Provence Biking I
Road Cycling in France with Backroads
- Incredible biking through perched villages, vineyards and orchards
- Visit a family-run olive oil mill for a tour and tasting
- Discover the vibrant artists' community of St-Rémy
- Visit Saignon, one of France's ten olders towns
- Soak up Provençal life in renowned Gordes and ochre-hued Roussillon
A Blissful Journey through the Alpilles & the Luberon
It's a slower pace of life here in southern France. Amid the Alpilles, where olive trees glisten silver in the breeze. Where limestone hills press wavelike against the ultra-blue sky. And sun-drenched villages tempt you to linger, relax over a pastis or a local rosé. In the Lubéron, it's a celebration of color, be it poppies and wildflowers in spring, lavender in summer or changing grape leaves in fall. Pedal quiet roads to medieval hilltop towns. Soak up views of vineyards, orchards and windswept countryside. And rejoice in the Provençal cornucopia: fresh goat cheese, honey, olives, tapenade, sun-dried tomatoes and heavenly pastries. Find bliss in Provence, with Backroads, on a bicycle.
- All lodgings
- On Inn Trips, all meals except 2 lunches and 1 dinner, when you'll have the opportunity to sample local fare on your own
- Expertise and services of our experienced Trip Leaders
- Snacks and beverages between meals
- Additional guides and experts from the region on many trips
- Van shuttles to support a variety of route options
- Comprehensive Travel Planner with detailed pre-trip information
- Private guided tours at museums, historic sites, wineries and other select attractions as noted
- All gratuities at hotels and restaurants on Inn Trips
- On biking and multisport trips use of fully equipped Backroads titanium bike plus helmet and accessories
- Park and other entry fees
- Fares for trains, ferries and other modes of travel
- Select coach transfers
- Baggage transfers and porterage
- Backroads water bottle
- Alcoholic beverages (Backroads provides wine at select events)
- Gratuities for Trip Leaders
- Personal expenses
Day by Day Itinerary
Meet your Backroads Trip Leaders (the folks wearing Backroads T-shirts) at 10:30 a.m. at the Avignon TGV train station. Please arrive dressed to ride with your rain gear handy.
Shuttle to Domaine de Grangeneuve 1½ Hours
Grignan Route 10 Miles with Shuttle (765-foot elevation gain)
Longer Option: Colonzelle 28 Miles (945-foot elevation gain)
Bienvenue en Provence! After meeting we shuttle to Domaine de Grangeneuve, where we taste the winery’s AOC Coteaux du Tricastin wines and enjoy a picnic in the shade of beautiful mature oak trees. After lunch your Backroads Trip Leaders fit your bike and give a brief talk on riding techniques and safety. Then head off on today’s route—lightly trafficked and off the tourist track, it affirms the joys of biking in Provence. With views of Les Baronnies Mountain Range in the distance, pedal alongside rolling lavender fields to the town of Grignan, home to a sumptuous Renaissance-style château.
If you’re up for the longer option, ride through the vineyards and quiet villages of the Drôme all the way to our hotel in Uchaux, the stylish Château de Massillan. Set in the walls of a fortified castle, the hotel offers a taste of 16th-century France while wrapping you in modern-day luxury.
Settle into your elegant room, stroll the peaceful gardens or cool off with a swim. We gather for a wine reception and celebrate our first evening in France with a gourmet dinner at Château de Massillan. The selection of superb French and international dishes is complemented by an extensive wine list featuring local domaines.
Lodging: Château de Massillan
Crillon le Brave Route 41 Miles (2,450-foot elevation gain)
Shorter Option: Vaison-la-Romaine 19 Miles with Shuttle (480-foot elevation gain)
Longer Option: Blauvac 58 Miles (2,950-foot elevation gain)
This morning we bike into the venerable Côtes du Rhône wine-producing region and through Cairanne, Rasteau and Roaix, 3 of the 16 villages awarded Côtes du Rhône Village AOC status for producing a superior quality wine under strict criteria. Make your way to Vaison-la-Romaine, a lively town tucked along the banks of the Ouvèze River. Resting on the former site of the ancient Roman city of Vasio Vocontiorum, Vaison-la-Romaine is renowned for its wealth of 2nd-century ruins. Atop a steep rocky spur in the town’s center is the Haute-Ville or Old City, crowned by the remains of a medieval castle and lined with old stone houses and artists’ studios. Explore the ancient ruins and enjoy lunch on your own at one of the delightful local cafés.
Refueled and reenergized, pedal from the river up a wooded road into the Dentelles de Montmirail, limestone mountains with dramatic serrated ridges. In Gigondas, a village whose name comes from jocunditas, the Roman word for joy, you may experience joy of your own at your first taste of the superb Gigondas wine. Then spin past immaculate vineyards and promenades of cypress trees and through Vacqueyras, which has its own outstanding appellation, en route to Beaumes-de-Venise, a small picturesque market town known for its sweet white muscat.
We enjoy dinner and an evening in the shadow of Mont Ventoux, the highest peak in Provence, at the charming Relais & Châteaux–member Hôtel Crillon le Brave.
Lodging: Hôtel Crillon le Brave
Sault Route 27 Miles with Shuttle (2,300-foot elevation gain)
Longer Option: Sault Loop 50 Miles (2,620-foot elevation gain)
Heading out this morning you’re accompanied by unsurpassed views of imposing Mont Ventoux, the ―Giant of Provence.‖ This mountain is perhaps best known for its occasional appearance in the Tour de France, and with its 13-mile, 4,700-foot, average 7.5-percent gradient climb, it strikes fear in the hearts of even the most seasoned cyclists. You, however, can rest easy knowing that you won’t face such a daunting challenge!
From Crillon le Brave it’s not far to the village of Bédoin, which features terraced cafés nestled under plane trees. An 11-mile climb takes you through the Gorges de la Nesque, a deep canyon separating Ventoux and the Vaucluse Plateau. The climb is gradual—and very worthwhile. Relish the stunning views from the impressive winding road, as well as the shade provided by several unique tunnels through the mountainside. Go at your own pace and remember to drink plenty of water! Your next stop is Sault, where shops, spacious squares and friendly cafés make it an enjoyable place for lunch on your own and a little exploring.
Consider stopping in at the church, which dates from the Middle Ages and houses Gallo-Roman artifacts in its library museum.
Shuttle back to the hotel for a leisurely afternoon, or if you’re feeling energetic, stay on your bike to log more miles and tackle another heart-pumping climb. This evening join your leaders for a friendly game of pétanque before sitting down for dinner at the hotel’s Bistro Provençal.
Lodging: Hôtel Crillon le Brave
La Bastide de Gordes Route 30 Miles (1,540-foot elevation gain)
Shorter Option: Venasque 21 Miles with Shuttle (425-foot elevation gain)
Longer Option: Le Beaucet 38 Miles (2,245-foot elevation gain)
Start the day with a warm-up spin to Château Pesquié, a Côtes du Ventoux gem where we’re treated to a tour and wine tasting. Late morning is an especially good time for tasting since the palate is still fresh. From here, pedal through a series of charming French villages to Venasque, where we stop for a signature Backroads picnic. If you’d rather bike than taste wine this morning, ride to Le Beaucet (with a good climb) and meet the group for lunch. Thanks to its quaint serpentine streets and tidy homes embellished with flower-filled window boxes, Venasque is listed among Les Plus Beaux Villages de France (The Most Beautiful Villages of France). It takes some effort to reach this hilltop treasure, but we’re sure you’ll agree that it merits every ounce of energy.
Back on your bike you may want to take a short detour to remote 12th-century Abbaye de Sénanque, set amid oak groves and a fragrant sea of lavender. If not, go directly to Gordes. Spend time exploring this picture-perfect village perché, where old stone buildings cling to the craggy southern face of the high Vaucluse Plateau, and a massive 12th-century castle watches over fields, forests and neighboring hilltop towns. Meander along cobblestone lanes leading to shady squares, historic monuments, chic boutiques and cafés.
We spend the next two evenings at La Bastide de Gordes & Spa, an incredible 12th-century fortress whose dramatic swimming pool overlooks the valley. If you’re in need of TLC, saunter downstairs in your bathrobe and take advantage of Spa Sisley’s decadent menu of services. (Spa services are not included in the trip price. It’s a good idea to book ahead; see the accommodations sidebar for hotel contact information.) For dinner this evening, you are on your own to enjoy one of the restaurants in town.
Lodging: La Bastide de Gordes & Spa
Lubéron Loop 33 Miles (1,765-foot elevation gain)
Shorter Option: Roussillon 26 Miles with Shuttle (1,475-foot elevation gain)
Longer Option: Lioux 38 Miles (2,470-foot elevation gain)
Pedal through timeless Provençal villages such as Goult, Lumières and Lacoste, which claims the Marquis de Sade, the controversial 18th-century author, as its most infamous resident. Ascend to the ruins of the Marquis’ former castle (now owned by fashion designer Pierre Cardin) for spectacular views of the Vaucluse ridge and, clouds willing, Mont Ventoux. If you’d like to explore Ménerbes, the village immortalized by Peter Mayle’s best-selling A Year in Provence, take the quick uphill side trip to the town center. We gather for a delicious picnic lunch at Domaine de la Citadelle Winery, home to the well-known Musée du Tire-Bouchon (Corkscrew Museum), displaying more than 1,200 corkscrews, some dating from the 17th century.
Head north after lunch, biking across Pont Julien, a Roman bridge built around 300 B.C., to Roussillon, which rests on one of the world’s biggest ocher deposits. Adored by artists for centuries, this village is renowned for its striking natural surroundings, especially the Chaussée de Géants, a canyon radiant with 16 shades of ocher. From here it’s back to Gordes, or follow the longer option, tackling a hill to reach the hamlet of Lioux with its imposing and magnificent cliff of grey limestone known by locals as ―la falaise de la Madeleine‖ (or ―Madeline’s cliff).
This evening we adjourn to the hotel’s elegant restaurant for a farewell dinner overlooking the Lubéron Valley.
Lodging: La Bastide de Gordes & Spa
Murs Loop 12 Miles (920-foot elevation gain)
Shuttle to Avignon TGV Train Station 1 Hour
If you’re not quite ready to say adieu to your bike, you can enjoy one last climb up to Murs, a tiny 11th-century village tucked into the forested hills. If you’d rather sleep in, enjoy breakfast at your leisure and a relaxed morning by the pool before boarding the shuttle to Avignon.
About The Operator:
Every Backroads vacation is a one-of-a-kind adventure, where serendipity is supported - often invisibly - by a well choreographed backstage effort. After 30 years of practice, we've perfected the craft of creating and delivering world-class experiences and service, both hallmarks of a carefree Backroads vacation.
We ease your trip preparation with little extras, from a recommended packing list to lodging suggestions for before and after your trip. During your vacation, we make sure your luggage is waiting in your room, you have a cool drink or a lift when you desire them, and travel logistics are handled so you can focus on fun and relaxation.
Anticipating and responding to your needs - that is our commitment!Worldwide Presence
The Best Routes
All Backroads itineraries have been carefully researched by our team of 23 Trip Specialists and 9 Regional Managers to ensure you experience the very best way to explore the region. And before your trip, the routes are once again tested by our Trip Leaders-each and every season.
Seven Days of Service
Your Backroads Trip Consultants are available 7 days a week, from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT, to answer your questions.
We've designed our trips with plenty of options that let you personalize each day and make the most of your vacation. And on each day of the trip (or the night before if you're heading out early), you'll receive a Daily Snapshot that gives you all of the important information you need so that you have control of your precious time.
Bikes & Accessories
All Biking and Multisport Trips include use of a fully equipped, custom-designed Backroads Titanium bike. Choose either upright or drop handlebars. Backroads is also unique among travel companies in manufacturing our own line of custom-designed kids' bikes. For the younger ones we offer the Burley d'Lite trailer and Burley Piccolo trailercycle.
A Choice of Lodging
We're the only company that distinguishes between Premiere Inns and Casual Inns, making it easy for you to choose a trip that suits your personal style. We provide an honest assessment of each hotel giving you an assurance of quality you can trust.
Backroads has been taking responsible travel seriously since our first trip over 30 years ago. While traveling on two feet or two wheels is the ultimate minimal-impact approach to traveling, we recognize that any travel has an impact and so we do everything we can to make the impact as light and as positive as possible.
When you're out exploring, you may welcome some time to yourself, but when needed, we are there. We pioneered on-trip vehicle support and we continue to perfect it. Read more about On-Trip Support.
Local experts team up with your Backroads leaders, offering firsthand perspectives to enhance your overall experience. From explorations of historic and cultural sites, to culinary adventures showcasing traditional cuisine, to visits with special friends we've made over the years, we take you into the heart of a region with an immediacy and authenticity you'll never forget.
One of the biggest benefits of traveling with Backroads is the wonderful folks you travel with-adventurers who appreciate the Backroads level of quality, pursue new experiences with a passion and take their fun as seriously as they take their work. "People less interested in impressing each other than in having a good time," is how Departures magazine captured the spirit of our guests. Join us-and travel in terrific company.
Nobody knows families like Backroads. From our designated Kid Coordinators to extra vehicle support to custom-designed kids' bikes (a Backroads exclusive), we've considered all angles important to families. Each family trip balances quality time together and apart, with welcome opportunities for everyone to take a break and recharge-something that's virtually impossible to achieve when you vacation on your own.
Your Trip is Guaranteed
At Backroads we're so committed to providing you with an extraordinary experience that we guarantee the quality of your trip. We value our relationship with you, our guest, and want it to be mutually rewarding and long-term.
Our Leaders Make the Trip
You'll find Backroads Trip Leaders to be the best you've ever traveled with. That's not an idle claim-it's backed by the most rigorous recruiting, hiring, training and guest satisfaction programs in the business. View the full scoop on our leaders and why you'll love them.