Provence tips & advice

Harvey Downard from our specialists Cycling for Softies:

Cycling terrain

“Generally I would say Provence cycling is flatter and easier than most people expect. We have tours that take in the Rhone valley and Camargue natural park where the biggest hill might be a little bridge over a canal! Then there’s the wide Luberon valley, sitting at the foot of the Alpilles mountains, with a great cycle path running straight down the middle. That said, the first thing that comes to mind when a lot of people think of Provence is picturesque hilltop villages and we do visit a few of these on our tours (Gordes and Roussillon for example) and that does involve a few longer climbs but mostly at a fairly moderate gradient. Most people tend to agree that reaching these hilltop towns is a highlight of their trip, despite sweating a little bit to reach them!”

“We make sure that the distance of any hilly cycling days is shortened, so that they are still rideable for almost anybody. We also encourage guests to think about using an e-bike if they have concerns about the challenge and can help with customised routes for those looking to take it easier or even challenge themselves a little bit more. We always try to design routes that take guests the most bike friendly way between destinations. In Provence this involves a mix of small roads and cycle-paths where appropriate.”
Harvey Downard from our specialists Cycling for Softies:

When to go

“We run our tours from 1st April to mid-October. The weather is generally pretty good throughout these months, but evenings and mornings are pretty chilly at either end of that window. In winter it’s not uncommon for there to be a bit of snow and some frosty temperatures, so we don’t advise cycling then! The wind in the area can be quite strong, but it tends to settle in the height of summer and our tours are actually in regions that tend to be a little bit sheltered from it anyway.”

“My favourite month to visit is May – the temperature is just right for cycling and visitor numbers are much lower than in the peak summer months, which gives you such an authentic experience of Provencal life.”

Responsible tourism

“Provence is home to such a vast number of small producers of products such as wine, soap and olive oil, which alongside the tourism industry are of great economic importance. We encourage our guests to shop local whenever possible and to visit some of these small businesses that they pass on their cycling routes. Some tourists can actually get a bit carried away when visiting the lavender fields and do some damage to the crop when taking photos etc, so we do make sure guests are careful about this.”

Provence cycling highlights

“My personal highlights include riding to Baux-de-Provence, a medieval citadel perched on top of a hill overlooking the Rhone valley. It’s a bit of a climb to get up there, but you are rewarded with great views and a fantastic twisting descent back to St-Remy-de-Provence. There’s a really cool art gallery there too, which is set in an old quarry, where they project artworks onto the huge, flat walls.We have a route that takes you to the tiny village of Eygalieres, where I love stopping for a long, lazy lunch in the most typical and unspoilt Provencal setting.”
Benoit from the Frog’s House:

Why head inland

"As far as we're concerned the most notable impacts of tourism in Provence are the sheer number of planes landing in Nice and Marseille, and the increase in traffic during July and August. The Cote d'Azur is only a very small part of Provence, and the French Riviera probably overrated when it comes to beaches. But just 15km inland from the coast you've got all these amazing small villages and countryside that so many vacationmakers miss. On the Riviera it's too busy in terms of people and traffic, and expensive. Inland offers so much beauty and quietness."

When to go

"I recommend visiting the Cote d’Azur in June, because of the long days (especially long evenings with daylight until 10pm), sunny but not too warm days, and not yet the big rush of July and August"

Our top Provence Vacation

French Riviera vacation, walking, culture & cooking option

French Riviera vacation, walking, culture & cooking option

Experience real French culture while relaxing mindfully...

From 450 to1080 4 days ex flights
Tailor made:
This trip runs every week (April- Nov) with a set itinerary but the length of stay & arrival date can be adjusted to your needs
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Provence or need help finding a vacation to suit you we're very happy to help.

Tips from our travelers

At Responsible Travel, we think the best people to advise our travelers are often... other travelers. They always return from our tours with packing tips, weather reports, ideas about what to do – and opinions about what not to.

We have selected some of the most useful Provence travel advice that our guests have provided over the years to help you make the very most of your vacation – and the space inside your suitcase.
Be aware that at some points you may feel it best to dismount and walk the bike for short distances here and there
– Melissa Ferrari
“It was a truly wonderful experience, I would highly recommend vacationing at The Frogs’ House. Although we were busy every moment (by choice, the schedule can be as relaxed or as busy as you would like it to be) I came back from my time in St. Jeannet completely relaxed and well rested. I can't wait to go back.” – Deborah Beane stayed in St Jeannet to visit the French Riviera

“Every day was whatever we wanted it to be, because we had the freedom to bike quickly to our next destination, or stop and gaze at every landscape or building or ANYTHING we felt like doing! We discovered something new every day. If you book it for the time frame we did (mid-May) beware the mistral winds! They are more fierce at this time, as we discovered very quickly. It did not negatively affect our experience because we are athletic and love a challenge, but we can appreciate how some people with lesser endurance would find it difficult. If you're not, just be aware that at some points you may feel it best to dismount and walk the bike for short distances here and there. And bring a jacket because wind makes any beautiful weather seem more chilly!” – Melissa Ferrari on a self-guided cycling vacation in Provence
Written by Rob Perkins
Photo credits: [Page banner: Andrew Lawson] [Cycling terrain: AD 04] [When to go: AD 04] [Why head inland: Mike McBey] [Melissa Ferrari quote: AD 04]
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