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Villages & Valleys of Provence

Romantic landscapes of the Luberon
 
Colourful landscapes and fascinating hill-top villages provide the perfect backdrop for self-guided cycling, with luggage transfers. Let the French terroir  – embodied in the olive oils, truffles and wines – tantalise your senses and visit the famed food market and antiques shops in Isle-sur-la-Sorgue.
Villages & Valleys of Provence. 6 nights
Villages & Valleys of Provence. 6 nights
 

Holiday information

 

A cycling holiday in Provence

There’s a reason A Year in Provence  author Peter Mayle chose to settle in the Luberon: in a country of magnificent regions and picturesque villages perchés, Provence’s Luberon mountains arguably take top prize. Colourful hillsides of vines, cherry orchards, olive groves and truffle-oak plantations are dotted with a never-ending supply of proud and defiant medieval villages, each perched high above the plains and worthy of lengthy exploration.
These historic villages are connected by small country lanes, making the bicycle the perfect way to get around. Visit Gordes with its ancient homes perched dizzyingly high atop the valley; wonder at Roussillon and its colourful buildings in every hue from pale yellow to deep red; explore Lacoste and the ruins of a castle once owned by the notorious Marquis de Sade; and test out the mysterious and mystical powers of the spring at Fontaine-de-Vaucluse. Then, at the holiday’s end, make your way towards Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, home to one of France’s most renowned weekly markets, and the uncontested antiques capital of Provence.
 

2022

We are currently unable to take new bookings for this holiday.
 
Gallery
 

E-bikes recommended

Our suggested cycling routes visit many beautiful hill-top villages; we highly recommended hiring e-bikes to help with the climbs. Please see the pricing section for further details.
 

Itinerary

The key to Inntravel holidays is flexibility. You can start on the day of your choice, and are free to add extra nights.
  • The average maximum daytime temperatures and monthly rainfall relate to the nearest weather station and are intended as a guide only.

    The lavender blooms in late June/early July.
    Average temperatures and rainfall
      Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
    °C 10 12 15 18 22 26 30 29 25 20 14 11
    mm 60 64 55 53 52 38 22 47 71 114 67 62
  • Arrival in Roussillon
    Night 1: at Les Sables d’Ocre (the first of three nights here).
    As your first night's accommodation is on the day of travel, Day 1 is your first day of cycling.
  • Circular route from Roussillon: 49.5km; shorter option: 31.5km
    Our introductory circuit leads you east from Roussillon on small back roads through cherry orchards and vines. You pass – and can visit – the Bruoux mines: an otherworldly labyrinth of 40 kilometres of ochre mines dating from the mid-20th century, with cathedral-like galleries that soar 15 metres high. You then continue to the town of Apt in the Calavon valley, the world capital of fruits confits  (candied fruit). From here, you can take a shortcut to loop back to Roussillon, or pedal eastwards to Rustrel. This sleepy village is set above one of the largest ochre deposits in the world, often referred to as the Colorado Provençal for its brightly coloured earth and chaotically shaped cliff formations. Return to Roussillon via the authentic village of Saint-Saturnin-les-Apt.
    Near Rustrel
    Circular route from Roussillon: 49.5km
    Shorter circular route from Roussillon: 31.5km
  • Circular route from Roussillon: 41km; shorter option: 36km
    Today you pass the Roman bridge of Saint Julien, open to traffic for over 2000 years, before a gradual climb towards the hill-top villages of the Luberon; this is the Luberon made famous by Peter Mayle’s novels. First is Bonnieux, where the views from the ancient church extend over the entire valley (the name Bonnieux comes from the French words bon (good) and oeil (eye)). After passing through vines and cherry orchards, you reach Lacoste next, with vaulted stone archways, tiny medieval streets, the ruins of a castle belonging to the infamous Marquis de Sade, and a couple of cafés where you could choose to pause for lunch. From here you have two options: returning directly to Roussillon via the Calavon cycle path, or continuing westwards to Ménerbes, which hangs precariously above the valley on a thin rocky ridge and is considered to be one of the most beautiful villages in France.
  • Roussillon to Fontaine de Vaucluse: 33km; longer option: 51km
    Leaving the bright hues of Roussillon behind, you cycle on to Gordes. Of all the spectacular medieval hill-top villages of the Luberon, this is perhaps the most jaw-dropping: its golden-grey stone buildings rise almost improbably from the Calavon valley, spiralling in concentric circles up to a Renaissance castle. Take time to explore the narrow, cobbled streets and hidden lanes lined by old stone walls and centuries-old dry-stone huts. If you are feeling energetic, we recommend a detour to Sénanque Abbey, a 12th-century Cistercian abbey nestled among lavender fields. This longer option also climbs to the quaint village of Murs, hidden in the hills, far from the trodden tourist path. You then continue via a couple of other villages to Fontaine de Vaucluse, where you spend three nights.
    Gordes
  • Choice of routes from Fontaine-de-Vaucluse: 18.5km to 48.5km

    Circular route from Fontaine-de-Vaucluse via Isle-sur-la-Sorgue: 18.5km
    Beyond Fontaine-de-Vaucluse the plains begin, and the vines and truffle oaks give way to pear and apple orchards. Seldom-used lanes criss-cross these to lead you to the town of Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, a veritable island surrounded by the clear waters of the Sorgue river. The picturesque quays here are lined with cafés and restaurants, while ancient waterwheels sit in the cold waters (12-13°C all year round!). The renowned Sunday market stalls fill the entire town centre, while the famous antique shops attract visitors from all over the world.

    Circular route from Fontaine-de-Vaucluse via Vénasque: 48.5km; shorter option: 35.5km
    This second option takes you to the little-known villages on the northern slopes of the Vaucluse Mountains. Passing through cherry orchards, you cycle high above the plains to the tiny Provençal villages of La Roque-sur-Pernes and Le Beaucet, both completely lost in time and as far off the beaten track as you can hope to get. Continue north to the village perché  of Vénasque, where the Romanesque church harbours a baptistery from the 6th century – one of the oldest religious monuments in Provence. You then freewheel down to the plains, passing the villages of Saint-Didier (and its famed nougat factory!), and then Pernes-les-Fontaines, its pretty medieval streets sprinkled with beautifully sculpted fountains, before eventually returning to Fontaine-de-Vaucluse.
    We also provide notes for a slightly abridged version of this route, heading directly from Fontaine-de-Vaucluse to Pernes-les-Fontaines.
    Isle-sur-la-Sorgue
    Circular route from Fontaine-de-Vaucluse via Isle-sur-la-Sorgue: 18.5km
    Circular route from Fontaine-de-Vaucluse via Vénasque: 48.5km
    Shorter circular route from Fontaine-de-Vaucluse via Vénasque: 35.5km
 

Accommodation

You stay in two charming small hotels.
 

Extend your stay

What is included
  • 6 nights
  • 2 dinners
    6 breakfasts
  • luggage transported
  • high-quality bicycle
  • route notes and maps
  • GPS navigation
 
Reviews

If you've experienced this holiday first hand, why not write a review?

We are keen for as many customers as possible to review their holiday. To make it easier to do so, we include a specific review section on our post-holiday questionnaire, and this is what we publish here, unedited. Read our full review policy >

 

FAQs

If you have any questions relating to this or any other Inntravel holiday, our friendly travel experts will be happy to help. You might also find our General FAQs section helpful.
  • If your holiday plans go awry because of Coronavirus, rest assured that we’ll do right by you. Since the start of the pandemic, our flexible booking policy and prompt issuing of refunds to customers who prefer not to defer their holiday have earned us high praise in the national press.
  • We sincerely hope that your holiday experience will be as enjoyable as it would have been before the pandemic – cycling holidays are ideal in these times of social distancing, and we’re not operating holidays if the key highlights can no longer be delivered – but, naturally, there will be some changes to ensure your and other people’s safety, not least taking tests before and after your holiday for many destinations.
    Your holiday experience: what to expect >
    Safety measures being taken by hoteliers & others >
    Entry requirements for non-UK destinations & for re-entering the UK >
  • Our chosen bike rental shop will provide you with a hybrid bike with 23 gears; a waterproof map case on handlebars; panniers/saddlebags; pump; puncture repair kit; and a lock.
  • While we would always recommend that you take your own well-fitting helmet, they can be hired locally for a small fee. Please let us know at the time of booking if you would like to hire a helmet.
  • Yes, we will provide GPX tracks for this holiday prior to departure so that you can follow your route on your smartphone or dedicated GPS device if you wish. (We also provide maps and our tried-and-tested route notes, which remain the principal means of navigation).
  • We’ll send you route notes and maps 2-3 weeks before your holiday. The route notes not only contain directions to get from hotel to hotel, but also include practical information about places of interest and eateries along each route, plus cultural information about the area. On mornings when you are moving between hotels, you leave your luggage in reception as you leave, and it will be transferred ahead to your next accommodation so that all you need to take with you are a camera, sun cream, drinks, food and waterproofs.
  • You are responsible for damage to or loss of the rental bike while it is hired to you. Always be careful to lock it up, ideally to an immovable object, and remove all easy-to-steal accessories whenever you leave it unattended.
  • We can book a wide range of routes from the UK with a variety of airlines (but not, currently, with Ryanair). As well as being more convenient for you to book all elements of your holiday together, it also means that we’ll accept liability for your travel arrangements, so if things go wrong, such as the airline going bust, we’ll make suitable alternative arrangements for you. The fee for this service is £35 per person (£15 for children aged 2-11). More information on flights >
  • We can’t book flights that originate outside the UK, but if you wanted to book your own flights to London (or elsewhere in the UK), we can make all onward travel arrangements (including flights) from there. Alternatively, if you are booking your own flights to an airport in continental Europe that’s appropriate for your holiday, we can book onward rail travel and/or taxis. More information about how we can tailor holidays for customers outside the UK >
  • Since our holidays are self-guided, we recommend calling us for a chat about your plans before making a booking, especially if it’s the first time you’ve booked with us.
    The price panel shows the supplement for a single room and also the single traveller charge (this covers (luggage) transfers and other costs which are usually shared between two people).
  • Once you’ve decided on your exact itinerary (our travel experts will be happy to offer advice), you need to provide us with your party’s details, either by phone or via our booking form. At this point we also ask you to pay a deposit so that we can secure a room for you immediately on confirming availability with the hotel(s). If it turns out that we can’t secure the accommodation for the holiday you’ve requested, or offer an acceptable alternative, we’ll refund your deposit promptly and in full. After booking your accommodation and other key elements, we'll then book your travel (or you can do so if you’re making your own arrangements) and send you a Booking Confirmation and Invoice.

    More information about the booking process >
    Information about accommodation, general practicalities and more >
    Booking conditions >
  • Yes, it’s something we insist on, even for holidays in the UK. The vast majority of holidays go smoothly, but when things go wrong, it can be expensive to put them right. Buying a new pair of walking boots after your suitcase is stolen mightn’t seem so bad, but the bill for being airlifted down from a mountain with a broken leg or flown home while still recovering from an illness or accident can cost tens of thousands of pounds.

    You don’t have to take out our recommended travel insurance policy (if you live outside the UK you’ll definitely need to make your own arrangements, as the policy is only for UK residents), but you do need to make sure that you’re covered for medical emergencies – including falling ill with Covid-19 while on holiday – and repatriation. We also recommend that you are covered for other eventualities, such as cancellation and loss of luggage and passports.

    We'll ask you for the details of your policy (insurer, policy number and medical emergency phone number) so that we can help out if the worst happens while you are on holiday. It's up to you, though, to check that your policy covers the activities you'll be doing on holiday and that it is adequate for your own individual needs; we don't check alternative policies.
  • It is your responsibility to ensure you are in possession of the correct travel documents, with the correct validity. If you’re a UK citizen, you need a full British passport to travel to France, but not a visa. If you are a citizen of another country, you’ll need to check requirements with the national embassy or your own consulate.

    Current information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice for UK citizens can be found through the Travel Health Pro website. You must make sure you have adequate insurance cover for illness, accidents and repatriation (see the insurance question). You should also apply for a Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) if your EHIC has expired (if you have a still-valid EHIC, you can use this until it expires).
  • The official language is French. The currency is the Euro. French time is GMT/UTC + 1. It uses Daylight Saving Time, so in summer is on BST + 1.
  • For information on the practicalities of travel now that the UK is no longer part of the European Union, visit www.gov.uk/visit-eu-switzerland-norway-iceland-liechtenstein.

    At Inntravel we work in close partnership with our hoteliers, taxi drivers and other local suppliers to provide our self-guided holidays directly to you. We are entirely confident that you will continue to receive the usual warm welcome from them, regardless of what is happening in the European political sphere.
  • The UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) provides up-to-date, country-by-country travel advice, as well as information on security, local laws, passports and visas for UK citizens.
    If you live outside the UK, see our essential travel information page for a list of relevant websites.
Last fetch time is : 12/1/2021 3:35:33 PM