Bespoke Cycling Holidays in Provence
Many of the cycling tours we deliver in Provence are for customers who want us to deliver a particular wish list. It may be just a small tweak to an existing tour such as adding a day to explore the islands off the coast by boat or, more usually, developing a whole tour just for them. (also see Bespoke Planning)
You can combine the jewels of the coast with the lavender fields or the Camargue and, once we know your specific dates we can fit it to the local cultural calendar of events. We might time your journey to match markets days or, identify events such as an onion or honey festival that might be found along the way, to name just two.
Fellow Velo have been cycling, playing and living in Provence for decades and have an intimate knowledge of what is on offer. So, come and discover or rediscover Provence; it has so much to offer, from its rugged coastline to its hill top villages, from the shimmering heat of olive groves to the knarled vines standing to attention in rows and, from sleepy villages that time appears to have forgotten to vibrant markets full of local produce.
After your day’s cycle, relax and sip a glass of local wine as you listen to the evening cicadas, with the sky a painter’s dream as the sun sets.
So if you have ever had that “what if” or “wouldn’t it be nice to” cycling idea then, just ask us and we will build a tour around you – let us help you make your cycling dreams come true. See the sections below for just a few ideas . . .
Provence Wine Tours
There are some that might suggest that for great wines in France, you must head to Burgundy or Bordeaux, and they undoubtedly have their fair share but, you can find world class wine makers in Provence as well. Chateauneuf du Pape often takes the Provencal wine headlines but, great quality wines can be found (and even stumbled over) across the region, from Bandol on the coast to some real hidden gems in the Var.
On our bespoke cycling tours, we can make wine-tasting the main theme of your journey or, add one or two special days to a longer tour plan. On this type of addition to a cycle tour, we often provide a fully guided service for these days, even when the main tour is planned as a self-guided package.
It can be easy to give in to the temptation to buy in bulk but, it’s obviously not so simple to continue along the trail with your cellar in tow. However, the experience of wine-tasting at individual chateaux and, at local co-operatives is a truly great one and, just a bottle or two surely won’t slow your journey too much.
The Lavender Fields of Provence are one of those archetypal images of the region. They are found across most of the breadth of northern Provence but, if you want to experience the lavender in full bloom then, you need to choose your dates carefully.
The fields can be in full flower in June, July and August but this can only be used as a general guide; different varieties can be harvested at different times, the variety of locations and changing topography also has an impact and, like vintages of wine, the prevailing weather of a specific year will have its own influence too.
Mid June to mid July is usually best, as harvesting often starts from then onwards however, you can sometimes be lucky and find the blooming season stretching into August as well.
We usually offer cycling through the lavender as part of a guided tour, as we aim to lead our customers a little off the main tracks to gain the very best experiences. Even just a two or three day element of a wider cycle tour can provide you with a truly immersive experience in the lavender. If you haven’t had the opportunity to share in this before, prepare yourself for more than just the beauty, you’ll be amazed by the smells and the sounds that lavender fields generate.
The Liberation 1944
There is no doubt that as a bespoke cycling theme, the Liberation of Provence in 1944, can fill only a small part of the cycling season but, it can provide a wonderful history lesson, still within the lifetime of some local people. It may be just for a week or so in the middle of August but, over a few consecutive days (almost at cycling pace) you can trace the liberation of towns and villages and, still share in some of the celebrations that continue to this today.
On a small village’s Mairie wall, near our Provence base there is a plaque that reads, “This was the first village to be liberated in Provence, at 03.00 on Sunday 14th August 1944″.
The humble bicycle often played its part in the actions that helped to liberate France and, was a tool of war for the Resistance through the maquis.
Gorges Rivers and the Sea
The beauty, the tranquillity and sometimes the raw power of water in the landscape can be a great draw for us all and, following its journey, sometimes from the source to the sea, can be a great hook for a cycle touring holiday. There’s the obvious attraction for some that it can provide at least a level, if not a down hill ride; and this does often work out to be the case but, even following a river’s course can place hills in your path.
We can design and create bespoke tours based around;
• a meandering trail along the Mediterranean to the French Riviera,
• the awe inspiring Gorges du Verdon, with its more adventurous challenges,
• a great river like the Rhone, shadowing the Viarhona or,
• a more gentle Provencal course from the source to the sea.
The Camargue, in the far west of Provence, has a wild beauty that can feel like another world; a landscape shaped by both nature and, the human endeavours which have sought to tame, reclaim and gain from it. It has distinctive architecture and a very particular mix of flora and fauna; from the Sansouire, to the plethora of orchid varieties and, on to the wild rice – from white horses to black bulls and, of course those flamingoes.
For the cyclist, the Camargue is a level landscape so there’s a certain ease in exploring it from a comfy saddle, but sometimes the key is about finding your way through the sandy trails and saltwater lagoons. It can be explored as a mini cycling tour, added to make a two-centre cycling holiday or even, connected to long distance trails. The Viarhona Cycle Route from Geneva ends near here and, connections can be made along the Mediterranean to link with the Canal du Midi and so, right across southern France to the Atlantic Ocean.