The magic of Provence is truly best seen by bicycle. Our route takes us through landscapes captured by the impressionists and well-known vineyards, past Roman artifacts and through colorful villages. Along the way we’ll sample Provencal cuisine and complimentary wines grown on the hillsides of this special region of France. Peter Mayle’s books capture the essence of this region but you’ll know it even better as you pedal along small country roads through air infused with the aromas of Herbs de Provence and colorful flowers. Charming hotels will host us in Provencal style. Looking for a challenge? How about pedaling up the famous “Giant of Provence”, Mount Ventoux which often is featured during the Tour de France.
It’s “The Perfect Tour.” In it’s duality it has something for everyone: easy valley riding/challenging mountain climbs; great wines / good beer; nuova cucina Italian dinners/schnitzel and apple strudel; dramatic mountain scenery / art filled cities; Roman history / the Reformation; relics of WW I / modern facilities; Italian / German languages; easy access / all in seven days.
The North of France is known for incredible historic sites dating back to pre-Roman times. We’ll be amazed by the image of the Norman Conquest of 1066 as depicted in the famous Bayeux Tapestry. Biking from museum to memorial and along the beaches, we’ll commemorate the place where Allied troops first landed some seventy years ago on D-day, June 7, 1944. Along our route in Normandy we’ll enjoy the luxury of chateaux hotels and indulge in the dairy products from local farms along with apple cider and calvados brandy. Seafood from the North Atlantic and English Channel as well as oysters from the charming fishing village of Cancale will fuel our pedaling – not to mention crepes of many flavors. Not to be missed is the dramatic Gothic abbey, Mont Saint-Michel, the second most visited site in France. We’ll explore the medieval “City of the Corsairs,” St-Malo, and the coast line of Le Manche, the English Channel, with it’s enormous tides. From time to time we’ll use the van to skip a few kilometers of pedaling to ensure that we have time to see all the highlights. To see everything in these two regions might surely take a lifetime.
The Loire Valley is our home base and we are taking you there to reveal a very special location, which we have enjoyed for many years, the village of Luynes. Located just a few kilometers west of Tours and one hour from Paris by TGV high-speed train this medieval village has much to offer. In the village center are16th Century houses and just a short distance away a Roman aqueduct. Overlooking the village is the chateau of the Duke of Luynes. The Loire Valley countryside is lush with forests, fields of sunflowers awaiting harvest, extensive gardens and vineyards yielding numerous varieties of tasty wines. We will pedal village to village through fields and orchards in this, the “Garden of France.” We also will visit many of the best known of the magnificent chateaux located just nearby in the ”Valley of the Kings”. Finally, Luynes boasts a new boutique hotel and fantastic restaurant already given note by Michelin’s cuisine experts. Developed by the Pascal family, also our hosts while in Luynes, this recently opened relais is centrally located in the historic village. While modern in facilities and presentation, at the same time it preserves many of the buildings period features. Since we first organized our initial bike tour here in the Loire many of the roads on which we then pedaled have become part of the extensive “La Loire a Velo” bike route which now stretches from the Atlantic coast eastward to Orleans and beyond.
The real France can still be found in this southwestern region defined by the Dordogne and Lot River Valleys. Known for it’s picturesque fortified villages, remnants of the Hundred Years War, the region is home to such gastronomic delicacies as foie gras , confit du canard and pommes Sarladaise . And yet, even with these fat laden offerings this region has the lowest incidence of heart health problems of any region of France. How can that be? Enter the French Paradox resulting from the Malbec based wines of Cahors which serve to counteract the effects of the heavy local diet. Highlighting our visit are the cave paintings left by our Cro Magnon ancestors. As in our more recent tours, we will stay at the very best hotels of the region all members of the Relais & Chateaux Collection where we can relax in style after pedaling the hills and valleys. We’ll have time to visit the well known market town of Sarlat and an optional visit to Bordeaux after our tour’s conclusion.