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Anyone tour Provence?

Old 09-27-18, 05:23 AM
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Anyone tour Provence?

My wife and I are planning a cycle trip to Provence, and I am hoping to get a tip or two from the members of this forum. The tour companies and their web sites all put a glossy shine on their offerings so it seems everything and anything is “perfect”.
Can anybody recommend a company, or a do/don’t tip, given that I am an avid cyclist but my wife prefers “pleasant” rides (she’s in shape and capable but doesn’t like the grind on her anatomy for more than 60 km).
Thanks for the help
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Old 09-27-18, 05:51 AM
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There is a Touring forum. You might want to ask the mods to move this thread there.
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Old 09-27-18, 04:18 PM
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My family and I used backroads to go to Tuscany in 2015 - there aren't that many companies that cater to families with children. Pricey but we got our money's worth.

They typically have 3 routes a day (at least on our family tour)... people just peel off when they're "done" for the day, so I usually went the full distance, my wife did 2 out of the 3 legs and my kids did 1. They have two vans, so they shuttled people to the hotel when they were done (although the kids had planned "activities" to keep them entertained). There's still a picture of the four of us on the tuscany family tour part of their site, pretty cool.

Anyway, that sort of "multi-route" option might be just the ticket for you and your wife. Or get her an e-bike so she can humiliate you on hills.
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Old 09-28-18, 07:19 AM
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Thread moved from General Cycling Discussion forum to Touring forum
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Old 09-28-18, 08:23 AM
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I've toured in Provence a few times, but always independently, not with a tour company. It's pretty easy to do on your own. Although I speak French, my sense is that it is much easier to get around speaking English than it used to be. There are lots of official tourist brochures and information at tourist sites in English, for example, and an ever-growing number of people in the region speak English. Tourism is big business there, and there is an acceptance and understanding that English has become the unofficial "world language".

A couple of things to know: Provence can get pretty hot. Therefore, spring and autumn are the best times. I would avoid July & August, not just because of the heat, but also the crowds. My last time there was during the 2nd half of May, and it was quite warm. Another thing to know, is that much of Provence is hilly and even mountainous. There are flat parts, but they are often less interesting than the hillier regions (with some exceptions). Here's a website with some suggested signposted routes in Provence:

Vélo Loisir Provence

My last trip there included the signposted route "Le Luberon à Vélo", which was extremely nice. I occasionally deviated a bit from the route to visit specific places such as nearby hill towns. The route is not flat, though the roads are typically well-graded. The eastern portion near Forcalquier climbs up a fair bit. The southern half of the Luberon route is more rural than the northern half, which has a lot more tourists. I also toured in areas west and north of the Luberon. For example around Arles, Nimes, & Avignon (all in the flatter parts of Provence), as well as to the north both in the Rhone valley around Orange, and east of there including the Gorge de la Nesque & Mont Ventoux.

I've toured around the French Riviera but that area has far too much traffic to be enjoyable, IMO.
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Old 09-28-18, 04:45 PM
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Wouldn't you solve your problem by getting a tandem for the 2 of you? Then you could lead and she could follow, peddling no more than her interest of 60kms, while you continued on.
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Old 09-29-18, 02:45 AM
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I have toured in western Provence but not with a company. I'd second the warning about avoiding July and August, if you are tied to the high season choose another region like Brittany. Check out CrazyGuyOnABike https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/?o=1my You can search the journals using the geographical filter to find suitable routes. I think your best option would be to travel light, possibly renting bikes locally and booking accommodation as you go using tourist offices or a phone app. If you aren't confident enough to organise it yourself by all means use a professional tour company but they are expensive.
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Old 09-29-18, 04:08 AM
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Thanks for the help

Thanks for the suggestions and advice. It has helped guide me to more useful trip ideas.
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Old 09-29-18, 07:31 AM
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good luck finding a suitable supported trip company, sorry I dont have any recommendations, but I can repeat the warnings of avoiding july and august. Ive car camped with French friends in the Luberon area in august, and it was just nuts how hot it was. A week of 40c, up to 43c at times, and just about unbearable to think of doing anything on a bike, we just laid around in the shade and did activites in the morning and evening.
Ditto for avoiding the crowds in august. All French people vacation in august, so sept oct is generally considered a much better idea for the south of France, especially by bike.
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Old 09-29-18, 07:31 AM
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Toured there a few times.

You dont need a tour company. Bicycle touriata there are so common they are highly catered to by hotels, taxis etc. Many hotels will gladly (for a fee) move your stuff to the next hotel. Or just hire a car

What about a pedal assisted ebike for your wife?

Originally Posted by Jno
Thanks for the suggestions and advice. It has helped guide me to more useful trip ideas.
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Old 09-29-18, 11:15 PM
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You may want to get a copy of Michelin Green Guide for Provence. Very very useful to plan an itinerary. And handy when you are on location.

I am not sure that an organized tour is best - Provence is an extremely diverse region with many places where you'll want to spend the day rather than see more asphalt. You could easily spend a couple of months and barely scratch the surface.

I would also think that unless you want to spend every moment with your companion, you can get up early in the morning to ride in the countryside (and bring back croissants).

WRT to weather... Yes it can get fairly hot, but it is usually dry and I don't recall ever being suffocated by the heat. You can always go to the north east (Alpilles) where the temperature tends to be cooler. Or sip pastis in a cafe, listening to the song of the cicadas.

If you travel there in August, you probably want to book accommodations in advance. And while there are tons of great listings on Airbnb, hosts have a tendency to take their time before replying. It is often a good idea to ask your host for a suggestion for the following evening.
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Old 10-01-18, 12:57 AM
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If you don't speak it already, learn some French, you'll need it. Also get yourself a French SIM card for your phone, makes life easier. If you decide to take the train, note that not all trains accept bikes, in particular some TGV services, so check beforehand.
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Old 10-02-18, 04:09 AM
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Thanks again

Lots of suggestions, all helpful. Thanks. I’m not sure I can persuade my wife that we should plan and execute the trip without a tour company, but I’ll use the entries posted here to try to persuade. Either way, it looks like a win for us.
Thanks again
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Old 10-02-18, 11:05 PM
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We did a Provence tour with French Cycling Holidays about 10 years ago; looks like they are still offering the same trip (we did the Villages of Luberon trip). It was well run with a mixture of cyclists levels and a SAG wagon for those who needed a lift. A ride up Mont Ventoux was available as an option. We had a nice experience with them. We went in May, so weather wasn't quite as extreme as that mentioned above.
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