Cycling holiday Provence: Across the Rhône through the Lavender fields of Provence
8 days / 7 nights | Ship: MS Provence | Guided and self guided tour
Highlights of this bike and boat trip
✔ Via Rhôna cycling route
✔ Wine village Châteauneuf-du-Pape
✔ Avignon, city of the Popes
✔ Vincent van Goghs Arles
A brand new bike and boat tour in France featuring Lyon and the Provence! Your floating accommodation, the deluxe MS Provence, will cruise the Rhône river, from Lyon to Arles or reverse. You will cycle much of your itinerary on the Via Rhôna, the Rhône Cycle Route, which follows the course of the mighty Rhône all the way down to its delta on the French Mediterranean coast.
Lyon, at the confluence of the Rhône and Saône rivers is the third largest city in France. Its history goes back to the times of the Romans but was inhabited even before that by Celtic tribes. Here you begin or end your tour and you will find the historical and cultural essence of the region, known for its wine and cuisine. You will cycle a rolling landscape, dotted with imposing castles, ancient monasteries, and pass through delightful Provençal villages, vineyards, and fields of sunflowers and lavender that were so dear to the painter Vincent van Gogh.
Cycling level 1: Distance: 35-50 km average per day. Altitude: 0-100 hm average per day. The lightest cycling holiday; over mostly flat terrain, with not too long daily distances (average 50 km). Short spicy slopes with height differences of up to ± 100 meters occur.
Lyon to Arles (North to South route)
Day 1: Embarkation at Lyon
You are expected to arrive on our barge on Saturday the latest at 5 PM. When you arrive on board the ship, you can put your luggage away in your cabin and then enjoy a cup of coffee or tea. Time to meet the crew and your fellow travelers for this week.
Day 2: Lyon – Tournon-sur Rhône (Cycling 42 km / 26 miles)
Get ready for incredible scenery, tastes, and fragrances! Sailing to Vienne where you start your cycle tour. You immediately bike into the nature reservation Île au Beurre where you can enjoy the peace and quietness of nature. The landscape slowly changes into that of vineyards as you enter the land of the Côte Rôtie.
The vineyards are unique because of the steep slopes facing the river and their stone walls. The landscape changes again, this time into the green landscape of the Ardèche countryside Here you can find the boat moored in Andance. During dinner, the ship will navigate to Tournon sur Rhône.
Day 3: Tournon sur Rhône – Le Pouzin (Cycling 33/58/73 km / 20/36/45 miles)
On the short route this morning the captain and his crew start the day early to bring you to the city of Valence, where the boat will arrive after breakfast. This town with its colorful markets and it’s historic “Quartiers” is the starting point of your cycling day featuring the typical small villages of the Ardèche, historic sites, and the green meadows of a nature reserve towards Le Pouzin in the Drôme area.
The long route takes you inland to the Drôme region and the ancient city of Crest with its imposing defense tower that overlooks both the river and the city.
The third option is an exceptional one and needs pre-booking. From Tournon an old steam train takes you and your bike up to Lamastre, the starting place of the Dolce Via bike route. The next 73 kilometers you will ride along an old railway line that has been turned into a bike route. You ride through the imposing mountainous landscape of the Ardèche through tunnels and along ravines. The route is partly unpaved. A day for the good cyclists.
Day 4: Le Pouzin – Viviers (Cycling 42 km / 26 miles)
Today the tour brings you pass the medieval abbey of Cruas and further along you will be crossing a memorable rope bridge in Rochemaure. Though built in built by Marc Seguin in 1858, the architect was inspired by the castle ramparts. This bridge can be seen as a symbolic passing from old to new, from history to the future. At the end of the day you will be parking your bike next to the boat and you can enjoy a stroll through the historic village of Viviers.
Day 5: Viviers – Avignon (Cycling 40 km / 25 miles)
After a morning sail, the bikes will be put ashore at Roquemaure. From here you will bike straight into the village of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. You might want to purchase a bottle of wine of the same name to take home! Once you pass the hilly landscape around Châteauneuf-du-Pape, you are rewarded with an almost completely flat bike path along the river. Soon you will enjoy a panoramic view of Avignon, the home of the Popes in the 14th century. In this city, you can wander the old streets, enjoy the French way of life on the squares with their terraces, and just breath the culture.
Day 6: Avignon – Tarascon/Arles (Cycling 50/58 km / 31/36 miles)
Many choices today on the ride from the ancient city of Popes to the South. The longer and easier route (58 km) takes you on a relaxed ride along the river on the Via Rhôna.
The shorter but more strenuous route is a breathtaking stage, which brings you to the Alpilles, with the perched villages of Les-Baux-de-Provence and Saint Rémy de Provence. A landscape of limestone cliffs and olive trees will accompany the trip.
For the very keen cyclists we have the option of a long ride inland (more than 70 km) that brings you to the best preserved Roman aqueduct in Europe: Pont du Gard.
Day 7: Tarascon/Arles – Arles (Cycling 21/50 km / 13/31 miles)
For those who want to explore Arles and all the cozy corners Van Gogh once painted we have prepared an nice short route of only 21 kilometers.
If you want to spend your last day cycling the longer option (50 km), we offer an interesting ride into to Camargue, the river delta of the Rhône. Here you will find salt marches and century old traces of human population. You might even see the famous Camargue wild horses.
Day 8: Arles, end of the tour after breakfast
After breakfast your tour along the Rhône and through the Provence ends.
The program is subject to change without notice.