Biking in Provence has been on our bucket list for a while, and we finally checked it off last month. Mike and I spent a glorious week bicycling in the hills, farm land, and charming villages of Provence. We started our trip in Avignon and ended in Aigues Mortes. If you look at these two towns on a map, they don’t appear to be that far apart, but by weaving in out of towns and country roads, we cycled about 150 miles. Our trip was a bike and boat trip meaning that we stayed on a barge/turned passenger boat at night and met it in a new town each evening after a day of cycling and exploring. The boat we were on was the L’estello which has 10 cabins, each with a private bath. There were 20 people in the group, and we, along with a nice couple from Illinois, were the only Americans. The other countries represented were Australia, Germany, Switzeland, and Canada.
Mike and I went a day early and explored Avignon. Do you remember hearing the French song about the bridge in Avignon? I learned it in my high school French class. This is the famous and historic bridge. It’s real name is Pot du Gard, and it no longer goes all the way across the river.
Biking in Provence gave us just one day of bad weather, and that was the first day. It was soooo very cold and poured the rain, and so our guide shortened our cycling trip that day. I was so cold when we arrived at the boat that my bones ached. Thankfully, we had beautiful weather the rest of the week.
We were in Saint Remy on market day which was really fun and colorful. There were tons and tons of people, and it wasn’t even really tourist season yet. I can’t imagine what it is like in August.
The vendors go from town to town, so each day a different village has market day.
Quiet Village Life
Saint Remy was so quaint and charming, and we spent a morning there just wandering around the streets. Then we tackled our only big climb of the trip and rode our bicycles up a mountain for about five miles.
There we saw one of the best things I have EVER seen. It is called Carrieres de Lumieres, and it is located in Les Baux, Provence. It was an art show in an former rock quarry. I know it sounds crazy, and it is really hard to explain. This photo does not do it justice. It is loud and colorful and cold and constantly moving. The photos that are projected onto the wall are moving and constantly changing. When the local quarry had no more limestone to be used, people built an underground audio visual art gallery inside, but it isn’t actual art. Famous art along with contemporary art is projected onto the walls of the quarry, and music plays in the background to accompany the art. It was hard to take photos in there because it was so dark. Mike and I had our picnic lunches, and we sat on some stone and watched the show. Each year they feature a different artist, and this year they were highlighting the works of Picasso. Go to this website to see the highlights and to get a better idea of what it was like. But I am telling you, it was one of the best man-made things I have ever seen.
On another morning we cycled to Arles and spent time walking and visiting the sites of many Van Gogh paintings.
This is the corner cafe where he painted “Starry Nights.” Those buildings in the background weren’t there when this was done.
This quiet garden tucked away in an alley is the site of another famous painting.
A local guide gave us a small tour of the city and included its history. Then we walked around for a while and had a great lunch.
Biking in Provence is a Must-Do
When we were near Aigues Mortes which was our final destination, we realized that we had cycled in that area before when we rode from the top to the bottom of France a few years ago. It was one of those grueling trips we take where we cycle 60 to 80 miles a day. We really didn’t have time to “stop and smell the roses.”
If you have ever thought about biking in Provence, I say go for it. On these bike and boat trips, we average around 30 to 40 miles of cycling a day so there’s a lot more time to enjoy life. There are so many more photos I could show you, but I don’t want to bore you too much, so that’s it for Provence.
Thank you for reading our blog and spending time with us today.