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Hilltop Villages of Provence Cycling – Short Break

from $2,099.00

Provence is a place whose natural light and landscapes have served as inspiration to such iconic figures as Van Gogh, Cezanne, Picasso and Dumas (not to mention Peter Mayle!), and this 4 night holiday has been designed to give you a taste of the famous hilltop villages which dot its breath-taking, lavender-scented Luberon region.

  • Reviews 2 Reviews
    5/5
  • Vacation Style Holiday Type
    Self-guided
  • Activity Level Moderate plus
    6/8
All about the Hilltop Villages of Provence Cycling – Short Break.

On this four night holiday you’ll discover the beauty of Provence – a region where refinement and tradition blend beautifully, and whose natural light and landscapes have served as inspiration to the likes of Van Gogh, Cezanne, Picasso and Dumas, not to mention Peter Mayle! You’ll look out over a patchwork blanket of fields, olive groves, vineyards and, in the south east, apple orchards which cover the floor between the mountains on either side. While the vineyards here may not be as well-known as those of the Rhone, Burgundy and Bordeaux, some superb wines are produced here – so be sure to stop off for a tasting or two.
Your itinerary has been designed to give you a taste of the picturesque perched villages which pepper Provence’s breathtaking, lavender-scented Luberon area. The hilly landscape of the region means the cycling can be challenging at times (gentler cycling options are available on the hardest day) but for each tough climb you’ll be rewarded with a spectacular view. Starting in the mediaeval town of Pernes-les-Fontaines, famous for its numerous ancient stone fountains and lavoirs, you’ll enjoy far-reaching views over the Luberon as you make your way to the ochre-red village of Roussillon passing vineyards, chateaux and castles on the way. You then head out along the Ochre Trail and along country lanes to pass through some of the most beautiful villages in Provence – each one offering stirring images along with a history which, in some places, stretches back over a thousand years – before your final stretch takes in sweeping apple orchards, typical French villages, quaint cafes and the fascinating network of caves at Grotte de Thouzon.
We’ve hand-picked a lovely selection of hotels for your holiday. The Hotel l’Hermitage in Pernes-les-Fontaines is set in 2 hectares of grounds with a saltwater swimming pool and its own orangery; the Hotel les Sables d’Ocre in Roussillon sits amidst landscaped lawns with a relaxing pool area.

The tour package inclusions and exclusions at a glance
What is included in this tour?Items that are included in the cost of tour price.
  • All accommodation
  • All continental breakfasts and 2 evening meals
  • Services of your local Headwater Representative
  • Headwater Wine Collection Service
  • GPS route directions and maps
  • RideWithGPS navigation app
  • High quality hybrid bikes
  • Luggage transfers between hotels
What is not included in this tour?
  • Flights
  • Arrival & departure transfers (available on request, inquire for supplement)
  • Single Accommodation (available on request, inquire for supplement)
  • Room upgrades and extra nights at selected hotels (inquire for prices and details)
  • E-Bike (available on request, inquire for supplement)
  • Tandems available (inquire for supplement)

Highlights

  • A lavender-scented patchwork of sun drenched vineyards, olive groves and apple orchards
  • Mediaeval perched villages: Gordes and Bonnieux, with spectacular views across the Luberon
  • Quiet country lanes and cycle paths; beautiful Provencal countryside and sleepy hamlets
  • Great lunch options; chateaux and wine estates all too happy to provide tastings
  • A variety of hotels, each with a swimming pool
  • Based on our popular 6 night, Hilltop Villages of Provence Cycling tour
  1. Day 1 Day 1 Arrive in Pernes-les-Fontaines

    Arrive at your 3 star hotel, just north of the town of Pernes-les-Fontaines. There’s plenty of time to relax and explore the hotel grounds before dinner. (Staying at Hotel l’Hermitage, Breakfast with dinner in local restaurant)

  2. Day 2 Day 2 Pernes-les-Fontaines to Roussillon 48km/30mi or 50km/31.5mi

    Pass by Pernes-les-Fontaines before setting off alongside the Canal de Carpentras and on through the beautiful scenery of the Vaucluse down to the popular town of L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue. The old town here is entirely surrounded by the clear waters of the River Sorgue. There are lots of lunch options in the town, or you could stop a little further on in the pretty village of Fontaine-de- Vaucluse. In the afternoon you climb to enjoy your first spectacular views of the Luberon before descending past vineyards, olive groves and windmills, and on to the ochre-painted village of Roussillon, the starting point of the Ochre Trail. (Staying at Hotel Les Sables D’Ocre, Breakfast only)

  3. Day 3 Day 3 Roussillon to Maubec 49km/31mi

    After breakfast, set out along the Ochre Trail to the village of Gargas where you have the opportunity to visit the Ochre Mines of Bruoux. Then head south along country lanes where a mixture of climbs and freewheeling takes you through some of the most beautiful villages in Provence. First there’s Bonnieux, from where the nearby Chateau la Connorgue (made famous by Ridley Scott’s A Good Year) can be visited for tastings. Then it’s on to Lacoste to explore the ruined castle, once a mighty fortification and now a spectacular viewpoint. From here you’ll freewheel down before another short climb to Menerbes, made famous by the books of Peter Mayle, and a great place to stop for lunch. The last leg takes you to Maubec where your hotel awaits. (Staying at La Bastide du Bois. Breakfast only)

  4. Day 4 Day 4 Maubec to Pernes-les-Fontaines 46km/29mi

    This morning you ride through apple country where you’ll see orchards aplenty. Following the lanes brings you to the mediaeval town of Le Thor, after which you pass the ruins of the fortified monastery at Thouzon, along with the Grotte de Thouzon; a network of caves carved out by an underground river. Then it’s back to Pernes-les-Fontaines where you have time to explore the mediaeval old town and the numerous ancient stone fountains and lavoirs. (Staying at Hotel l’Hermitage, Breakfast with dinner in local restaurant)

  5. Day 5 Day 5 Leave Pernes-les-Fontaines

    Please note that cycling helmets are compulsory in France for children under 12. As we are unable to provide these, we strongly recommend that you bring your own. Please see our Planning you holiday page for full details.

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Where you stay
Hotel l’Hermitage
This 19th century residence, transformed into a hotel, feels like an old family home. It is set amidst 2 hectares of grounds bedecked with fountains, many species of trees, and an orangery. The Hotel l’Hermitage is about 4km outside Pernes-les-Fontaines. The hotel also has a swimming pool in the heart of the property.
Les Sables d’Ocre
Just a 10 minute walk outside Roussillon, this modern hotel is surrounded by landscaped lawns and has a relaxing pool area. The good sized bedrooms are decorated in rich Provencal colours.
La Bastide du Bois Breant
A former farm house, once owned by a duchess and set amid its own woodland in the peaceful south west of the Luberon, the Bastide du Bois Breant has been restored to provide a typically Provencal feel, offering traditional rooms with modern features overlooking a courtyard. With a garden and a lovely swimming pool, the hotel provides an oasis of tranquility in close proximity to some of the most popular villages in Provence. Standard room type here is the Inspiration room, with upgrades available to Quietude and Plenitude rooms on request.
Eating and Drinking

All continental breakfasts and 2 evening meals included.

Provençale cuisine is a blend of many influences from the plentiful sea, to neighbour Italy and the early Roman occupation. The soil is rich and the climate is conducive to producing a wide variety of fruit and vegetables.
Whilst not the most sophisticated of the French cuisines, most dishes use the excellent tasting local fresh produce. Cooking à la Provençale uses local olive oil, garlic, peppers, tomatoes, courgettes, aubergines and wild herbs, all ripened by the sun to give an intensity of flavour. You can browse among the colours and smells, and make picnic purchases at the lively local markets.
The proximity of the sea makes fish and seafood an important element of the local cuisine. Regional dishes include the famous bouillabaisse, a rich fish stew served with aioli and rouille; the bourride – a lighter version of the bouillabaisse; pistou soupe (summer vegetable soup with a blend of garlic, basil and olive oil); authentic ratatouille, large colourful salads and delicious courgette flower fritters. Tapenade and anchoïade are savoury dips made with local olives and anchovies; pissaladière is an onion tart with olives and anchovies and is very likely to have come from the Romans.

Classification: Self-Guided
Activity Level: 2 (Leisurely/moderate)
Average daily distance on move on days: 35km ( 22 miles).
No. of days cycling: 3
Terrain: The cycling is mostly on plains or gentle foothills and we have used the quietest possible lanes to link the towns and villages. There are only occasional (unavoidable) short stretches on major roads. One or two parts of the countryside are fairly hilly, so take your time on the steeper climbs and admire the wonderful long-distance views.
Vehicle Support: This is a self-guided trip for those who prefer to cycle independently, but with our assistance to take out the stress of the logistics and planning. We arrange your accommodations, provide you with a map and route notes so that you can cycle at your own pace. A representative will be there to meet you, make sure the bikes are all set up and will be on call throughout the trip should you need.

It is important that you are happy reading maps and following route notes, we make these as accurate as possible and they are regularly checked.

As this is a self-guided holiday there is no group and no leader. There may be others on the same departure date as you, but you will not be organised together. The route notes contain a 24-hour emergency assistance telephone number should you need it and in emergencies, the local representative is normally able to dispatch a taxi or pick you up themselves. They may wish to charge for this service.

Your itinerary has been designed to give you a taste of the picturesque perched villages which pepper Provence’s breathtaking, lavender-scented Luberon area. The hilly landscape of the region means the cycling can be challenging at times but for each tough climb you’ll be rewarded with a spectacular view. Starting in the mediaeval town of Pernes-les-Fontaines, famous for its numerous ancient stone fountains and lavoirs, you’ll enjoy far-reaching views over the Luberon as you make your way to the ochre-red village of Roussillon passing vineyards, chateaux and castles on the way. You then head out along the Ochre Trail and along country lanes to pass through some of the most beautiful villages in Provence – each one offering stirring images along with a history which, in some places, stretches back over a thousand years – before your final stretch takes in sweeping apple orchards, typical French villages, quaint cafes and the fascinating network of caves at Grotte de Thouzon.

Overall Rating
5/5
Reviewed On 23/10/2017
5/5

Mrs Sawday

Excellent short break in a beautiful region of France. Just the right balance if cycling and relaxation with my teenage daughter.

Reviewed On 08/08/2017
5/5

Mr Reade

We had a great experience with Headwater, cycling the hill-tops of Provence in 35-40C heat. The Reps were great;, the bikes eminently suitable for the route; the hotels generally good; the food superb; and we both enjoyed the few days that we had.

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May 9, 2020
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