Tandem Bicycle Tour 2024
Provence Tandem Bicycle Tour
Join Cycles Chinook and our local guides, Smith, Claude and Jean-Christophe*, for an exploration of the natural and roman sites of Provence and go deeper into the Luberon region. Smith and Claude have been riding tandems for 30 years and have made many tandeming trips to France, where Claude is from and where they currently live. Jean-Christophe, owner of Active French School has taught French for nearly 30 years, including at an immersion school in Provence where he guided students on excursions to explore the region.
This is a 9-day tandem-specific cycling tour, starting and finishing in Arles with three host towns. There will be 3 required days of riding in order to move onto the next village, otherwise each day provides options for easier or more challenging rides, or an opportunity to explore local culture off the bike, depending on your goals.
We will stay 5 total nights (2 at the beginning of the tour and 3 nights when we return) in the coastal village of Arles with numerous historic sites. We will enjoy local wines (the famous Cote du Rhone, reds and roses) and other specialties. We will visit the spectacular Pont du Gard and spend a few days in Arles, with its roman Arena, antique baths and museums. A loop ride will allow you to explore Les Baux and Carrières de Lumières. Arles is the area where Van Gogh got a lot of inspiration for his painting. You can make a small detour to view his famous bridge.
From Arles we ride to Bedoin for 2 nights at the Hotel des Pins. From Bedoin, we’ll challenge our legs on the famous Mont Ventoux or the Gorges de la Nesque or you may chose to explore a flatter, scenic alternative route to visit the natural beauty of the region. After our stay in Bedoin we’ll ride to the village Apt for 3 nights.
In Apt, we will discover an ancient dolmen and a Roman bridge near Bonnieux, and ride a scenic bike path into Apt. From Apt we will discover a wilder side of the Luberon. Goat cheese lovers will relish the visit to Bannon, and the fruit preserves in Apt. And we’ll enjoy a trip to the locally renowned Saturday market before our return trip to Arles.
Luggage service will be provided to transport one suitcase or duffle bag per rider. We just ask that you try to pack light for the tour as we’ll be lifting and transporting bags. Please let us know if you’d like store extra items with your bike cases or if you need to bring additional items. It can be arranged.
For the optimum balance of camaraderie and familiarity, this tour is limited to a maximum of 10 tandem teams, and a minimum of 5 teams. *Jean-Christophe will participate as an additional guide with a group of 20 riders to provide a total of 5 guides for the trip. Groups of less than 20, we will have 4 guides.
June 8 – 18, 2024
NIGHTS OF LODGING:
20 person max
DAYS OF CYCLING:
$3,500 USD per person
Arles – Arles 102km – 179m or 85 km – 151m (Visit the Camargue)
- Option 1: Aigues-Mortes –This route takes you to the Camargue and the walled medieval town of Aigues-Mortes and the salt marshes that still produce today.
- Option 2: Flamingos while cycling through the Camargue hopefully see pink flamingos and cross the Rhone on a ferry and take the bike path to Arles to see Van Gogh’s bridge.
Arles – Bedoin 95 km / 700 m
- After Cavaillon you can visit the old town of L’isle sur La Sorgue to see the canal and old water wheels still in use.
- The long route heads to Fontaine de Vaucluse where the Italian poet Petrarque wrote his most famous work for Laura.
Bedoin to Mont Ventoux 90 km / 2150 m or 85 km / 1300 m
- Longer route is climb up to Mont Ventoux and come back through Sault and Gorges de la Nesque
- Non-Ventoux option is to climb to the top of the Gorges de la Nesque and descend the gorges.
Bedoin – Apt (55km – 900m)
- Climb through the Gorges de la Venasque and visit Abbey de Senanque, Visit the village of Bories, then return to the prettiest village in France (Gordes), then visit Roussillon and its ocre quarry. Then enjoy a nice downhill ride into Apt.
Apt – Banon – Apt – 90km – 1050m
- Discover the wilder side of the Luberon. The Veloroute takes us towards a canyon: the Gorges d’Opedette. We then continue to Banon and its famous goat cheese wrapped in chestnut leaves. Then it is a blissful downhill to Apt. Some teams might be interested by a stop in the Colorado de Rustrel on the way to Apt.
- After-ride Activity: Wine tasting at a local winery
Apt Cereste – Col dei Masco – Lourmarin – Apt – 80km – 1100m
- The Veloroute gets you near Cereste via lavender fields roads.
- Climb to the col de Maisco, descend the beautiful road to Vitrolles (restroom and water in Vitrolles). You can make a stop near Etang de la Bonde for a picnic and a coffee, then to Lourmarin and the beautiful climb through the gorge to Bonnieux where you can enjoy a great view of the Luberon valley. Then enjoy a fun descent back to Veloroute du Calavon (https://www.veloloisirprovence.com/page/la-veloroute-du-calavon).
- Quick detour from Apt to visit:
- Pont Julien: 3rd Century BC roman bridge still in use today as part of the bike path.
- Dolmen de L’Ubac (https://www.parcduluberon.fr/geosite/dolmen-de-lubac/?lang=en)
- Fondation Blachere : Contemporary Art from Africa (https://www.fondationblachere.org/)
- After ride activity: (Possible group tour at The Faience Factory of Apt. https://www.faience-apt.fr/art-et-tradition. Set up pottery demonstration. Make note to request small wares for souvenirs)
Apt – Arles – 90km – 460m or Long option of 110k – 1100m
- The short route takes the veloroute du Calavon takes you back to Pont Julien, the dolmen and back to Arles.
- The long route takes you to a few overlooks over Saignon and Bonnieux, and then Lacoste where the Marquis de Sade lived. More lavender fields and great views on the plateau. Very Large Bories in the fields.
- About 10k before getting back into Arles you must stop at the aqueduct of Barbegal mill to view part of the roman aqueduct in olive field that is part of the same network as Pont du Gard (https://www.alpillesenprovence.com/en/fiches/meunerie-hydraulique-de-barbegal/)
Arles – Pont du Gard – Arles – 90 km – 500m
- Pont du Gard is a masterpiece in a network of aqueducts. Although you can explore the bridge at no charge, we do recommend visiting the museum, which does an excellent job in showing the network the bridge was part of and the Roman ingenuity in building it – Le Musée | Site du Pont du Gard
- There’s a food court on the premises, so you can also grab lunch while visiting.
Arles – Les Baux – Arles – 55 km – 450m / 100 km – 909 m
- We will ride by the Moulin de Daudet in Fontvieille. Daudet was a writer who collected folk stories of old Provence. His stories are known to all French children.
- The village of Les Baux provides magnificent views of the surrounding plain. Nearby Carrieres de Lumiere provide immersive sounds and light experience. Carrieres de Lumiere
- You can also enjoy lunch in the village of Les Baux
*Final routes may change
What’s included in the tour:
- 10 Nights of Hotel at 3-star establishments
- 10 Breakfasts, 3 group dinners and 2 transported picnic lunches
- 9 days of riding with local guides and support on most routes.
- Guided tour and GPS files for routes
- Route options for easier or more challenging rides
- Luggage transport on transfer days
- Mechanical support
- Museum passes in Arles
- Group language translation and optional lessons (private language lessons available at additional cost)
- Group excursions and wine tasting
- Nightly happy hour which includes wine and an overview of the following day’s ride options.
- Tandem bike case storage
What’s not included:
- Travel Insurance
- Airport transport arrival or departure
- Other meals or additional alcoholic beverages
Registration Dates, Payment Schedules, and Cancellation Fees
Sept 29 2023 – Dec 20 2023
If minimum number of riders is not met during this window, all deposits will be 100% refunded.
|$500 Deposit Per Couple
Dec 21 2023 – May 8 2024
This window will only open if the minimum number of riders is met during primary registration. This window will close when the maximum number of riders is reached.
|$500 Deposit Per Couple
|February 1 2024 – June 1 2024
|Remainder of trip due $6,500 per couple
|Sept 29 – November 30 2023
|100% of Deposit ($500 Per couple)
|Dec 1 2023 – Jan 31 2024
|50% of Deposit ($250 Per couple)
|Feb 1 2024 – March 1st
|75% of Trip ($2,625 Per rider)
|March 2 – May 8 2024
|50% of Trip ($1,750 Per rider)
|After May 8 2024
|0% of Trip
What to do in Arles
- The Roman influence is still visible in Arles.
- Arena – Amphitheater – still in use today
- Musée de l’Arles Antique – excellent dioramas and artefacts
- Cryptoportiques – the old market square is now underground.
- Alyscamps – burial grounds and mausoleums
- Theater or Thermes (Roman Baths)
- Musee Reattu – the artistic side of Arles
- Foundation Van Gogh more focused on contemporary Art with a few Van Gogh’s paintings.
What to do in Apt
- Maison du Parc du Luberon – excellent fossil collection and explanation of the geological history of the area,
- Cathedrale Sainte Anne – built during Louis XIV’s reign.
- Musée Municipal (fee) – local history with an emphasis on ocher extraction and fruit culture and processing
- Market on Saturday morning
- Fondation Blachere – a local family has established an art institute dedicated to the promotion of current African artists, now on Bonnieux train station along the bike path on the route for day 6.
What to do in Bedoin
- Vineyards of the Côtes du Rhône
- Lavender fields in the Pays de Sault
- Cycle to the top of Mont Ventoux or Gorges de la Nesque
- Ancient remains of Vaison-la-Romaine