French Adventures On a Bike [Your Guided Tour to Biking Provence]
Whether you're a vacationer, local, cycling enthusiast or pro, the Provence region of France offers the most splendid cycling routes.
There's nothing better than those picturesque rolling hills, rivers, spectacular Roman and medieval ruins, fields of lavender and sunflowers, and all those wonderful vineyards and Chateaus nestled into mountain sides.
It's with good reason that the French call a bike (vélo) "la petite reine", or the queen of the road.
France is so bike friendly, that getting around by bike is often easier than by car. The country does boast the cycling sporting event, the Tour de France after all. During such major events, even during festivals and at popular destinations, parking can be near impossible and navigating through those narrow cobblestone streets becomes a tricky endeavor.
"Touring by bike is different from touring by car — you see more, for sure, but in a deeply sensory way, you experience more." - Joe Nocera from The New York Times
Of increasing popularity are electric bikes, which make for an excellent compromise. Battery life on modern models are longer than ever and there's also more recharging stations throughout the region as well. You can easily find bike rentals and electric bike rentals throughout Provence.
Whichever mode of locomotion you choose, just be sure to take full advantage of it. One of the top rated Provence bike routes starts in Arles and goes on to St. Rémy, and ends in Avignon. Since the majority of the route stays near St. Rémy, be sure to make this your prime location by staying at a vacation rental or hotel. You can see which ones are the best on Trip Planner.
This route is so cherished by families and couples alike since you get to take in the Roman arena and theater ruins of Arles, near Saint Rémy de Provence you come to the ever infamous fortress Les Baux from which the views of the Alpilles mountains are ever breathtaking. Pont du Gard also happens to be nearby if you feel so inclined to take a refreshing dip in the river.
In St. Rémy itself, there are an endless array of fine dining, cafés and bistros to explore in addition to excellent shopping and a world famous open air market. The Provencal town is also home to several monuments and museums, but better still, you can see the exact structures that inspired the painter Vincent Van Gogh.
Near town are also some excellent vineyards and olive groves which you are free to explore. Happy wine tasting. You can take this Provence cycling route as a bike tour, or as a self guided bike tour.
“We were 11 bicycling friends from Florida, enjoying a week of riding through Provence. St Rémy is first class! Market Day, wineries, see Roman ruins in the area...so much to do.” - Sarah Arcé
For those that don't want to think about cycling routes and bike rentals, there are other ways of taking bike trips through Provence. France has extensive lines of unused railways that have been well maintained over the years. Recently, these have been transformed into a new travel option: vélorails.
These vélorails are powered exactly like a bike, by pedaling, but is designed so that entire groups of people, or even a couple, can steer the ingenious device together. It follows the most popular railway paths in the region, which means zero traffic and maximum safety. The added benefit is that there are no France bike laws to research ahead of time with this option, like a recently passed new bike law banning riders from using headphones.
For anyone looking for hardcore cycling though, you might want to attempt the paths near Mount Ventoux, which is the site for stage 12 of the 2016 Tour de France and well known for their excellent Ventoux wines.
No matter your biking preferences, be sure to acquire first rate lodgings during your stay in Provence in order to feel totally refreshed and ready to explore all Provence has to offer.