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Biking Vacation Provence: The Alpilles ​

Activity Level: Easy / Moderate  |  Daily Mileage: 18 – 45 mi  |  Daily Biking: 2 – 5 hr
Air package plus
10 days from only
$3695
Price includes roundtrip airfare.
Land only
7 days from only
$2545
Pre-trip Extension:
Aix-en-Provence · 2 nights $245

Post-trip Extension:
Paris · 2 nights $395
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Detailed Itinerary

Please note: For those traveling in 2013, your itinerary may vary slightly from what is presented below.  

Day 1 - Depart U.S. / Fly overnight to Marseilles

Depart the U.S. for France. The particulars of your arrival overseas are detailed with your flight itinerary.

Day 2 - Arrive in Marseilles and transfer to your Aix-en-Provence hotel

Upon arrival at Marseilles (MRS) Airport, claim your luggage and clear customs. If your luggage is lost, fill in a PIR form before leaving the customs area—VBT representatives are not allowed into the customs area. Make sure that your VBT luggage tags are attached to your bags. This helps the representative identify you.
 
After exiting customs, enter the arrival hall and look for your VBT representative or driver, who will be holding a VBT sign. Your representative will welcome you to France and arrange for your transfer via taxi or van to your Aix-en-Provence hotel (approximately 45 minutes, depending upon traffic). Important: If you are delayed in meeting your VBT representative at the Marseille Airport, please call 04 42 93 01 44 from within France. Outside of France, call +33 442 93 01 44.
 
VBT provides you with City Information in your Final Travel Booklet that includes information and recommendations on what to see and do in Aix-en-Provence. Use the rest of the day to relax or begin exploring the city. Dinner is on your own.

Day 3 - Transfer to Avignon / Meet Trip Leaders / Transfer to Saint-Rémy de Provence

VBT No-Air Package guests: Meet at the first hotel in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence by 2:30 pm. If you arrive by train into Avignon, take a taxi at your own expense (approximately €65 euros/$85 USD, approximately 25 minutes' traveling time). Please contact the hotel to advise the staff of any travel delays or changes, and they will pass your message to your VBT Trip Leaders.
 
VBT Air Package and Pre-Trip Extension guests: Meet your VBT representative in the hotel lobby at 11:00 am and transfer by bus to Saint-Rémy-de-Provence (approximately 1 hour).
 
Our inviting hotel here has magnificent views over the Alpilles Mountains. You have free time to stroll into town for lunch on your own and relax on the hotel grounds as you settle in. Please note that rooms may not be ready until 3:00 pm. At 2:30 pm, we meet our VBT Trip Leaders for a short introduction, followed by a safety and bike-fitting session and warm-up ride. Tonight, attend a welcome wine reception and dinner.

Day 4 - Cycle to Les Baux

Breathtaking scenery and excellent cycling await us after breakfast as we cycle into the heart of the Alpilles to Les Baux de Provence. We stop at some interesting sites along the way, such as the ancient fortress of Les Baux, which sits on an 800-foot rocky plateau.
 
The beautiful village of Les Baux has many lookouts with stunning views of Arles, the Camargue and the Alpilles. Its people are proud of their cultural heritage and the historic monuments throughout their village. Walking through Les Baux is like viewing an architectural museum: its church, château, town hall, hospital, chapels, houses and doorways all merit more than a passing glance.
 
Have lunch on your own here. Then we cycle toward Saint-Rémy-de-Provence through the gentle countryside that inspired van Gogh to create more than 150 paintings. A local historian, Mathilde Duvillier, meets us in Saint-Rémy and guides us to many of the places pictured in the artist's works. The village, closed to traffic, features ancient restored houses, Renaissance facades and impressive hotels that have been converted to museums and galleries. Stroll the narrow cobblestone streets, browse the craft shops, and dine in the town that was once the painter's muse.
 
Later, meet your Trip Leaders and walk to visit local VBT friend Odile Mifsud, a well-known pastry chef. Visit her home and enjoy her home-cooked dinner.

Day 5 - Discover the heart of Les Alpilles

After breakfast, prepare for what may be the most beautiful cycling of the entire week as we ride through pristine Provençal countryside, passing olive groves and the soaring Alpilles. A small chain extending from the Luberon, the Alpilles are not very wide but rise dramatically out of the Rhône Valley. Their foothills are flanked by the Durance and Rhône rivers. The region's most famous inhabitant, Vincent van Gogh, immortalized the landscape during his time in Saint-Rémy. As you cycle, stop to wander through timeless villages, such as Eygalières and experience its lovely stone build homes clinging together along the small winding streets. Maybe enjoy a picnic in a cool field, shaded by olive or almond trees. If you want more riding, our longer option offers even more gorgeous scenery. Tonight is free for you to have dinner on your own in town. 

Day 6 - Explore Pont du Gard

After breakfast, we check out of the hotel and start our ride to the Abbaye St. Michel de Frigolet. Enjoy a visit of this revered site, which dates back to at least 1133.
 
After the visit you have the option to either shuttle to the Pont du Gard, or continue cycling to cross the Rhône River and arrive in the Languedoc region. Built by the Romans in the first century BC (and declared a UNSECO World Heritage Site in 1985), the Pont du Gard is just one segment of a 31-mile-long aqueduct created to transport water to the city of Nîmes. Much of the aqueduct has deteriorated over time, but this most impressive part still stands. Consisting of three levels, this bridge appears surprisingly delicate despite the massive stones used in its construction and credited for its enduring strength. Park your bikes and walk across this stunning architectural achievement. As you cross the lower level, you can see stones, some of which weigh up to six tons, held by iron clamps. Remarkably, the structure was built entirely without mortar. After exploring the Pont du Gard, shuttle to our next hotel. Once settled in, you have time to relax, before gathering with the group for dinner.

Day 7 - Loop through Tavel and Lirac wine country

Today's ride takes you into the Gard district on the right bank of the Rhône River. Our route follows the agricultural plain of the Rhône River, planted mainly with apples, melons, pumpkins, asparagus, and market garden produce. Leaving the river valley, we cycle through typical Provençal landscapes, vineyards and the charming village of Lirac (renowned for its red vineyards for more than 2,000 years). Here we visit an old château (farm) and enjoy a picnic prepared by your Trip Leaders and wine tasting in the farm's wine cellar tasting room.
 
Heading back to the hotel, we cycle through the village of Tavel (famous for its Rosé). Here you may wish to stop for an optional wine tasting in the Les Vignerons de Tavel cooperative wine cellar.
 
Tonight is free for you to explore the town of Villeneuve-les-Avignon and have dinner in one of the local restaurants.

Day 8 - Guided tour of Avignon

Sleep in this morning, then linger over breakfast before cycling southeast toward Avignon, fabled “City of the Popes.” Leave your bike outside the city walls and stroll the timeless cobblestone streets. We'll meet a local guide for a walking tour of this ancient city. Later, you may decide to explore some of highlights, such as the former papal residence or the immense Palais de Papes (Papal Palace). Now a museum, this Gothic building was fortified with walls up to 18 feet thick! Or perhaps you'll walk the surviving section of the Pont d'Avignon. Built in the 12th century, this bridge originally spanned the Rhône, but has suffered frequent collapses from floods. Only 4 of its original 22 arches remain.
 
The remainder of the day is yours to do with as you please. During your free time, you may wish to buy some local pottery or a handmade tablecloth. Try lunch at one of the local bistros, or enjoy a picnic by the river. In the afternoon, you can cycle or shuttle back to the hotel. Tonight, celebrate with your fellow travelers during a special farewell dinner.

Day 9 - Transfer to Avignon TGV railway station / VBT No-Air Package ends

VBT No-Air Package guests: After breakfast, transfer to the Avignon TGV train station, arriving at approximately 9:35 am. Your tour ends here. Important: Train departures from the Avignon TGV train station prior to 10:05 am are not recommended. If you depart earlier, you must make transfer arrangements from the last hotel to the train station at your own expense (approximately €35 euros/$52 USD, with a travel time of about 20 minutes).
 
VBT Air Package guests: After breakfast, transfer to the Avignon TGV train station via private , arriving at approximately 9:35 am, and continue by high-speed train to Paris. Please verify with your VBT Trip Leader the time of your transfer from your Paris hotel to the Paris Charles de Gaulle airport before leaving them. Upon arrival in the City of Light, you are met by a VBT representative and transferred to your centrally located hotel. VBT provides you with City Information in your Final Travel Booklet that includes information and recommendations on what to see and do in Paris.

Day 10 - Depart for U.S.

After breakfast*, transfer to the Paris Charles De Gaulle airport for your return flight. Please ensure you are ready in the hotel reception area at the designated time**.

*For guests with early-morning departures, breakfast at the hotel may not be available. Please check with the front desk to verify the times that breakfast is served.

**VBT transfer times and departure points are finalized in advance and cannot be modified for individual guests. If you extend your stay beyond the scheduled program dates, return transportation to the airport will be at your own expense.

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