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 email@example.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.
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[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.
[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.
 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!
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?
This episode is full of great honeymoon ideas for people who want to have the best of both worlds: a vacation where you explore a new country and city, plus spend plenty of time relaxing at the beach and enjoying one another’s company.
In the episode Romantic Paris, Gary told us about their time in Paris, but as fun as that was, Gary and Leslie also wanted to spend time on the Mediterranean Sea. Why? Because that’s where all the celebrities love to go because it is so scenic and pleasant. So, settle in with the drink of you choice and find some of the best honeymoon ideas for 2017!
If you like this episode and want to visit the French Riviera, you should also listen to Episode 118 and Episode 37 about Marseilles; Episode 33 on Aix-en-Provence; Episode 83 about the Baux-de-Provence, the Lubéron and the Abbey de Sénanque.
Hotel recommended in this episode: Hôtel La Pérouse in Nice. Also check out Gary’s new blog on Romantic Vacations.
Places mentioned in this episode: Nice, Cannes, Saint-Paul-de-Vence, Èze, La Turbie, Monaco.
Would you like to tour France with Annie and Elyse? Visit Addicted to France to choose an upcoming tour.
[8’12”] 4 days and 4 nights in Nice, on the French Riviera
[9′] The idea was to explore Paris, but also add a relaxed but take time for the romance as well
[10′] The French Riviera where the elites go to vacation and some of the most beautiful places in the world
[11’31] Nice seemed like a good place to be based out of because it is so central, and old-town Nice is so quaint
[12’15] Thinking about renting a luxury car but changing their mind after learning some specifics about driving in France, and especially parking on the Riviera (listen to the episode in full for more reasons not to do that!)
[13’42] Booking private tours just for the two of them on Viatour instead and finding out some interesting historical facts from the drivers/guides
[14′] You can see strong historical ties between France and Italy when visiting the Riviera, and it looks like Tuscany in places
[15′] Great Pizza and Italian food at the French Riviera, and how they don’t slice it for you
[16′] Their driver took them to Cannes (you can also listen to the episode about the Cannes Film Festival) to get a quick taste
[17″15] Antibes, which has a lovely Picasso Museum, but if you want to see amazing yachts and boats, this is the place to go
[19″] Saint-Paul de Vence, the Jewel of the French Riviera, a walled medieval city with a lot of history, cobblestone streets, and art galleries
[21′]Èze, another medieval city with a beautiful not-to-be-missed garden at the top of the hill, great gelato, great cheese and meat platter, and the Parfumarie Galimard where you can get a free tour of how they make soap
[23′] Parking in Èze is difficult, La Turbie is very close to Èze and also very nice to visit
[24′] Monaco, second smallest country in the world, extremely rich, very interesting to see, you can see sites where they filmed To Catch a Thief, you can see the Casino and all the luxury cars, they drove on the road where the Grand Prix de Monaco takes place, there’s also a great aquarium, you can tour the Palace
[29′] Is 4 days enough? Just right? Too much?
[30’15] Hôtel La Pérouse in Nice, Gary describes the wonderful view and great services
[33’44] Local food and restaurants: a lot of seafood, pastas with octopus
[35′] Popular drinks in Nice: a “Monaco” (beer + grenadine) and a “Panaché” (beer + limonade), Pastis or Anisette (anis-flavored apéritif drink)
[36′] La Fougasse: bread with onion and anchovies or other items, pizza is also very good, great ice-cream parlors (Fenocchio is a favorite of Annie’s)
[37’30] Beach clubs: a highlight of their honeymoon, they went to Castel Plage, you pay for lounge chairs, umbrella, towels, and you have service, food, drinks (including a very large Blonde de Saint-Tropez)
[44′] It’s a rocky beach in Nice, so it’s good to have a beach chair and have beach shoes, and then you don’t have to worry about messy sand!
[46’30] September was great weather in both Paris and Nice
[48′] Old town Nice is lovely, has great restaurant, great to walk around and explore
[49′] Spending 4 full days in Nice would be too long, but breaking it up with visits to other areas makes it just right
[49’30] How listening to the podcast was critical in helping Gary get inspiration
To sum it all up, to come up with great honeymoon ideas, you have to bring a mix of the following magical elements:
Beautiful surroundings: both Paris and the French Riviera have an over-abundance of that!
Pleasant weather: September in France is not too hot, not too cold, it is just right!
Be willing to pay for a lovely hotel in a great location.
Plan on some tourism, but limit those activities to 3 or 4 hours per day, so there’s plenty of time to relax.
Don’t try to do it all yourself: driving yourself can be fun, but it can also be stressful. Let other people take care of anything stressful for you.
Take into account the preferences of both spouses, you can have plenty of exploration mixed in with relaxation if you plan it right as Gary did.
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Katie and Nathan’s favorite area of France were the Verdon Gorge, Provence and Carcassonne. They loved the hikes, the Mediterranean, the friendly people they ran into, the food, the wine, the whole experience was fantastic. Katie and Nathan are from Durham, North Carolina. She’s 26 and a teacher and he’s 29 and a mechanical engineer.
This is the third part of a 3-part series with Katie and Nathan:
Ep. 120 is on Colmar and Alsace.
Ep. 121 next week is going to be on Chamonix, Annecy, and the Alps.
Ep. 122 the week after that is going to be on Verdon Gorge, Provence, and Carcassonne.
Places Mentioned in this Episode: Artignoc-sur-Verdon, Moissac-Bellevue, Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, Château Fontainebleau du Var, Quinson, Verdon Gorge, Canal du Verdon, Riez, Carcassonne, Auberge de Jeunesse in Carcassonne.