Tag Archives: Pont du Gard

Provence Cycling Tours Trip Report, Episode 149


provence cycling tours Jim and Ilona

Ever wonder what it’s like setting off to see France on a bicycle? I have wondered many times myself because I admire people who take Provence Cycling Tours or cycling tours anywhere in France for that matter!

Ilona and Jim Kucharczyk love active vacations and they’ve ridden in the Bourgogne area, the Loire Valley, Provence and are planning on an upcoming tour of the Bordeaux area. They come on the show to share tips and tricks for those who are thinking about doing the same thing and could use a little bit of forewarning about what lies ahead.

Places Mentioned in this Episode: Avignon, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Lisle-sur-la-Sorgue, Gordes, Roussillon, Les Baux-de-Provence, Arles, Uzès, Pont-du-Gard

Would you like to tour France with Annie and Elyse? Visit Addicted to France to choose an upcoming tour.

Provence Cycling Tours Trip Report, Episode 149 

Episode Highlights with Timestamps

  • [55″] Thank you new Patreon Supporters Lauren Wetterhahn and Alexander Schraff. Thank you also  Lorin Sandoval and Wayne Fella for Tipping Your Guide via PayPal!
  • [1’44] Submit praise for the podcast to annie@joinusinfrance.com with subject line Praise. I need your words, your city and state as well as a photo that shows your face.
  • [2’49] The Inaugural Paris Tour is coming up very fast, I am very excited about it. I am also excited about the upcoming South West Tour. To check out our Tours, go to Addicted to France, our sister site.
  • [3’27] Podcasting News from Edison Research. If you want to help someone listen to a podcast, read this.
  • [5’06] Visiting the Grotte de Niaux, la Rivière Souterraine de Labouiche and Carcassonne.
  • [6’01] It’s great to see how many of you talk about visiting the South West of France on our Facebook Closed Group.
  • [6’37] You can connect with me by emailing annie@joinusinfrance.com or call to leave a voice mail: (801) 806-1015. This is a US number that we only use as a voice mailbox and a great place for you to leave your questions or comments about the show.
  • [7’47] Cycling trip around Provence in October 2016. Ilona and Jim are not Spring Chickens, they’ve been married for 35 years, and they took up cycling 4 years ago.
  • [9’26] They do have a fair bit of training, but they worked up to 70 or 80 miles per day slowly.
  • [10’31] In France cycling is huge, there are cyclist all over, especially in rural France. Marion Clignet was on Episode 52.
  • [12’28] Why did they choose Provence? Comparing the level of difficulty between different regions of France.
  • [14’43] Choosing bigger roads to go longer distances. Doing day-trips from a central location instead of a circular route. The issue of luggage.
  • [16’52] What’s a great central location in Provence and renting bicycles from L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue.
  • [18’18] What happens if you run into a problem like a flat tire or a mechanical problem?
  • [20’20] Did you consider joining a group of cyclists? No, because we love the planning process. More freedom if you ride alone.
  • [21’40] Vélo Loisir Provence Association
  • [24’40] Are French drivers considerate to cyclists?
  • [26′] What GPS did you use? Garmin and Ride with GPS, some D roads are busy, especially around Avignon
  • [27′] French roads classification: A for Autoroute (freeways), N for National, D for Départementale. Have you used Google Maps’ cycling option? Ride with GPS is better because it’s more of a community where real people share experiences of cycling.
  • [28’31] How often did you get lost? Letting Garmin select dirt roads as an option.
  • [31′] Getting lost is par for the course when riding or hiking.
  • [31’51] Provence cycling tours day by day itinerary
  • [32′] Fly into Paris CDG, RER train into the city of Paris, then the TGV to Avignon, then a bus to Saint-Rémy de Provence.
  • [32’40] The first leg of cycling was north through Avignon, with Chateauneuf-du-Pape as their destination for the day. That was a lovely ride with lots of vineyards, small roads, beautiful views onto the Rhone Valley.
  • [35′] How did you plan your lunch stops?
  • [36′] Stop at the restaurant Le Pistou in Châteauneuf-du-Pape
  • [37′] Long riding day on Saturday at Lisle-sur-la-Sorgue, Gordes, and Roussillon, which was challenging as far as elevation is concerned.
  • [39’47] Running out of daylight and trying to pack too much into one day because it means there isn’t enough time spent at each location.
  • [40’26] Planning overnight stays in a few select places so there’s enough time to see it. 75 or 75 miles is too far for an out and back.
  • [41’55] Les Baux-de-Provence, mistral wind and needing to walk.
  • [43’48] Riding to Arles. Valley roads and river roads tend to be flat (unless it’s a gorge!)
  • [45’11] Stumbling upon random Roman ruins because you’re cycling. Walking and cycling are probably the best way to see France.
  • [46’15] Giving up on cycling for one day because of the wind and weather.
  • [46’44] Bus driver refusing to back her bus up a few inches to open the bay on the cargo bus so they could take their bikes on.
  • [47’40] Learning French
  • [49’14] Uzès and the Pont-du-Gard
  • [50’20] Planning another trip around Bordeaux: stay in Bordeaux and doing over-nights in Médoc, Saint-Julien or Saint-Estèphe, Saint-Emilion, cycling association in Bordeaux called Les Dérailleurs.
  • [53] Paris for a few days where they took a walking tour and a dinner cruise, picnic at the Tuilleries.
  • [54’09] General tips for people who want to go on provence cycling tours. Try things so you can have realistic expectations, but don’t be afraid to try. Plan out where you are going to eat and bring snacks.
  • [56′] In rural areas you have to bring food and water because stores close and keep strange hours.
  • [59′] Balancing pleasure with sports, taking your time to see things and yet not stop all the time to take photos!
  • [61′] Bring battery backup power and put your phone in airplane mode when not using it. Little battery packs are vital if you’re going to be away from your hotel all day. Sometimes you can plug-in at the restaurant.
  • [64′] Signup for a France data plan with your provider. Buying a local SIM card is not worth it any more.
  • [63′] France is so gorgeous that you could take a cycling vacation every year for the rest of your life and not see it all!

Conclusion

Cycling vacations will keep you strong and healthy and will give you good reasons to enjoy dessert and a bottle of wine at night. And Provence is gorgeous. Who could ask for anything more?

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Visiting Southern France in Winter, Episode 148

My guest today is Christine Hegerty from Australia, and she joins me today to talk about visiting Southern France in winter. They started their trip in Nice and exited the country via the Basque Country, so they really went all the way across.

What is it like in France in the winter? Are the weather conditions good enough for touring? Aren’t most attractions closed? Christine answers all my questions and brings a lot of zest and astute observations about visiting southern France in winter.

Places Mentioned in this Episode: Nice, Toulouse, Aix-en-Provence, Marseille, Nîmes, Pont du Gard, Uzès, Montpellier, Carcassonne, Mirepoix, Forges de Pyrène, Grotte de Niaux, Foix, Camon (09), Rennes-le-Château, Carla-Bayle, Grotte du Mas d’Asil, Toulouse,  Albi and the Toulouse-Lautrec Museum, Cordes-sur-Ciel, Moissac, Bordeaux, San-Sebastian, New Caledonia.

Would you like to tour France with Annie and Elyse? Visit Addicted to France to choose an upcoming tour.

Visiting France in winter, Christine and husband

Visiting Southern France in Winter, Episode 148

Episode Highlights with Timestamps

  • [7’15] Why did you choose to come to France in the winter?
  • [8’50] What sort of weather did you encounter?
  • [10’30] Flying into Nice instead of Paris
  • [12’30] Finding accommodations where we could park a car + using a car elevator in Toulouse
  • [15′] A lovely cooking class in Nice
  • [22′] Panisse and Socca, food specialties from Nice
  • [23′] Aix-en-Provence and Marseille by Regional Bus
  • [24′] Cours Mirabeau, Les Deux Garçons, and the Christmas Market in Aix-en-Provence
  • [24’45] A day in Marseille: Musée d’Histoire de Marseille, great street for restaurants, rue Sainte, lunch at Les Echevins (best steak ever says John!),
  • [28’30] Walking tour with a volunteer greeter, meeting on Quai des Belges in Marseille, a look at the Mirror Pavilion by Foster
  • [30′] Musée Archéologique de Marseille in Le Panier
  • [31’45] Marseille City Greeters
  • [33’06] Lovely Tea House called Cup of Tea, tea shop and book shop
  • [34′] Great food in Marseille, and not just Bouillabaisse!
  • [35′] The realities of planing a trip from home vs. taking the trip: cutting things out
  • [36′] Worries about leaving luggage in the car and Annie’s recommendation about that
  • [37’48] Two nights in Nîmes and what they loved about it: les Arênes de Nîme, la Maison Carrée
  • [39′] Carré d’Art by Norman Foster in Nîmes, a great place for photography, among other things
  • [40′] Stumbling Upon a light show projected on the Maison Carrée in Nîmes. This happens a lot around Christmas, not just in Nîmes, but in other French cities too.
  • [42′] Around Christmas is busy for people, but tourist attractions are empty.
  • [43′] Pont du Gard and getting lost looking for it. Don’t set your GPS to the village called Vers-Pont-du-Gard. Set your GPS to either the attraction called Pont du Gard OR the village of Remoulins or Collias.
  • [46′] Lunch at Uzès on Place  Aux Herbes, great place to spend a couple of hours.
  • [47′] Tour Magne, Le Jardin de la Fontaine, le Temple de Diane in Nîmes
  • [48′] Montpellier, a large and charming city. Air B&B apartment that used to be a butcher’s shop for one night.
  • [50′] Musée du Vieux Montpellier, running into churches with Crêches and Santons, and
  • [50’30] More podcast listeners eating at L’Entrecôte, they should sponsor the show!
  • [52′] What’s nearby? Sète, Camargue
  • [53’30] Daylight hours are shorter in winter, fewer hours for touring.
  • [53’47] Christmas in Carcassonne, lunch at the Michelin Star at the Hôtel de la Cité, La Barbacane.
  • [57’39] Carcassonne is not busy and crowded in the winter, and certainly not on Christmas Day!
  • [58’33] The Christmas Market in Carcassonne.
  • [62′] Staying in Mirepoix for one week.
  • [65′] New Year’s Even in Mirepoix, le Réveillon de la Saint-Sylvestre with a group of all-French people who didn’t speak English! <–Funny
  • [68′] Typical New Year’s Eve celebrations in France
  • [72′] Attractions near Mirepoix: Montsegur (Cathat, hike), Les Forges de Pyrène (demonstrations of old techniques), Grotte de Niaux (painted caves), Foix (hike).
  • [78′] Most Beautiful Villages in France: Camon. Beautiful but completely empty this time of year. This is an obvious problem with visiting southern France in winter: many things are closed!
  • [80′] The Arriège is a part of France that doesn’t get a lot of tourists any time of the year, and in the middle of the winter, you have to find ways to keep busy.
  • [81′] Market Day in Mirepoix is Monday, the town comes to life. Visiting Rennes-le-Château, must read-up on the conspiracy theories. Pack a picnic!
  • [83′] Even in a remote part of France that is not very touristy, the food is quite good.
  • [84′] Visiting Carla-Bayle and the Grotte du Mas d’Asil on the way to Toulouse. Don’t go in the middle of the winter, it’s empty!
  • [86′] Toulouse is like a small little Paris, a lot of life, even in the middle of the winter.
  • [88′] Going to Albi and the Toulouse-Lautrec Museum, Cordes-sur-Ciel (Cordes is also dead in the winter!)
  • [89′] Museums in Toulouse: Natural History Museum, Musée Saint-Raymond, Basilique Saint-Sernin, Musée des Augustins, Musée des Abatoirs, Les Jacobins where Saint-Thomas Aquinas is buried.
  • [91′] Which Toulouse Cloister is nicest: Jacobins or Augustins?
  • [93′] General observation about French Museums: they are well curated.
  • [94′] Go to the big open-air food market in Toulouse (Marché du Cristal, 33 boulevard de Strasbourg), every morning.
  • [97′] WizEat in Toulouse and the Toulouse accent.
  • [100′] Stop in Moissac to visit the chruch with beautiful cloister–but the cloister was closed on a Saturday morning (again, an issue with visiting southern France in winter).
  • [102′] Bordeaux: swapping the red stone of Toulouse for the white stone of Bordeaux.
  • [104′] The shopping areas were busy in Bordeaux (probably due to sales coming up, people like to “stake-out” the stores where they want to go back on the day when sales start.
  • [104’30] Attractions in Bordeaux: Saint-André Cathedral, Flea Market near the Saint-Michel Church, Marché des Capucins (covered market).
  • [115′] Instead of walking to the Cité du Vin, they took a ferry which gave them a great perspective on the city.
  • [118′] For a great view, go up the Tour Saint-Andrée, fantastic at sunset time.
  • [118’40] Another great thing to do at dusk in Bordeaux is to go to Place de la Bourse to see the water mirror.
  • [120′] Taking the bus between Bordeaux and Saint-Sebastian. They used OuiBus and had a good experience. The bus took them through several cities between Bordeaux and Saint-Sebastian and they enjoyed seeing them briefly. Christine recommends taking the bus.
  • [126′] New Caledonia, also in France, even though it’s close to Australia.

Conclusion

Visiting southern France in winter can be a wonderful experience with a little planning and some awareness of peculiarities of rural France in winter. Christine shares some great insights, listen close if you’re planning a similar trip!

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French Alps, Episode 59


French Alps, Episode 59
Cynthia Caughey
This week we head to the French Alps with tour designer Cynthia Caughey. She lives in the Alps part-time with her French husband and has come to know it very well. Her company offers two tours: one is the Alps exclusively, and the other is French Alps and Provence. On the show we discuss both and I must say they sound like fun and action-packed tours, yet accessible to all. One of the attractions they take their visitors to is the Carrières de Lumières at Les-Baux-de-Provence, which I highly recommend (lots of photos on the website).


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