Provence 12 Days - Daily Schedule
Arrive in Avignon in the late afternoon and journey to Pernes-les-Fontaines, a town boasting more than 36 fountains. Our accommodation for the first three nights is in an elegant former manor house, set in an exquisite park with a pool. On this, our first evening, we’ll stroll to a nearby local restaurant for an introductory Provençal feast.
Today we travel by canal path to the splendid market of Carpentras. We explore the tiny back lanes and character-packed buildings of Carpentras, for lunch – a sybaritic picnic feast near the Auzon river – then a chance to explore the countryside of the Comtat Venaissin, looking out for truffières, the loosely-guarded stands of oak trees that harbour developing truffles. We’ll travel to Venasque, classified among the most beautiful villages in France. Take the chance to learn the sweet secrets of nougat making and visit the local cave co-operative. On return to Pernes, you can make your own dining choice at your own expense (there are some lovely cafes).
Market day at Pernes, busy, bustling and full of colourful local characters. Mid morning, we take the scenic route to Fontaine-de-Vaucluse, where we’ll select a magnificent site near the source of the River Sorgue for another pique-nique. We return to Pernes on the canal path and, that night, enjoy another great meal, this time in Carpentras.
After breakfast, we set out by a choice of routes to the small town of Caromb where we are staying near the centre. The preferred route is via Provence’s best-known antiques market, held in the picturesque town of Ile-sur-la-Sorgue, with its canals and waterwheels, or we could travel directly to Caromb by canal path, farm tracks and small roads through fields of olives and grapes, with the bulk of Mont Ventoux always visible. Our dinner features local specialities and wines of the terroir.
We go to the best regional market at Bédoin, where the group selects picnic fare, then up le Mont Ventoux, the "giant of Provence", for our pique-nique. Wonderful views! This is the scene of many epic Tour de France stages, but the majority of us will make our ascent of Ventoux by bus. Some may like to pit themselves against the upward slope…? After lunch, you’ll find the 21km downhill ride back to Bédoin via road very satisfying! In the late afternoon you have the option of visiting the very large cave co-operative with its museum of viticulture.
A day at leisure to explore the Caromb area including the tracks around the tiny Lac du Paty, the perched villages of Le Barroux and Crillon-le-Brave, or make a return visit to Carpentras or to the market at Vaison-la-Romaine (by bus if you like). Visit the 12th century church of St-Maurice, across the square from our hotel. Tonight, watch the sun go down on the lace-like rocks of the Dentelles de Montmirail during our dinner at Les Geraniums, in the perched village of Le Barroux.
Today we transfer to Vaison-la-Romaine, founded during the Roman Empire. We travel there by a choice of routes: first to Beaumes-de-Venise – where we visit an olive oil mill, and sample the wonderful muscat wines at a nearby winery, visit an 11th century church, then follow small tracks to the famous wine town of Gigondas. On through the Dentelles to the beautiful village of Séguret, or follow countryside pathways to Vaison-la-Romaine. Our accommodation is comprised of several sensitively restored medieval houses set high above the river. You’re at leisure to explore this fascinating town, which boasts extensive Roman remains, a large medieval quarter and an excellent shopping centre. Dinner is included.
We explore the countryside around Vaison. The olive capital, Nyons, and the artists’ village, Crestet, are definitely worth a visit, and just a short bike-ride away. And in the evening we climb up to the ruined chateau high above the medieval town to toast the sinking sun on Mont Ventoux with a glass of Beaumes-de-Venise. Dinner is in the medieval quarter – your own choice of venue.
We leave Vaison and travel through the appellation of Côtes-du-Rhone-Villages, on road or tracks, heading for Orange, with its huge Roman theatre and Arc de Triomphe. On to Chateauneuf-du-Pape, where during dinner at our hotel you can test the fabled local wines.
A leisurely start, or a major ride – you decide! Cross the mighty Rhône to follow the west bank to Avignon, city of popes. This historic and beautiful city is one of the most cycle-friendly cities in France and is the scene of many musical festivals. Our accommodation is set among farmland on an island in the middle of the Rhône, with a swimming pool.
Explore the magnificent city at your leisure. Make a point of seeing the famous bridge, the Palace of the Popes, and (in the afternoon), the sophisticated shops. The Pont-du-Gard, the Luberon, Les Baux and Arles are all readily accessible by public transport. For our final evening together, share our famous au revoir feast of Provençal delights, overlooking the Rhône and near the famous Pont d’Avignon.
A farewell breakfast, and filled with joie de vivre (and not a kilo heavier?) we go our separate ways having savoured a wealth of new experiences, wonderful food, great wine and made new friends.
NZ$4995 (GST not applicable). A single supplement applies (if you have an individual room).
Footnote: The organiser reserves the right to change any details in this outline, should this prove necessary.
Included in the cost of each 12-day escorted active gourmet tour:
- Daily support vehicle (no panniers or backpacks needed!). You can easily transfer luggage and any purchases you make in the markets and antique shops this way.
- An experienced facilitator with knowledge of the attractions, the people and the history of the area.
- Quality accommodation in properties of character, for the most part with private facilities. We stay two to three nights on average in each place, using the base to explore the environs.
- Hire of quality mountain bikes with front suspension.
- Seven gourmet dinners featuring the best of regional specialties, four lunches including spectacular picnics — not forgetting the special au revoir banquet on our final night. Several times you’ll get the chance to ‘follow-your-own-nose’ for midday and evening meals.
- All breakfasts, including exquisite homemade preserves.
- Our active gourmet tours offer a range of routes from undemanding to taxing, through the very heart of stunning countryside. High fitness levels aren’t essential though reasonable fitness is preferable.
- Pre-trip guidance (and cycle instruction is available if required).
- Tutored wine tasting and special events.
- Rest days and independent exploration possible (we supply very detailed maps that allow a choice of routes).
- Literature, including a detailed itinerary, clothing guide, use of large-scale maps of the area and general advice on travelling in Europe.
- Daily briefing and guidance.
- Water bottle and hat.
- Luggage transfer between localities.
- A sense of adventure is compulsory!
- Chateau and museum entry fees (you choose!).
- Gratuities and drinks.
- Golf-club hire and green fees where applicable.
- Fishing tackle hire and lessons where applicable.
- Visas and passports (as necessary).
- Travel insurance (mandatory).
- Personal items, eg, laundry, telephone, e-mails are all at extra cost.
- Limited number of days available?
- You can join in for a shorter time. We also offer associated walking or car itineraries for non-cycling partners.
See our FAQ page for more information.
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