Bicycle Tours in France: Bicycling Paris to Lyon Plus! Marseille
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Experience the fairytale landscapes of France's beautiful forests and countryside on a journey from Parisian Île de France to the exciting multicultural Mediterranean port city of Marseille. A route steeped in history, this tour takes cyclists through the Loire River valley with stops at Roman ruins and Renaissance châteaux - including the breathtaking Palace and Park of Fontainbleau. Much of our tour traces the route of Annie Londonderry who, in 1895, became the first woman to bicycle around the world solo-on her 42-pound Columbia bicycle! After a stop in beautiful Lyon, renowned for its authentic French cuisine and its perennial appearance as a stage city in the Tour de France™, we'll continue through the famed Côte du Rhône wine region, cycle past legendary Mont Ventoux, and wind through the pastoral Provençal region of southern France.
If this sounds great but you don't have time for the full 12 days, check out our Bicycling Paris to Lyon tour, which features the first nights of this itinerary.
ADDITION RATE INFORMATION
Single Supplement*: $650.00
*We are happy to match solo travelers who would like to share a room with someone of the same gender. If no match exists, due to hotel pricing, we will charge 50% of the single supplement rate. This fee will be collected at the time of the final payment. If a roommate assignment is available this fee will be refunded at the conclusion of the tour.
Day 1: Highlights: Paris, Fit BicyclesParis, Ile-de-France, France
Meet this afternoon in Lieusaint on the outskirts of Paris. We fit bicycles this afternoon and go out for a warm-up ride. Dinner is together tonight. Distance: optional warm-up ride.
Day 2: Highlights: Melun, Vaux-Le-Vicomte CastleBarbizon, Ile-de-France, France
We'll pedal today, just as Annie did, from Lieusaint, south towards Melun and then east to our final destination, Barbizon, a charming village nestled in the Fontainebleau forest. Our route takes us by the famous castle Vaux-le-Vicomte, built for Louis XIV's finance minister Fouquet who, after becoming too powerful, was wrongly imprisoned for treason and embezzlement. If you like, stop in for a tour of this luxurious castle in the classical style and its magnificent gardens. Dinner is together this evening. Distance: 53 km (33 miles) or more if desired.
Day 3: Highlights: Guided Visit Of FontainebleauMontargis, Centre, France
New Years' eve 1894, Annie pedalled from Nemours to Montargis by way of Souppes-sur-Loing. The route she most likely would have followed is a major highway now, so we'll follow her presumed route, or at least approximate it, on parallel roads. We'll start the day early for those who wish to visit the illustrious Renaissance châteaux of Fontainebleau. Napoléon (of course!) slept here, and may have even resided here for a while. The château of Fontainebleau rivals the palace in Versailles and the châteaux of the Loire Valley in its magnificence. It sits in the middle of a 40,000-acre forest and gardens. Distance: 74 km (46 miles).
Day 4: Highlights: Pont-Canal In BriarePouilly-sur-Loire, Burgundy, France
Annie rang in the New Year with a long ride on her single speed bike. She pedaled, as will we, from Montargis to Cosne-sur-Loire. Annie would have picked up the Loire River valley today and followed it for the next several days, avoiding the adjacent short but steep climbs. She spent the night in a private home in Cosne-sur-Loire. We'll pedal across the famous Briare canal bridge this afternoon, Europe's longest junction canal. Dinner is together. Distance: 110 km (68 miles).
Day 5: Highlights: Loire River ValleyNevers, Burgundy, France
We continue up the Loire River Valley today to Charité-sur-Loire and on to Nevers. Annie would have followed the river most of the way today, so we'll do the same with a beautifully forested ride through the foothills of the Morvan. Annie rode only to Charité today (about 28 km from Cosne) so you might want to stop for photos and then plan on time to take a walk in Nevers this evening. We'll enjoy dinner together this evening. Distance: 70 km (43 miles).
Day 6: Highlights: Lyon, Bouchon Lyonnais, Vieux LyonLyon, Rhone-Alpes, France
It is 230 km from Nevers to Lyon, Annie's next stop. In 1895, the local head of the Union Vélocipédique du France, Mr. Nicart, persuaded Annie to take the train to Lyon "because of the deplorable state of the routes." She heeded his advice and spent two days resting in Lyon. Stage 6 of the 2003 Tour de France™ pedaled from Nevers to Lyon. While we're not going to try and pedal the entire distance, we will take a ride this morning and then catch the train into Lyon like Annie did. We'll regroup this evening for dinner together at one of Lyon's many delicious restaurants. Distance: 58 km (36 miles).
Day 7: Highlights: Lyon's Monuments, Museums, ArchitectureLyon, Rhone-Alpes, France
After a fascinating guided tour of Vieux Lyon you'll have the entire day to relax and enjoy this wonderful city. The historic old town stretches out along a peninsula between the Rhône and Saône rivers, and is filled with beautiful monuments, museums, and buildings. Be sure to take the tramway to the top of the city heights where you'll have a magnificent view over the roof tops of the entire city. You are free to enjoy a "bouchon" restaurant on your own this evening.
Day 8: Highlights: Côtes Du Rhône VineyardsMont Ventoux, Provence, France
We'll take a train out of Lyon this morning to Orange, where you'll pedal through some of France's most famous vineyards to the base of Mont Ventoux - a perfect position if you'd like to challenge yourself with a ride to the top tomorrow! You'll enjoy a delicious home-cooked dinner at our hotel this evening. Distance: about 50 km (about 31 miles).
Day 9: Highlights: Mont Ventoux, Wine Villages, Roman And Medieval HistoryMont Ventoux, Provence, France
Take your choice today between relaxing by the hotel pool and getting a massage, to climbing the legendary Mont Ventoux. For those who prefer something in between, we'll mark a stunning ride through Roman and medieval villages. Enjoy dinner together tonight. Distance: 0-65 km (0-40 miles).
Day 10: Highlights: Bonnieux, LourmarinLourmarin, Provence, France
We'll head south to the Luberon Valley, made famous by Peter Mayle's A Year in Provence. Pedal through ochre-colored Roussillon, and the perched village of Bonnieux on your way to our luxurious farm house just outside of Lourmarin. You can relax by the pool or stroll through the vast hotel grounds and herb garden this afternoon before dinner together. Distance: 80 km (50 miles).
Day 11: Highlights: MarseilleMarseille, Provence, France
Today we'll take on the last stage of Annie's journey all the way to her triumphant arrival in Marseille. Although Annie took the most direct route into the city, we've planned for a much more scenic approach to the base of the Chaine de l'Etoile mountains that serve as a magnificent backdrop for Marseille set against the sea. Our ride ends with a picnic lunch just outside Aix-en-Provence. After lunch we'll shuttle to our hotel in the heart of Marseille where you can spend the rest of the afternoon discovering the city. We'll have our final dinner together tonight in a great restaurant, a local favorite. Distance: 53 km (33 miles).
Day 12: Highlights: Marseille, Shuttle To The AirportMarseille, Provence, France
Our journey ends this morning after breakfast. For those of you who would like to spend more time visiting this unique city, we'll suggest some highlights. We'll also help facilitate your departure from the train station and airport. It was a pleasure having you join us on this ride into history. Come back again, sometime, as we pedal into the past!
Total Distance: 620 km (385 miles)
Daily Distance: 50 - 110 km (31 - 62 miles)
What to Expect: Charming towns, fabulous terrain for cycling, UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Some long days and varied terrain as we cut across four quite different regions of France.
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