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Cycling Through Lavender
Cyclomundo offers guided and self-guided cycling trips in Provence Self-guided trip: Starts any Sunday from June 18th through August 6th, 2017. Peak lavender season is in July.
5 nights/6 days
Daily mileage: From 37 km (23 miles) to 61 km (38 miles)
Trip starts from and ends in Forcalquier/Manosque
Level: 3 (Moderate)
From 695 euros per person sharing a double room
A minimum of 4 riders is required for this tour. Price for 2 riders upon request

Cycling Through Lavender — 5 nights/6 days

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On this cycling tour, you will ride through a magnificent part of Provence.
 
You will be riding along the Lake of Sainte-Croix
 
Village on the Lake
 
At times, it feels like you are riding through lavender
  Embrace the wonderful colors and perfumes of Provence’s favorite fragrant bloom on a tour through the region’s famed lavender fields. Our itinerary is a celebration of lavender in all its forms, whether cultivated by locals or growing wild in the fields, in soaps and oils or even in edible treats.

Located between the Alps and Provence, our Lavender Route highlights both regions. With an exceptional Mediterranean climate, it is very typical for the region to receive about 300 days of sun per year. The true draw of this region, however, is the unmistakable and calming aroma of endless lavender fields combined with pure Alpine-fresh mountain air — an invigorating fragrance for an active holiday with a relaxing feel.

Riding through contrasting landscapes, you’ll pass the Gorges of Verdon (France’s “Grand Canyon”), climb to the hilltop village of Valensole and its spectacular lavender-covered plateau, and meander through hills and valleys bordering the Luberon. You’ll visit places steeped in history and tradition, such as Moustiers-Sainte-Marie (famous for its Faïence pottery), the medieval citadel of Manosque, as well as the spa towns of Digne-les-Bains and Gréoux-les-Bains. (Bains, if you couldn’t tell, means “baths” — as in thermal baths!)

This is an extraordinary tour that’s best enjoyed by those who bike regularly. The terrain involves some hills and climbs, but the payoff is more than worth it. Once immersed in this charming landscape, you will have no difficulty understanding why Alain Ducasse and fellow prestigious chefs have found their culinary inspiration in this region. It’s hard not to be captivated by the variety of local produce and specialties: truffles, olive oil, honey, rosemary, thyme, and, of course, lavender.

A minimum of 4 riders is required for this tour. Prices for 2 riders or solo riders are available on request.

This trip is the only one that truly focuses on lavender. If you would like to do this trip with the daily assistance of a guide, you may consider doing our guide-supported version of the Cycling Through Lavender tour. We do have other bike trips that will take you through other lavender-growing areas... but you won't see (and smell) as much lavender. To view which tours do, just check out our blog.
 
Itinerary
Day 1 (Sunday): Arrival in Forcalquier or Manosque

The two closest towns to your first accommodation are Manosque and Forcalquier. To access either of these towns you can take a coach bus from the Marseille airport or the Aix-en-Provence TGV station. Trains to Manosque depart regularly from Marseille Saint Charles and Aix-en-Provence Centre.

Let us know if you will arrive in Manosque or Forcalquier, and we will pick you up and transfer you to your first accommodation. Your hotel is located less than two miles from the center of Forcalquier in a peaceful country setting. An early arrival allows you time to visit the L'Occitane factory in Manosque (guided visits in English need to be booked in advance). Before dinner in town, take some time to visit the citadel and its renowned open-air market, depending on your arrival day. Forcalquier is a charming introduction to the Provençal way of living — something you’ll get used to very quickly!
Day 2 (Monday): Forcalquier — Digne-les-Bains (61 km/38 miles, 915 meters/3,090 ft of climbing)

After breakfast, meet our local representative to go over your itinerary. You’re free to depart at the time of your choosing. You’ll start out at the foot of the Montagne de Lure, a perfect example of the rocky countryside of Upper Provence. As soon as you kick off, you’ll find yourself treated to superb views of Sainte-Victoire Mountain to the southwest, along with the Plateau de Valensole.

Leaving the wild nature behind, you’ll ride through the Durance River valley, where you’ll be exposed to the iconic “Pénitents des Mées.” These naturally occurring structures consist of a row of columnar rocks that stretch two kilometers across and 100 meters tall. Spend as much time as you’d like in the charming village of Les Mées nearby. When you hop back on your bike and cycle along the Bleone River, you’re a quick ride away from your accommodation, located two and a half kilometers outside of the peaceful town of Digne-les-Bains. If time allows, consider a visit to the thermal baths in Digne.
Day 3 (Tuesday): Digne-les-Bains — Moustiers-Sainte-Marie (52 km/33 miles, 970 meters/3,180 ft of climbing)

Prepare your legs for a gradual (but gentle!) 7.5% climb to the Plateau de Valensole. The so-called Lavender Plateau, or “Plateau des Lavandes”, is a picturesque and colorful terrain, especially in the summer when the lavender fields are in bloom. From this location you will be rewarded with a 280° view of Provence’s most famous mountains, such as the Sainte-Victoire, Sainte Baume, Mont Ventoux, Montagne de Lure and the Devoluy.

As you cycle down small roads, you’ll soon find yourself surrounded by magnificent lavender and sunflower fields. You’ll then ride through the Roman town of Riez before reaching Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, a hilltop village that’s world famous for its faïence, the distinctively hand-painted Provençal earthenware.
Day 4 (Wednesday): Rest Day in Moustiers-Sainte-Marie (Optional Loop: 61 km/38 miles, 3,020 meters/9,900 ft of climbing)

On this day you’ll have a chance to relax and enjoy the magic of Moustiers Sainte Marie. At an altitude of 630 meters (2,067 ft.), this medieval town sits at the base of two rocky cliffs. No matter which direction you look, the views are astounding! The so-called “capital of ceramics” has many workshops producing faïence, and nearly 30 shops highlighting local goods. You could spend your day exploring or shopping in town, or… if you prefer to stay on the seat of your bicycle, you may also use the day to ride a short loop.

Our optional loop includes the Gorges of Verdon and fabulous cliff views. The village of La Palud is the start of the “Route des Crêtes” (Crest Road) and it offers many can’t-miss lookout points. One of these viewpoints is an exceptionally beautiful stop among castle ruins at the foot of the Rougon village, which provides a fantastic panorama of “Point Sublime”.
Day 5 (Thursday): Moustiers-Sainte-Marie — Greoux-les-Bains (via Plateau de Valensole: 57 km/36 miles, 705 meters/2,315 ft of climbing; via main road: 38 km/24 miles, 285 meters/930 ft of climbing)*

Early on today’s route you will cycle up a short, one-mile steep climb (18%). Your efforts will be well rewarded with rides along the shores of vast Lac Sainte Croix. The typically calm waters will paint a beautiful backdrop for your leisurely ride. Proceed on minor roads through quaint villages, such as Allemagne-en-Provence with its 13th-century castle and beautiful fountain.

Let your nose be your guide along a 2-kilometer stretch of lavender fields to a local lavender distillery, Distillerie Angelvin, which you may visit at your leisure. Lavender isn’t the only treat on this leg; your easy ride takes you past a local goat cheese producer — it’s often open to visitors — before coasting down a long slope to the spa town of Gréoux-Les-Bains. “Comfort after effort” is the day’s motto! The ancient Roman town of Gréoux-Les-Bains is a popular destination for its mineral hot springs. Take some time to enjoy the thermal baths, renowned for their therapeutic and beneficial effects.

*Please note that the shorter option does not take you through the Valensole Plateau. From Allemagne-en-Provence, you’ll reach Greoux-les-Bains via the main road, on mostly flat terrain.
Day 6 (Friday): Transfer to Manosque and departure

After a leisurely breakfast, we will transfer you to Manosque. If you choose to take a train or bus later in the day, we suggest you take the opportunity to visit the medieval citadel of Manosque or the l’Occitane Factory, if you weren’t able to do so on your arrival day. Not only is Manosque a great place to grab lunch, but it was also home to Jean Giono, one of the greatest French writers of the 20th century. Be sure to visit the town’s citadel, which was an important inspiration for his work.
Booking & Pricing
From 695 euros per person sharing a double room. Single supplement is 320 euros
A minimum of 4 riders is required for this tour. Price for 2 riders on request.

 
This price includes:

  • 5 nights' accommodation (4 nights in 3-star hotels and 1 night in a charming guesthouse)
  • Daily breakfast
  • 2 dinners (drinks are not included)
  • Meeting with our local representative
  • Luggage transfers
  • Transfer from Manosque to Forcalquier (Day 1)
  • Transfer from Greoux-les-Bains to Manosque (Day 6)
  • Marked maps and/or cue sheets and route notes
  • Pre-loaded GPS unit (subject to availability)
  • Assistance if necessary (you will be provided with our local rep’s mobile number)
  • All tax and service charges

This price does not include:

  • Expenses of a personal nature
  • Travel insurance
  • Bicycle rentals. Hybrid bikes are available at the rate of 80 euros per bike. Full-carbon racing bikes are available upon request.

NB: We can book extra nights in Greoux-les-Bains or in Manosque (price on request). Starting this trip on any other day is possible for an additional charge of 45 euros per person.
For further information or reservations:
Please book online or contact us at your earliest convenience as this trip is subject to hotel availability.
Our e-mail address: info@cyclomundo.com
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