Day 1: Arrival in Avignon!
Our barge is moored in Avignon, the City of the Popes. Your cabin will be available at 6 p.m. A map and the name of your boat will be sent to you after receipt of your final payment. 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 a UNESCO World Heritage site. After dinner on the boat, we’ll preview the week’s highlights and cycling itinerary.
Day 2: Avignon – Ile de la Barthelasse – Avignon – 19 miles (30 km) – 100-meter elevation gain
Today we’ll get to the other side of the river Rhone by crossing the island Ile de la Barthelasse, and we’ll ride in the typical garrigue landscape, between vineyards and orchards. Before going back we’ll visit Villeneuve Les Avignon, once known to be the town of the cardinals. In the afternoon time to discover the historic city of Avignon.
Day 3: Avignon – Pont du Gard – Aramon – 25 miles (40 km) – 110-meter elevation gain
Today we sail by boat until we reach Aramon, where we’ll start cycling. The route today will bring us to the Pont du Gard, an exceptionally well-preserved 2,000 year old Roman aqueduct with three tiers. Here you can also visit a wonderful multimedia museum, the “Grande Expo-du-Pont-du-Gard,” that explains in detail the construction of this world wonder. We will overnight in Aramon, with a beautiful view over the Mont Ventoux.
Day 4: Aramon – Vallabrègues – 22 miles (35 km) – 90-meter elevation gain
We’ll start our day sailing to Vallabrègues, a pretty Provencal village on the banks of the Rhône. Travelling along country roads, we will arrive at Barbentane with its castle at the confluence of the Rhone and Durance rivers. We’ll cycle to the magnificent Abbey of Saint Michel de Frigolet, and afterwards head down to the medieval village of Boulbon. We will spend the night in Vallabrègues.
Day 5: Vallabreguès – Arles – 34 miles (55 km) – 300-meter elevation gain
Today our ride is particularly beautiful as we head to Saint- Rémy-de-Provence. St. Rémy is the birthplace of Nostradamus, but it’s better known as the place where Vincent van Gogh stayed in a sanitarium for more than a year and produced an incredible 150 paintings. After St. Remy, we’ll climb up through the Alpilles hills to the 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 of the surrounding Alpilles Mountains. After a well-deserved glide down to Arles, you’ll find a well-preserved Roman arena and a theatre and a number of interesting museums. This is also a haunt of Vincent van Gogh, who lived here between 1888-1890.
Day 6: Arles – Aigues Mortes – 16 miles (25 km) – no elevation gain
The morning is reserved for visiting the exciting city center of Arles, a Roman capital in the time of Julius Caesar and a major religious center in the Middle Ages. You’ll 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 slightly more damaged Roman Theatre. The magnificent Cloister and Church of St. Trophime, two gems of Romanesque art, date from the Middle Ages. 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 Lamartine that unfortunately has been destroyed. The Provencal countryside and the peculiar light inspired Van Gogh. After lunch, we’ll visit the lock of Saint Gilles and from there we will sail to the historic fortified city of Aigues-Mortes. Tonight we have dinner on our own.
Day 7: Aigues Mortes – round trip – 34 miles (55 km) – 20-meter elevation gain
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 direct access to the Mediterranean Sea. Seven hundred years later the fortifications still dominate the area. As you walk around the town walls (about 1.5 km), you can admire the original city ramparts with six prestigious towers and ten gates before entering the charming and narrow streets of this wonderful Mediterranean town. Today we bike through small country lanes of the Camargue between canals, lagoons and small villages you will have the chance to see the famous black bulls and the white horses typical of this region, as well as the pink flamingos. In the afternoon you will reach the charming fishermen’s village Le Grau-du-Roi. Possibility of a refreshing bath on the beach.
Day 8: Tour Ends: After breakfast, we’ll part ways.