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Medieval Villages of Provence

from $2,849.00

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 7 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 4 Reviews
    5/5
  • Vacation Style Holiday Type
    Self-guided
  • Activity Level Moderate plus
    6/8
All about the Medieval Villages of Provence.

On this seven 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 but for each tough climb you’ll be rewarded with a spectacular view. Starting in the medieval 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.
  • 7 nights hotel-to-hotel 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
  • Medieval 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
  1. Day 1 Day 1: Arrive in Avignon

    Time for a stroll in this beautiful town before dinner (pay locally).

  2. Day 2 Day 2: Avignon to Pernes-les-Fontaines

    There’s lots to discover in Avignon, including its 14th century Palais des Papes and the famous Pont d’Avignon. In the afternoon we transfer you to Pernes-les-Fontaines and the Hotel l’Hermitage. Dinner here is included (in a local restaurant).

  3. Day 3 Day 3: 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; this is the starting point of the Ochre Trail and your home for the next two nights.

  4. Day 4 Day 4: At Roussillon (Optional) 24km/15mi

    Explore Roussillon, one of the Plus Beaux Villages de France, to discover its ochre-red rocks, stone buildings and unusual rock formations known as the ’Provencal Colorado’. For those wanting a longer day out, it’s a scenic cycle ride through Provencal countryside up to the picturesque perched village of St Saturnin-les-Apt with its crumbling castle and one of the best views in the Luberon.

  5. Day 5 Day 5: Roussillon to Maubec 49km/31mi

    Take the Ochre Trail to the village of Gargas and visit the Ochre Mines of Bruoux. Take the cycle path to the medieval town of Apt, then continue on to enjoy Bonnieux with its lovely chateau, ruined castle at Lacoste, and Menerbes, made famous by author Peter Mayle. You’ll stay at La Bastide du Bois Breant for two nights.

  6. Day 6 Day 6: At Maubec (Optional) 26km/16.5mi

    Take a circular ride past the orchards and meadows to the pretty villages of Lagnes, Robion, and the beautiful watermill in Taillades. Or you could take a taxi to Saint-Remy-de-Provence, with its delightful old town, Roman site and monastery.

  7. Day 7 Day 7: Maubec to Pernes-les-Fontaines 38km/24mi

    Follow the lanes and pass the orchards all the way to the medieval town of Le Thor, then pass the ruins of the monastery at Thouzon. Continue on to Pernes-les-Fontaines and explore this medieval old town.

  8. Day 8 Day 8: 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 Bristol
Situated just inside the city walls and a stone’s throw from the station, the Hotel Bristol sits in the historic centre of Avignon. It is located along the main street which leads to the city’s main attractions; the Place de l’Horloge, the Palais des Papes and the famous Pont d’Avignon – all within a 15 minute walk. It is also ideally located to do some shopping! Inside, the lounge with its thick carpet and leather armchairs provides a cosy atmosphere. The rooms are modern and offer a variety of bed and bathroom options. There is no restaurant here but with such a huge selection right on the doorstep, you only have to step outside to explore the numerous possibilities.
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 savory 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: 5 (Including one optional ride)
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 08/10/2019
5/5

Mrs Leach

We were very well looked after on our first self guided cycling trip with Headwater. There were some small issues with train travel bookings and with our bikes but the local rep Joey was fantastic, contactable any time and extremely helpful. We would definitely go back. Provence was beautiful, and the route interesting. The hills particularly into the villages are pretty steep and it was striking how many folk were using e-bikes which we previously thought of as “cheating” but would definitely consider in the future to make more beautiful hilltop towns more easily accessible. A great holiday

.

Reviewed On 03/10/2019
5/5

Mrs Spafford Jones

My husband survived ( just) on his flawed e-bike while I on my normal bike had to go really slowly, lots of stopping and starting because of the ap which caused me considerable distress as it was on my husband's hearing-aids so I had no idea what was going on. Give me a good old OS map any day! Other than that we had a lovely time.

Reviewed On 15/08/2019
5/5

Ms Moxon

A wonderful all round experience. Highly recommended

Reviewed On 12/08/2019
5/5

Mrs Rawle

An excellent, relaxed holiday. Avignon was easy and interesting to explore on foot from the first hotel. The cycling was occasionally challenging, but never exceeded the "2+" rating, Drivers were always considerate towards cyclists. Accommodation, swimming pools and food were good all round and well-earned! The hoteliers were very helpful and most of the dining was al fresco. English was widely spoken, and even where it was not, locals were willing to communicate.

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