Discover the natural wonders of La Provence on this adventure into the Cotes du Rhone winelands. From ancient villages scattered with Roman ruins to historic cities, there are plenty of interesting places to stop and soak up Provencal history. And in between stops? Wonderful cycling through vineyards, along river trails and into the beautiful valleys of the Dentelles de Montmirail mountains. And then there's the wine..
Day 1 | Arrive in Mazan
Transfer by minibus, taxi or train to our base hotel in Mazan where you can enjoy a tipple from the hotels well stocked cellar by the side of the pool to get you into holiday mode.
Day 2 | Round Tour to Pernes les Fontaines
After breakfast youll be equipped with your bicycle. The day is then yours to explore Mazan, a pretty little town of narrow streets, ancient houses, churches and fountains pitched against a backdrop of lush green valleys. From here we suggest a round trip to Carpentras, a pleasant town rich with history, from fortress ruins to classic Provenal facades. The markets here are lovely to potter around too. Pernes les Fontaines is also nearby, where you can peruse no less than forty ancient fountains along the fountain trail.
Day 3 | Mazan to Chateauneuf-du-Pape
Time to get into the saddle and travel to your next stop, on a gently undulating ride through cornfields and vineyards. Along the way, youll chance upon Loriol du Comtat, a quaint village in the heart of the winelands complete with chteaux and a beautiful Romanesque church. The village of Courthzon is also on route, a tranquil waterside dwelling with the Seille River flowing through it, and the river Ouvze River at its border. A great place to stop for lunch and a wander through historic architecture, fountains trickling all around you.
Day 4 | Round Tour to Avignon or Orange
Whilst the abundance of tasting venues on offer in Chateauneuf-du-Pape is a great temptation, we advise that today you set out on your bikes to visit one of the regions historical hot-spots. The city of Avignon was once the home of the papacy and is home to the papal palace, a staggering statement of the churches power in the middle ages. Further north along the Rhone river is Orange, a small city that was once a regional capital. It is home to a vast Roman theatre and a host of excellent museums. The wines will still be there waiting at the end of your ride.
Day 5 | Chteauneuf-du-Pape to Gigondas
Today you'll journey into the heart of the Ctes du Rhne along tiny lanes that wend their way through vineyards towards Gigondas, lying at the base of the spectacular Dentelles de Montmirail mountain range. Popular with rock climbers and hikers, this impressive mountain is finely chiselled by erosion, so that from far away it resembles a majestic piece of stone lacework. There is a distinctly Mediterranean feel here, with aromatic plants and Aleppo pines softening the entire landscape and, of course, vines galore. The village of Courthzon and Gigondas are interesting spots to stop en route, either for lunch or to stretch the legs with a short stroll around their medieval streets.
Day 6 | Round Tour to Vaison-la-Romaine
One of the loveliest little villages in the Ctes du Rhne, Gigondas is a must-see for wine lovers, producing some of the regions finest wines, robust and powerful in flavour. Lined with stone houses, its pretty streets lead to a beautiful church, with panoramic views along the way. From Gigondas you can also enjoy a ride to Vaison la Romaine, the jewel of Roman Provence. Surrounded by the Ouvze River, this fascinating city is a contrast of modern life and ancient Roman ruins.
Day 7 | Gigondas to Mazan
Today's ride skirts the Dentelles de Montmirail, passing two gems of the region, Gigondas and Beaumes de Venise. The village of Gigondas is another example of the region's history, with an elegant Provencal bell tower, age-worn doors and windows overflowing with flowers. If you like it here, stop long enough to visit the botanical gardens and sample one of its vintage Ctes du Rhne exports. Beaumes de Venise is a little further along the wine trail, and renowned for its excellent fortified sweet wine made from the Muscat grape. Situated at the foot of the Plateau des Courens, the village owes its name to the abundance of caves (or baunes) that dapple the hill. Stroll its flower-lined alleyways towards chateau ruins, venture into prehistoric caves, and yet another chance to sample the regions amazing wines and gourmet fare before heading back to Mazan for your final night.
We say au revoir before transferring you directly from Mazan to Avignon or Marseille by private taxi.