaneraie: Villeneuve-les-Avignon
From the moment you arrive at Hotellerie la Magnaneraie, you get the feeling you are in for something special. The gate out front welcomes you into the hotel courtyard and the friendly (English-speaking) hotel staff is there to assist you with your bags as soon as you arrive. From the lobby, the hotel looks small, but step out through the back door and you’ll be instantly amazed at the size of the property. The rear garden, patio and swimming pool are the real gems of this high-end accommodation, but the rooms are pretty spectacular as well. Each room feels more like a large studio apartment, rather than a hotel room of any kind. Wooden floors, spacious bathrooms and even a small waiting room in some of the accommodations makes your stay at Hotellerie la Magnaneraie a memorable experience.
Hostellerie le Castellas: Collias
After your first day of cycling, you will make your way across a small bridge and into the center of the tiny town of Collias. Hidden among the narrow stone streets of Collias is the Hostellerie le Castellas – a small, but well-kept hotel with large rooms, a swimming pool, restaurant, and one of the most pleasant gardens I have ever seen. After you’ve rested, take a short walk around the city, go down to the river and navigate through the maze of narrow streets back to the hotel, just in time for dinner. Then treat yourself in the dining room to a delicious 3-course meal, before eventually retiring to your room in the evening.
Mas des Comtes: Tarascon
Tarascon is a bustling city filled with people, cars and even boats! But located just a few kilometers outside the city center is the large estate known as Mas des Comtes, which also happens to be your home base for two whole nights on the Provence Prestige en Vélo bike tour. This photogenic property is commonly used as the location for weddings and other big dinner parties, so it’s no surprise that the grounds of Mas des Comtes are equipped with a massive swimming pool, dining hall, garden and restaurant. The grounds of Mas de Comtes invite you in from the very first moment, but the spacious rooms are what really make you feel at home here. Each room is as large as a studio apartment and is decorated with a wide variety of pieces – each of which serves to make you feel as though you were spending the night at the home of a close relative, rather than as a stranger staying in a hotel in some foreign country. As impressive as the hotel grounds are themselves, it is the dining experience that you will remember most here! Prepare yourself to be spoiled, as the food and drinks at Mas de Compes are about as good as they come in all of France!
Hotel Baumanière: Les Baux de Provence
When you think about “luxurious French living,” you probably envision a place that looks like Hotel Baumanière. This sprawling French resort in Les Baux de Provence is the centerpiece of the region and one of the most impressive hotels I have ever stayed at in my entire life. From the hotel staff, to the hotel grounds, and even the on-site restaurant, everything at Hotel Baumanière in 110% top-notch. While the rooms are far from extravagant, they are comfortable and upscale. The outdoor spaces at Hotel Baumanière, on the other hand, are what will really impress you, so make sure to take the time to walk around the property, pet the on-site goats, and maybe even take a swim in one of the two swimming pools (or play a game of tennis). In the evening, get dressed up in your fanciest clothes and make your way to the Michellin Star restaurant, La Cabro d’Or, which is located just a short distance up the road from the hotel. Once there, you will be treated to one of the most impressive meals of your life. This 7+ course meal will both surprise and delight you with its intelligence, ingenuity and overall presentation. Fine dining at its best, your meal at La Cabro d’Or will be something you remember for years and years to come.
Hotel Gounod: Saint Rémy
Finally, Hotel Gounod in the pleasant town of Saint Rémy, France is where you will spend the final night(s) of your bike tour in the Provence region. The hotel is located in the ideal location – right in the heart of Saint Rémy. From the hotel, the entire city is within walking distance. Restaurants, souvenir shops and even the local tourist attractions (such as the ancient city of Glanum and the Saint-Paul de Mausole asylum where Vincent van Gogh lived for a short time towards the end of his life) can all be reached on foot from the hotel. Walk in to the Hotel Gounod and instantly feel the warmth of the atmosphere in this beautifully decorated high-end establishment. Taking a quick swim in the pool on a hot day is a good idea, or simply hang out in the hotel reception area in the evening. The hotel bar is a popular hangout for evening drinks, so be sure to get there early if you want to get a seat.
Other Important Things You Should Know
- This is a self-guided bicycle tour, so you will be traveling on your own, without a guide. However, all the details for the bike tour will have been arranged for you in advance. All you have to do is show up for the start of the tour in Avignon, France and then follow the instructions that Belle France has provided for you each day.
- Because this is a self-guided bike tour (and not a group tour), you get to choose your travel companions. You can travel alone, with a family member, loved one or with a friend. You also get to choose the pace at which you travel. You can sleep in late or wake up early. You can cycle super fast or pedal really slow, while stopping to see and explore things throughout your ride.
- In addition to the cost of the bike tour itself, you will need to get yourself to Avignon, France for the start of the trip… and home from Avignon at the end of the tour.
- At the start of the bike tour you will be given a packet of papers containing all the information you need for the duration of the trip. This packet of papers contains maps of the routes you will be cycling each day, information on the sights you can expect to see throughout the tour, your hotel information each night, and details on the various excursions you might choose to take along the way.
- You can choose to bring your own bicycle with you on this bike tour, but most people simply use of one the bicycles provided by Belle France. This way you can simply show up in Avignon for the start of the tour and have a bicycle waiting for you when you arrive.
- If you do have any health problem or dietary restrictions, make sure you tell the people at Belle France at the time of your booking. They will go out of their way to make sure you are catered to and happy throughout your cycling holiday. Vegetarian and vegan meals options are available!
- Breakfast and dinners are provided at each of the hotels, but any drinks you might order (such as wine or beer) are billed extra at each of your hotel stays. If you order a drink, you will be asked to pay your bill when you check out of your hotel in the morning. Lunches and extra snacks are not included in the cost of the tour, so you will be responsible for those extra expenses once you hit the road.
- You will need to pay for everything on the bike tour in Euros (EUR). Obtaining this local currency is easy in France, as ATMs are available at multiple locations along the route. Paying with a credit card (even in small shops and at the hotels) is extremely common, however, so it’s not 100% necessary to be carrying cash (although having a small amount of cash on hand is a good idea).
- Every hotel on the bike tour has free WiFi Internet access. Internet speeds in France are very good (usually 10 Mbps or higher at most of the hotels).
- If you have the time and would like to see more of France outside of the Provence region, consider doing this bike tour in conjunction with another Belle France bike tour in a different part of the country.
- If you have any additional questions about participating in this unique bicycle touring holiday, simply contact Belle France directly. They are quick to respond to any messages you send them and they go out of their way to help you in any way they can.
Are You Ready To Go Cycling In Provence France?
My experience with Belle France on the Provence Prestige en Vélo bike tour was extremely top-notch. The hotels, cycling routes, scenery, food and people I met through this week-long cycling holiday in southeastern France was even better than I expected it to be. In the end, the tour more than exceeded my expectations and this is truly a bicycle trip that I will be telling people about for years and years to come.
If you are looking for a high-end cycling holiday that truly captures the essence of Provence France, then this is a bike tour I would highly recommend. 10 out of 10!
To learn more about the Provence Prestige en Vélo bike tour… or to book your own self-guided bike tour in Provence France, simply visit the official Belle France website at: www.bellefrance.com