Along the rice fields and Mediterranean waterways of the Camargue and the landscapes that were so dear to Vincent Van Gogh you’ll cycle through quaint Provencal villages, vineyards and drastic landscapes. Our tour includes visits to one of the 7 world wonders, the Roman Pont du Gard. You’ll experience wonderful Saint-Remy where Van Gogh stayed for a year and Les Baux de Provence, spectacularly set atop a rocky outcrop and crowned with a ruined castle. You’ll stay in Arles and explore its Gallo-Roman treasures and sample the ambiance that attracted Van Gogh and Gauguin to its cobblestones and cafes. You’ll visit the Camargue National Park where you’ll find wading flamingos, wild bulls and white horses in the expanses of marshland. Many art and music festivals also take place in Provence during the summer months.
This delightful cycling vacation includes the best bike routes of the region which you can enjoy at your own pace or with the helpful, multilingual guide. This tour also offers the opportunity to pedal alone (self-guided with very detailed route descriptions) or guided with the group. If you prefer the self-guided option you must let us know when booking the tour.
Day 1: Arrival in Avignon!
Our barge is moored in Avignon, the City of the Popes. Your cabin is available at 6:00 PM. A map and the name of your boat will be sent to you after receipt of your final payment. You will have time to explore Avignon in the afternoon before dinner. We recommend that you arrive a day or two early to enjoy Avignon. It was the center of Christianity in the 14th century and has been recently classified as one of UNESCO’s World Heritage sites. Here you’ll find the 12th century St-Bénézet-Bridge of the famous children’s song “Sur le Pont d’Avignon”, the remarkable Palace des Papes, one of the largest buildings created in the Middle Ages, plus the beautiful town hall, impressive churches, city walls and many intimate squares Avignon is known for. After dinner on the boat, followed by a preview of the week’s highlights and cycling itinerary by the tour guide there is time to walk halfway up the bridge and enjoy a wonderful view on Avignon and the Papal Palace.
Day 2: Avignon – Châteauneuf-du-Pape – Avignon – 28 miles
We’ll cycle today among the most renowned Cote du Rhône vineyards to Châteauneuf-du-Pape, situated in the heart of the Rhône Valley with opportunities to taste some of the exquisite wines produced in this area. We’ll cross the River Rhone in Roquemaure and return to Villeneuve on a pleasant route following the river.
Day 3: Avignon – Pont du Gard – Aramon – 25 miles
Today we’ll leave Avignon by boat until we reach Aramon, where you will start pedaling. The route today will bring you to the Pont du Gard, an exceptionally well-preserved, 2000 year old, three-tiered Roman aqueduct. Here you can visit a wonderful multimedia museum, the “Grande Expo-du-Pont-du-Gard” that explains in detail the construction of this world wonder. Overnight in Aramon with a beautiful view over the Mont Ventoux.
Day 4: Aramon – Vallabrègues – 22 miles
You start your day sailing to Vallabrègues, a pretty Provençal village on the banks of the Rhône. Along country roads you will arrive to Barbentane with its castle at the confuence of the Rhone and Durance rivers. You will cycle to the magnifcent Abbey of Saint Michel de Frigulet and afterwards down to the medieval village of Boulbon. Overnight in Vallabrègues.
Day 5: Vallabreguès – Arles – 37 miles
Today the ride is particularly beautiful to Saint- Rémy-de-Provence. St. Rémy is the birthplace of Nostradamus but better known as the place where Vincent Van Gogh stayed for more than a year producing an incredible 150 of his most important paintings. You can visit the sanatorium where he stayed before our climb up through the Alpilles hills to the unique, haunting, medieval village of Les Baux de Provence – one of the most visited tourist sites in all France – and justifiably so. Definitely visit the Chateaux de Baux for a spectacular view on the surrounding Alpilles Mountains. After a well-deserved glide down to Arles, you’ll find an extraordinarily well-preserved Roman arena and theatre and a number of interesting museums. Vincent van Gogh lived here between 1888-1890.
Day 6: Arles – Aigues Mortes – 16 miles
The morning is reserved for visiting the exciting city center of Arles, important as a Roman capital in the time of Julius Caesar and as a major religious center in the Middle Ages. You have the option of taking a guided tour of the city or exploring on your own. You can visit the quite well preserved Roman Amphitheatre, dating from the end of the first century and the unfortunately more damaged Roman Theatre. From the Middle Ages there is the magnificent Cloister and Church of St. Trophime two gems of Romanesque art. On the Place du Forum inside the old city walls you’ll find Van Gogh’s famous “Night Café”. Van Gogh came to Arles in 1888 and rented a small house on the Place Lamartin that unfortunately has been destroyed. The Provençal countryside and the peculiar light inspired Van Gogh and he painted here non-stop. After lunch you reach the lock of Saint Gilles and from there you will sail to the historic, fortified city, Aigues-Mortes.
Day 7: Aigues Mortes – round trip – 34 miles
Aigues-Mortes is a historic city in the middle of one of the most beautiful spots of Provence, the Camargue. In 1240 Saint Louis decided to build a city close to his kingdom in order to have a direct access to the Mediterranean Sea. Seven hundred years later the fortifications still dominate the Camargue. You can admire the original city ramparts with six prestigious towers and ten gates as you walk around the town walls (about 1.5 km) before entering the charming and narrow streets of this wonderful Mediterranean town. Today we offer a scenic bike tour through small country lanes between canals and lagoons until you reach the charming fishermen’s village Le Grau-du-Roi. Along the way there is the possibility of a refreshing dip at the beach.
Day 8: Departure in the morning after breakfast.
Note: High and low water issues can modify some of the daily stretches or embarkation points. These decisions are made by the boat captain when necessary. The following week’s tour will have a reverse itinerary: starting in Aigues Mortes and ending in Avignon.
Day 1: Arrival in Aigues Mortes
Day 2: Aigues Mortes – round trip
Day 3: Aigues Mortes – Arles
Day 4: Arles – Les Baux – St Rémy – Vallabreguès
Day 5: Vallabreguès – Aramon
Day 6: Aramon – Avignon
Day 7: Avignon – Châteauneuf-du-Pape – Avignon
Day 8: Departure after breakfast
You will meet the barge in either Aigues-Mortes or Avignon, depending on your tour start. Your cabin is available at 6 PM, and a group dinner and welcome meeting is at 7 PM. You will be sent a map and detailed directions after full payment is received. From Paris to Avignon is about a 3-hour train ride. Aigues-Mortes is about 5 or 6 hours, and you will have to make a transfer in Nimes.
The cook prepares all meals: a substantial breakfast and a three-course dinner of excellent quality. A packed lunch may be prepared after breakfast. Tea and coffee will be ready when you arrive on board in the afternoon. There is a bar on the boat with beer, wine and soft drinks at reasonable prices.
Check out our Tour Calendar under “Bike and Barge Tours”
8 days/7 nights
- -7 nights on board the ship (sheets, blankets and two towels)
- -7 breakfasts, 6 packed lunches and 7 dinners
- -27-speed hybrid bicycle rental, helmet, pannier, water bottle
- -Tour guide on bike (multilingual)
- -Information pack, route descriptions and maps
- -Mid-week service of cabin cleaning and towel change
- -Coffee & Tea on board
- -Booking Fee
- -Wine Tasting in Chateauneuf-du-Pape
Well-maintained, comfortable 27-speed hybrid bikes are included. These unisex bike models come in sizes appropriate to your height. The bikes have a side pannier, helmet, water bottle, and lock. If you prefer to bring your own bike you are welcome to do so but realize that bikes cannot be transported on the TGV (high-speed train) in France. A map holder/front bag is also given to the people that want to do this tour as a self-guided tour. An electric bike is also available for this tour ($120 p.p.). We advise you only to rent an electric bike if you have first tried one at home. They are heavier than regular bikes and therefore can be difficult to maneuver. In addition you can rent children’s bikes, child seats, bike trailers and tag-alongs.
This tour is rated moderate for its rolling hills with short climbs and sweet “up and downs.” There are a few days with mostly flat terrain, and a few with some rolling hills. There is one good climb on day 5 to Les Baux de Provence. All distances are approximate. The above planned itinerary is subject to change due to changing wind and weather conditions and other unforeseen circumstances having to do with mooring requirements, etc.
-museum entrance fees and private expenses
-Drinks (other than coffee & tea) on board
-gratuity for the guide
This region is known for its mild climate, warm days and cool nights. Average daytime tempuratures: April and May 65-75, June, July and August 75-85, September/early October 65-80. The average rainfall is 10 days per month, with more rain in the spring and less in the summer.