A Week in Provence

  • Provence, with it’s wonderfully mild climate, stunning scenery, ancient hilltop villages, fantastic food and superb wine, it makes a perfect place for a relaxing cycling holiday.

    This week long tour has been designed to take in many of Provence’s highlights whilst also allowing time for relaxation and exploration if desired. With arrival on Saturday in Marseille we then transfer to the world cultural heritage city of Arles in the south west of Provence. Well known for it’s well preserved Roman amphitheatre and also where Van Gogh painted many of his famous paintings, Arles is a lovely little city to start our tour.

    Venturing north the route continues to the jewel in Provence’s crown, Avignon, where we spend two nights. The route to Avignon is only 45 miles and for those who would like more cycling we have an extra ride out to the Roman aqueduct at the Pont Du Gard. Our second day in Avignon sees us cycling north alongside the river Rhone deep into wine country and the area known as the Vaucluse with the vineyards of Chateauneuf-du-Pape and there are many options for shorter or longer rides depending on your preference.

    Leaving Avignon we head east passing a number of attractive hill top towns such as Gordes and Rousillion to the town of Apt where we stay for two nights. Our ride from Apt explores the area known as the Luberon with it’s numerous golden-hued, perched villages and limestone gorges. Again you have the option of a shorter ride if you prefer to take it easy.

    Continuing north our route takes us along the stunning scenery of the Gorge de Nesque and onto Sault, surrounded by fragrant lavender fields. The finale is a ride to the summit of Mont Ventoux which makes a fitting end to this magnificent tour of Provence (there is an easier ride for those that don’t wish to climb Ventoux).

    The tour runs from Saturday to Saturday and we will transfer you from Marseille airport to Arles at the start of the tour and also from Sault to Marseille airport at the end of the tour on Saturday morning. The tour includes 6 days cycling, 6 lunches, 7 breakfasts, 7 nights accommodation and all the usual back up from the Peak Tours genial guides.

    The tour runs in much the same way as our LEJOG or Channel to the Med tour with the ‘magic van’ providing refreshments throughout the tour. Your bags will be transported for you each day and we will be having some fantastic picnic lunches amongst some amazing scenery with an emphasis on finding local specialities to ensure that you sample the fantastic food on offer – you certainly won’t go hungry!

    You are provided with detailed route notes and for those with Garmins we also have GPX files of the route (or you can hire a device from us with the route loaded on). Usually a tour guide cycles at the back of the group and there is a support vehicle on hand should you require assistance. We also carry a few spare bikes just in case you have any major mechanical problems.
    We also transport your bikes to the start point in Arles and back to the UK at the end of the tour. This is included in the tour price.

    Please see the Itinerary page for a more detailed description of the route and logistics.

    2018 Dates:

    Sat 2nd – Sat 9th June 2018 Places available

    Sat 9th – Sat 16th June 2018 Places available

    Sat 18th – Sat 25th August 2018 Places available

    Sat 1st – Sat 8th September 2018 Places available

    To go ahead and book his tour please complete the booking form below or if you have any queries then please call us on 01457 851462 or email info@peak-tours.com.

  • Saturday: Arrival Day
    Arrive at Marseille and transfer to Arles. Our guides will set off from our base in Glossop on Thursday with all the bikes and stop a couple of times en route to Dover to pick up bikes. We will then be around to meet you on Saturday morning when you arrive. A coach will depart from Marseille airport at 17.30 to arrive in Arles for 18.30 to allow time to settle in before the first evening meal. Founded by the ancient Greeks, Arles also has a weath of Roman architecture and the well preserved amphitheatre in the centre of town is a particular highlight. Arles is also well known as a place where Van Gogh resided and the intense light and colours of the region inspired many af his landscape paintings.

    Sunday: Arles to Avignon (44 or 78 miles) Elevation Gain: 1306ft / 398m or 2312ft / 704m
    A stunning ride takes us northwards away from Arles and into the Alpilles National Park wedged between the Camargue and the Luberon. This rugged countryside of limestone rocks, vineyards and olive groves is perfect cycling country and we visit a number of attractive villages such as Le Beaux-de-Provence and St Remy de Provence. Later in the day we will arrive in the graceful city of Avignon. Situated on the banks of the Rhone, Avignon has a wealth of magnificent art and architecture and is also home to the worlds largest gothic palace. You may wish to spend the rest of the afternoon exploring this fantastic city or go for the extra ride out to one of France’s most famous landmarks at the Roman aqueduct of the Pont du Gard.

    Monday: Avignon Loop – The Rhone, Vaucluse and Chateauneuf-du-Pape (64 miles) Elevation Gain: 2193ft / 668m
    Covering the area north and east of Avignon we cycle along side the mighty Rhone and through numerous vineyards and charming little hamlets and villages of the Cotes du Rhone. We will pass through the town of Chateauneuf-du-Pape where you may wish to sample a glass of the local vino before returning to Avignon. If you want to take it easy then you can do a shorter ride to Chateauneuf-du-Pape and back or if you didn’t ride to the Pont du Gard then you may wish to do that instead.

    Tuesday: Avignon to Apt (48 or 61 miles) Elevation Gain: 4066ft / 1239m
    Leaving Avignon behind you venture deeper into Provence across the Plateau de Vaucluse and into the Luberon. After an easy start the route soon gives way to hillier countryside with a number of breathtaking views. You will pass by the some France’s most picturesque hill villages such as Gordes and Roussillon before arriving at the sleepy little town of Apt. There is an optional extra ride to the region known as Little Colorado with it’s extraordinary ochre rock formations and ‘fairy chimneys’.

    Wednesday: Apt Loop – The Luberon Valley (74 or 55 miles) Elevation Gain: 4509ft / 1374m
    The Luberon is named after the mountains that dominate the area and many unusual plant and animal species can be found here such as Egyptian vultures, eagle owls and Bonelli’s eagles which you may spot if you are lucky. The area is also known as the place where the author Peter Mayle wrote many books chronicling his life as an English expatriate including ‘A Year in Provence’. Another fabulous ride takes in many of the regions best routes along quiet narrow country lanes visiting villages such as Bonnieux and Lourmarin. Travelling by bike has to be the best way to explore this simply stunning region. For those that don’t fancy cycling 74 miles there are many options for shorter rides.

    Thursday: Apt to Sault via the Gorge de Nesque (59 or 30 miles) Elevation Gain: 6068ft / 1849m or 2648ft / 807m
    After the Gorge du Verdon the Gorge de Nesque is the next most spectacular gorge in Provence. An incredibly scenic road climbs gradually through this majestic gorge revealing ever more stunning views. Due to the many short but low tunnels along the road that clings to the cliff side the route is gloriously free of traffic. For those that want an easier ride there is a short cut available but you would be missing out on a truly memorable ride. After a rewarding day in the saddle you’ll be able to put your feet up in the town of Sault where you’ll be able to look out to Mont Ventoux – the beast of Provence!

    Friday: The ascent of Mont Ventoux (32 miles) Elevation Gain: 4735ft / 1443m
    We finish this tour with the ascent of Mont Ventoux. We will tackle the hill from the ‘easiest’ side from Sault, however this is still a difficult climb whichever way you do it. For those who want to relax after the ride then you can come back down the long sweeping road back into Sault or you may wish to drop down the other side and along the valley. There is an optional alternative ride available for anyone who doesn’t fancy cycling up Ventoux. In the evening we will have our final celebratory group meal together (conga and group hug optional).

    Saturday: Transfer to Marseille Airport and Tour Ends
    A coach will pick you up at 8.30 to arrive at Marseille airport for 10.30. Meanwhile your bikes will start their journey back home in our back up van and will stop of a couple of times en-route to Derbyshire

  • What’s Included?

    The tour price includes 7 nights accommodation, 7 breakfasts, 6 lunches, snacks from the back up van, tea, coffee, & hot chocolate, full trip support including a tour leader that cycles with the group (on smaller groups there will just be back up vehicles), back up van with spare parts and a few spare bikes, detailed route notes so that you can cycle at your own pace, certificate, cycle shirt, luggage transfer each day, lots of fun!

    What’s Not Included?

    Evening meals, cycle hire (available for a fee), Garmin hire (available for a fee), transport to and from France.

    Group Size

    The group will be a minimum of 8 and a maximum of 25 people. We feel that this size of group works best as there will always be enough in the group for some good company but there won’t be so many people that it becomes overcrowded.

    Accommodation

    Accommodation is in clean and comfortable 3 star hotels or top end 2 star hotels when 3 star aren’t available (France has an unusual rating system). If you are sharing a twin or a double room then the price is £1295.00 If you would like your own space then you can choose the single room option (£1545) or sole occupancy of a double (£1695). All rooms are en-suite. Prices quoted are for 2018.

    Route

    This route is easier than many of our other tours however there are still a number of hills throughout the tour. There are many options for shorter or longer rides so there should be something to suit everyone. Generally you can cycle 45-50 miles each day or up to 75 miles a day if you wish to explore more of the region. We will have back up vans to support the group. We stay in the same hotel for two nights in Avignon, Apt and Sault so if you didn’t want to cycle on those days then you can take it easy and cycle every other day if you prefer.

    Food

    All of your breakfasts and lunches are included in the price of the trip. Lunches will be provided each day in a cafe or restaurant or picnic lunches provided by the guides when the weather is good. Evening meals can be bought at your accommodation or in a nearby restaurant. We also have tea, coffee, fruit, biscuits, cake, nuts etc in the back up van that you are welcome to pick at throughout the day. We don’t provide gels or powders – only real food.

    Back Up

    An experienced tour leader will cycle with you each day and be on hand to help with any bike problems that may occur. You will have detailed route notes so that you can go slower or faster than the leader if you prefer or you can cycle with the tour guide at the back so that you don’t have to navigate at all.

    A back up van will leap frog the group a number of times each day so that help is never far away. We carry a range of spare parts so that repairs can be made en-route and we will have a couple of spare bikes available in the event that your bike has a serious breakdown.

    Bikes

    We highly recommend that you use a bike that you are used to and feel comfortable riding. Your bike should be fully serviced and in good condition before you start, this will reduce the risk of mechanical problems and unnecessary stoppages along the way. It should be noted that if you have your bike serviced before the tour then it is a good idea to ride it a few times to allow things to ‘bed in’ before joining the tour. Either a road bike or a touring bike is preferable. We have a range of road and touring bikes available for hire (£80 – £150 depending on bike choice) if you don’t have your own bike. We will take your bike over for you if you bring it to us before hand and we will take it back for you at the end of the tour as well (free of charge if you drop off and pick up or we can box the bike and post it to you for a charge).

    Fitness

    This tour is suitable for someone with a good level of fitness and who wants a challenge. If you do plenty of training beforehand you should have no problem completing the ride. We will have a training day in the Peak District available if you would like to join the group before the main event.

    It must be stressed that a good amount of training before the ride will make your tour much more enjoyable and ensure that you finish your ride. We are always happy to advise you about training plans in preparation for the ride.

    Clothing & Equipment

    Clothing for all weathers is recommended so waterproofs are recommended however it is expected that the weather will be hot and sunny on the whole so please pack accordingly. A full recommended kit list is provided and we are always happy to answer any questions that you may have.

    Insurance

    It is highly recommended that you take out adequate insurance to cover against, personal accident, loss of belongings and cancellation cover. This should cover you in the event that you have to cancel the tour anytime after the final payment has been made as we may be unable to fill your place. There are many insurance companies out there and we prefer not to get involved with recommending a particular company as there are so many policies available depending on your own personal circumstances.

  • What happens at the start of the tour?

    The tour starts in Arles on the first Saturday. The easiest airport for Arles is Marseille and our guides will be around in Marseille on Saturday morning ready to meet you when you arrive. It’s about 50 minutes from Marseille to Arles so we have a coach booked for 17.30. If you are arriving earlier then you can leave your bags with our guides if you want to have a look around Marseille before the coach arrives at 17.30. We have a group meal on Saturday night and then the cycling starts on Sunday. We will take your bikes over for you so that you don’t have to take them on the plane. You can either drop them off with us in Glossop, Derbyshire beforehand or meet us on the Thursday before the tour starts as we drive down to Dover. We will stop near Birmingham and at South Mimms services on the M25 (this may change according to the requirements of each individual group). Alternatively you can post your bike to us and we will take it over for you.

    What happens at the end?

    The final days riding is on Friday and a coach will arrive on Saturday morning at 8.30 to take you back to Marseille airport for approx 10.00 – 10.30. One of the guides will drive a van with all of your bikes in back to England and you can either meet them on Sunday as they are driving north, pick up your bike from us in Glossop at some point (no charge) or alternatively we can box your bike and post it back to you (approx £70).

    How do I transport my bike?

    Your easiest option is to drop your bike off with us beforehand and will will take it over for you and bring it back at the end of the tour – there is no charge for this option. We are based in Glossop, Derbyshire so this may not be a convenient option for you.

    Another option is to take your bike with you at the start of the tour and at the end of the tour you can either take your bike with you on the plane (we will provide a cardboard box and packing material for you and help you to box your bike). Alternatively we can take your bike back to the UK for you and box your bike and post it too you – there is a charge of £70 for this option.

    Another option is to rent a bike from us.

    Whatever arrangements you make we will be happy to help.

    How difficult is the tour?

    The fitter you are and the more training that you do beforehand will add to the enjoyment of your tour and improve your chances of succeeding the challenge. The tour is easier than most of our tours although there are many options for longer days in the saddle if you prefer. If you need any advice about fitness please contact us and we will be happy to discuss any questions and concerns that you may have.

    What mechanical knowledge do I need?

    We don’t expect you to be an expert bike mechanic but there are a few simple skills that will be a great benefit to you. The most important skill you need to know is how to fix a puncture. It is possible that at some point you will have a puncture or two so it is essential that you carry a puncture repair kit & a spare tube or two with you. It is also helpful if you know how to change your brake pads and adjust your brakes and gears however this isn’t essential. Our guides will help you with any repairs and adjustments en-route.

    What are the lunches like?

    Lunches will be a mixture of picnic lunches and lunches in cafe’s or restaurants situated in some picturesque places. We will source local specialities and provide plenty of delicious French food every day of your tour, you certainly won’t go hungry. We will have plenty of food available and will cater for any special dietary requirements.

    Will I be left behind?

    No, a tour leader cycles at the back of the group so that you won’t be left behind if you are worried about cycling too slowly. Throughout the group there will be a mix of abilities and cycling speeds so you will usually be able to cycle with others that cycle at a similar pace. Some people like to cycle fast whilst others prefer to take their time, stop for coffee & cake or stop to take photos etc so whether you are a ‘speed demon’ or more of a ‘tourer’ there usually will be someone to cycle with each day.

    What are the groups like?

    Obviously each group is different but generally they are a fun, friendly, helpful & adventurous bunch. There will be people of all ages and from all walks of life. We tend to get quite a few older riders although there will always be a few younger riders as well. So far our youngest rider (for the Lands End to John o’Groats tour) was 15 & the oldest (for the Channel to Med Tour) was 82. We think that a group of 20-25 is ideal as there will be plenty of people with similar interests & character without being such a big group that it becomes too much.

    Generally the group will be split 50/50 between people travelling alone and people that travel as a pair such as two brothers, two friends, two partners. There will be plenty of people to socialise with throughout the day and in the evening.

    Many of the people on this tour will have cycled on a tour with us previously so you may even bump into someone you know!

    What happens in the evenings?

    Once you have arrived at your accommodation you should have chance for some time to relax, have a shower etc before the evening meal. We usually arrange somewhere to eat for the evening meal so that we can all get together & you won’t be left alone if you would like to eat with others. Quite often will simply arrange a certain pub to meet up & just drift in when you are ready whilst at other places we have a set time to eat – it just depends on the location.

    Does the support vehicle follow the group?

    No, the back up van doesn’t drive behind the group at all times but the van shouldn’t be too far away if you require assistance. In the morning we have a group brief and set off cycling, meanwhile the backup driver will collect all the luggage from the various B&B’s and hotels. Once all of the luggage has been loaded, the support vehicle will leapfrog the group stopping when necessary. The backup driver will be at the lunch stop should you need anything from the van & in the afternoon will go on ahead to ensure that your luggage is in place before you arrive.

    How much luggage can I take?

    There is limited space in the back up van to store luggage. We therefore request that you try to keep your luggage size to a minimum and try not to bring too much with you. Washing clothes can be done en-route so you shouldn’t need to bring a clean set of clothes for every day. The ideal size for luggage is 70 x 50 x 30 cm and a weight of 15-18kg (or less).

    What training should I do?

    The more the better. We will provide a training guide for you so that you can build up your cycling strength and prepare for the ride in the correct way. It is important that you cycle two long days back to back whilst training & also that you cycle on some hills. We hold training weekends at the start of the season so that you can meet with others in the group, ask any questions you may have & also test yourselves amongst the hills of the Peak District.

    What bike should I use?

    The most suitable bike for this trip is a road bike, however it is entirely up to you what type of bike you use.

    Please ensure that your bike is fully serviced and in good working order before the start of the trip.

    Tyre inflation & rubber composition is important & a tyre width of 25cm is recommended for this tour. Please ensure that you have hard wearing tyres with plenty of tread.

    You are going to cycle over 300 miles so it is important that your bike won’t let you down. You may want to fit new brake blocks, tyres & inner tubes before you start the ride and also bring 3-4 spare inner tubes, pump, puncture repair kit and multi-tool to carry with you each day. It is essential that you are able to fix a puncture.

    It is also advisable to have lights from & rear lights on your bikes and try to be a visible as possible.

    Can I hire a bike from you?

    It is advisable to use your own bike if possible however we realise that it is not always possible to use your own steed so you may wish to hire one. We have two types of road bike and three types of hybrid/touring bikes bike available. Our road bikes are the Cannondale Synapse (£100) or the Cannondale CAAD10 (£125). You may choose the basic level hybrid Dawes Discovery 301 which costs £80.00 for the tour or you may wish to upgrade to the Dawes Galaxy Plus at £100 or the Dawes Super Galaxy at £125.00 for the tour.

    All of our hire bikes come fitted with cycle computer, pump, 2 water bottle cages, bell and front and rear lights. There is also a small saddle bag with a spare tube, multi-tool, puncture repair kit & tyre leavers. We can also provide a helmet for you at no extra cost.

    What gear should I take?

    We provide a suggested kit list so please contact us if you would like a copy sending to you.

    What is the male / female ratio?

    This varies with each group. There are usually more guys than gals but an average would be about 1/3 ladies & 2/3rds gents.

    Why France?

    France is a wide and diverse country which contains a variety of different and changing landscapes. France is also 1/4 as densely populated as the UK and much more rural so the roads are quieter and cyclists are treated with much more respect.

    France is the cultural home of cycling and everyone has heard of the Tour de France. We will cycle through some of the iconic landscapes that you will have seen whilst watching the tour.

    France enjoys much better weather than the UK so chances of a dry and sunny tour is much more likely than if tackling LEJOG although it must also be noted that it can get very hot in the summer months.

    France is also well known for it’s gastronomy and also fine wines and we will do out best to ensure that you sample plenty of the delights on offer. Added to that a rich culture, medieval villages and stunning architecture all of which makes France an ideal place for a long distance cycle tour.

  • Booking

    To book a tour please send a completed booking form and (a) Deposit of £250.00 per person for tours of 7 days or longer or £50.00 for all other tours or (b) The full holiday cost. If only the deposit is paid at time of booking then full payment of the holiday is required no less than 8 weeks before the start of your holiday. No further reminder is sent. If you book your holiday within 8 weeks of the holiday start date, the full holiday cost is required at time of booking.

    Cancellation by Us

    In the unlikely event that we have to cancel the tour you will be entitled to a full refund of all monies paid or we will move you to a different tour date if you’re able to do so. If the tour is cancelled because the minimum number of people required to operate this tour hasn’t been reached then you will be notified no less than 3 calendar months before the departure date. If the tour is cancelled by us we will not be responsible for any incidental expenses that you may have incurred such as travel expenses, visas etc & no compensation will be paid to cover these expenses.

    Cancellation by You

    If you have to cancel your holiday then please notify us as soon as possible. We always try to be fair and will always try to move you to different tour date if possible. If you cancel your tour less than 8 weeks before your tour start date then you will lose all monies already paid. It is for this reason that we strongly recommend that you take out adequate travel insurance to cover cover this.

    Notice of Cancellation Charge (% of Full Price)

    Length of time before the tour is due to start Cancellation Charge
    More than 60 days before start date Deposit
    Less than 60 days before start date 100%

    Cooling Off Period

    If you decide to cancel your tour after receipt of your booking form you will be entitled to a 14 day cooling off period. During this time you will be entitled to a full refund of any monies paid.

    Accommodation

    B&B Option – double or twin

    If you chose the B&B only option you will stay in a mixture of B&B’s, hotels and country pubs. If you are travelling with a friend then you will be roomed together in a twin or or if you’re with your partner then you will be in a double room (or a twin if you prefer). If you are travelling alone then you will be roomed with another member of the group in a twin room (same sex). The actual stopovers may change from the advertised accommodation providers, if this happens then an equivalent standard of accommodation will be used nearby. The majority of the rooms you stay in will be en-suite however you may stay in a couple of rooms that are not en-suite.

    Single Room Option

    If you choose the single room option you will have your own room for the duration of the trip. This will be in either a single room or single occupancy of a double room in a mixture of en-suite and non en-suite rooms.

    Sole Use of a Double room Option

    If you choose this option you will have a guaranteed double room to yourself throughout the tour. You will always have an en-suite each night of your tour. There may be a rare occasion when you have a separate bathroom but this is very unlikely.

    YHA (Youth Hostel) Option

    This option is only available for the 14 day LEJOG tour. If you chose the YHA option you will stay in a mixture of hostels, hotels & B&B’s staying in single sex dormitory rooms, single rooms, twin rooms & triples.

    Support

    On tours with 8 people or less in the group then there may only be one tour guide with you who will drive the back up van each day. Tours with 8 – 15 people in the group will have two tour guides with one guide driving the back up van and the other guide cycling with the group or both guides driving a back up van each. Tours with 16+ will have a guide that cycles with the group plus two back up vans do provide support.

    Cycle Hire

    If you choose the cycle hire option you will be provided with your bike at the start of your tour. The bike comes with everything you need for your trip although some people like you use their own saddle, peddles and/or helmet (just let us know beforehand). At the end of your tour you can simply hand your bike back to us when you finish cycling. Please see the additional cycle hire sheet for details of the bikes we have available.

    Minimum Number

    If the minimum number of people required to run the trip is not met then we will have to cancel the trip. You will be notified at least 3 calendar months prior to the start date of the trip if the minimum number (usually 8 people) hasn’t been met & you will receive a full refund of all monies paid.

    Consumer Protection

    In order to comply with EU Travel Regulations 1992 your deposit & final payment will be held in a separate account until your holiday is completed. This is to ensure the financial security of your holiday.

    Insurance

    It is compulsory that you take out adequate holiday insurance including medical cover, personal accident, loss of belongings & cancellation cover. We cannot be held responsible for your own illness, injury or loss/damage of your bike or belongings while on holiday.

    EHIC – European Health Insurance Card (for EU nationals travelling in Europe)

    This card entitles you to greatly reduced or free state medical services throughout Europe, including Switzerland. We recommend you send off for one of these before the trip and carry it with you. It’s important to bear in mind that these cards are not a substitute for travel insurance and adequate travel insurance is compulsory for this tour. This link will give you all the information you need about the EHIC. www.nhs.uk/NHSEngland/Healthcareabroad/EHIC

    Safety

    Cycling is a potentially dangerous activity & the risks involved should be considered before undertaking such a trip. We will be cycling mostly on quiet back roads however there will be times when we cycle on busier roads where traffic density is higher. All persons undertaking this tour do so at their own risk & Peak Tours cannot be held responsible for any accidents that may occur whilst on the trip. For further details please see our risk acknowledgement statement here which forms part of these conditions.

    Contract

    By signing your booking form you agree to the booking conditions as outlined above. Peak tours will carry out our obligations as detailed in the tour itinerary & any information supplied to you.

  • The following extras are available for this tour:

From: £1,295.00

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