Languedoc

Price

£2,095.00 per person*

($2,702.55 USD or $3,582.45 AUD)

£200.00 deposit

£450.00 single room supplement

6 nights, 7 days

Dates

27th Aug to 2nd Sep 2017

Book Now

“Thank you again for all your hard work to ensure our holidays were so spectacular. We will have fond memories for years to come of the friends we met and the great biking through the south of France. We’re already debating which French Cycling tour to ta

-- Jackie and Bob, Virginia USA

Highlights

  • The dramatic Cirque de Moureze
  • The stunning caverns of the Grotte des Demoiselles
  • Stay in a 12th century convent and a 18th century château
  • Wine tasting with a prestigious vigneron
  • Stunning scenery on remote backroads
Book Now

Join us for a cycling adventure. All you have to do is pedal


Joining the tour

Start

TGV/train to Avignon /Ryanair to Nimes

Finish

Returns to Narbonne railway station

Collection is from Avignon TGV, Nimes rail station, and Nimes airport. Departures are from Narbonne rail station and Beziers Vias airport. 

Cycling level

5 out of 10

View Gallery

The Languedoc is a land of startling contrasts. From its flat coastal plain which is the largest wine producing area of France, the region stretches inland to the Black Mountains (Montagne Noire), and to the west until it meets the Pyrénées. In the east, the spectacular country of canyons and cliffs stretches onto the lonely plateau of the Cevennes, and from there to the River Rhône. The Mediterranean washes miles of white sandy beaches from the Rhone delta to the Spanish frontier. Between these borders sit the rugged hinterlands of the Corbières and Minervois.

Languedoc was in the early middle ages the historic home to the Cathars, a religious sect who rejected the pomp of the Catholic church, and who were persecuted to extinction as a result. The Cathars left a legacy of fortresses in the Pyrénéen foothills and the Montagne Noire that today are some of the most romantic ruins in Europe!

Another man-made feature of the Languedoc that has to be mentioned is the engineering feat of the Canal du Midi, built in the eighteenth century to carry goods from the Mediterranean at Sète to the river Garonne at Toulouse, from where they would be transported to the Atlantic coast at Bordeaux. Tranquil and tree-lined, it meanders across the Languedoc plain and into the hills.

Fish and shellfish feature strongly in the cuisine of the coastal region, with spanish influences being felt from the proximity of the border. Further inland the food is heartier, with specialities such as cassoulet and game dishes.

The wines of the Languedoc are diverse, as befits the worlds largest continuous wine growing region, with reds from the Faugeres and Minervois regions, the whites of Picpoul de Pinet and others from the coastal plain which provide a perfect accompaniment to shellfish dishes, and the sparkling wines of Limoux; these are but a small selection of what the area has to offer.

The cycling is as varied as the terrain, with moderate pedalling along the valley of the River Gardon, but challenging countryside in the more mountainous terrain of the Haut-Languedoc and its Cevennes National Park, and then easy cycling as we appreciate the wineries of the coastal plain. The tour involves a moderate amount of climbing, including a couple of cols or mountain passes, and is ideal for those with some cycling experience. Our bike tour will show you all of the diverse aspects of this fascinating region.

To view a map of the Languedoc tour route, click here

Day 1

We transfer from Avignon TGV station to our hotel, the beautiful Chateau d’Arpaillargues, set in its own courtyard and gardens just west of Uzès. Early arrivals may choose to take an excursion into the marvellously preserved medieval town of Uzès, or the incredible Roman Pont du Gard about 12km away.

Our first evening will be spent in our hotel's superb restaurant, enjoying the cuisine for which the region is famous.

Day 2

We set out west through gently undulating fields of vines and sunflowers, descending gently to the valley of the River Gardon. Our next port of call is the hilltop village of Vézénobres. The medieval cité includes several unique buildings including the Chateau de Thoiras which is now the village town hall. The town is also a great stop for lunch.

In the afternoon we cross the Gardon and continue to the historic town of Anduze. Inhabited since megalithic times, subsequently occupied by the Gauls and then the Romans, in the 12th Century it was the most powerful town in the Languedoc. It was the centre of Protestant revolt in the 17th century. After a coffee stop in the old town we visit the Bambouseraie de Prafrance, a marvellous collection of exotic plants set in hectares of bamboo groves.

Our final destination today is a hillside hotel looking over the valley of the Gardon de Mialet, with stunning views and a terrace perfect for a sundowner. We’ll eat here tonight at the gourmet restaurant.

Daily Distance 64km / 40 miles , vertical elevation 650m / 2,050ft

Day 3

Our second full day of riding takes us westwards to the village of Saint-Hippolyte-du-Fort on the banks of the River Vidourle. In the village, which is ideally placed for a coffee stop, keep a lookout for the fountains and sundials which abound.

Continuing, we pass through arrive in the village of St-Bauzillé-du-Putois before visiting the Grotte des Demoiselles. This massive cavern, with its enormous stalactite and stalagmite formations, is visited by an underground funicular railway. Lunch can be here or down by the Hérault river in Laroque.

Back on the road, a short ride brings us to our hotel in Moulès-et-Baucels. Kayaking on the Hérault might be possible according to conditions and timings. Dinner tonight is in our hotel.

Daily Distance 60km / 37 miles , vertical elevation 600m / 1,950ft

Day 4

Up bright and early because there is a longer day in the saddle today. We head south and west following the Hérault river, both along its edge and climbing above it, with some of the most dramatic scenery from any of our tours. We arrive at the beautiful village of St Guilhem le Désert, with its UNESCO-registered Abbey and winding streets. The village, which is on a pilgrim route to Santiago de Compstella, has been preserved in its original medieval state, has been nominated one of the plus beaux villages de France (most beautiful villages of France). Saint Guilhem is a perfect place for lunch, either a picnic or in one of the riverside restaurants.  

After lunch we pass through  Languedocian towns and villages, many of which have the wrought iron bell towers so typical of the region, and  come to our hotel which is fascinating in itself, being part of the Villeneuvette Royal cloth factory founded by Louis XIV's minister Colbert. After arriving at the hotel, we can visit the nearby Cirque de Mourèze, a fantastical landscape of dolomitic limestone columns and outcrops, which we can investigate at our leisure. Back at the hotel there should be time for a dip in the pool, before a dinner of contemporary Mediterranean cuisine, either on the terrace or in the vaulted 17th C dining room.

Daily Distance 60km / 38 miles , vertical elevation 1,000m / 3,300ft

Day 5

Glorious countryside is the order for the morning; after a climb to the Col de la Merquiere, we descend the valley into the Faugères wine growing appelation - the area produces some remarkable wines using unusual grape varieties such as Roussanne, Marsanne and Vermentino. A picnic lunch followed by a wine tasting is an ideal way to recharge the batteries for the afternoon (literally if you have taken advantage of an e-bike option!).

The afternoon route takes us through wine country to the region's biggest city, Béziers, where our boutique hotel is a few steps away from the bustling Allées Paul Riquet esplanade, named for the creator of the Canal du Midi, where the Biterois townsfolk, (as they are known), come to shop, eat, drink and promenade on a balmy summer's evening.

Daily Distance 64km / 40 miles , vertical elevation 700m / 2,200 ft

Day 6

The last day of riding takes us in a loop towards the River Orb; at the charming village of Cessenon-sur-Orb there is the possibility of a canoe excursion, or if the weather isn't ideal, we can take a visit to the nearby Abbaye de Fontcaude, dating from the 12th Century. The ride then heads into the flat Mediterranean plain, joining the Canal de la Robine which takes us, traffic free, into the heart of Narbonne. 

Narbonne is a fabulous city, capital of the Aude department, with 2000 years of history dating from its foundation in 118BC. Depending on time, we can visit the amazing unfinished 13th century Cathedral, the Archbishops Palace, the Museum of Archeology, or the Roman warehouses in the old port.

We finish the day riding along the Mediterranean coast, before a short ride to our '8 hotel in a winemaking Château: 

Daily Distance 70km / 44 miles , vertical elevation 450m / 1,480ft

Day 7

After breakfast we might like to take a dip in the pool or have a wander down to the beach. Then exchange addresses with new friends before the short transfer to Narbonne station for the onward journey.

Not all cycle vacations are the same. Compare what is included in a French Cycling Holidays bike tour:

  • Flexible collection from local airport or train station
  • Quality Trek bicycles
  • Quality helmets (if required)
  • CoolMax technical full zip French Cycling Holidays jersey (see sizing info below)
  • Water bottles (to take home as souvenirs)
  • Detailed riding instructions and colour route maps
  • Charming 3* (occasionally 4*) auberges, inns and hotels
  • Gourmet dinners for all 6 nights of your holiday
  • Fine wine (or soft drink alternative) with all evening meals and coffee to follow
  • 2 experienced bilingual guides with each tour
  • Delivery of your luggage to your hotel room each day
  • Entry fees to attractions and historical sites
  • Flexible onward transfers
  • An unforgettable experience!

We try to include as much as we can within the price, while keeping things as flexible as possible. With the explosion of low cost airlines and the easy access to the TGV rail system from the UK, we believe that it is more economical and convenient for customers to arrange their own travel to the region. Links to the airlines and railway companies can be found in frequently asked questions.

Transfers

We provide the transfers to and from the local airports and the nearest TGV stations, and other locations by arrangement. If you have driven down, we arrange secure parking for your car and return you to it after the tour.

Hotels

We stay in very comfortable hotels, mostly 3*, occasionally 4*, and very occasionally superior 2* hotels which we choose if they have charm and comfort above their rating. All rooms have en-suite shower or bath facilities.

We select our hotels for their character as well as their facilities, and avoid chains in favour of independent privately run hotels.

Prices are based on two sharing in twin or double rooms. Singles are available on request. Where possible, we choose hotels with swimming pools as there is nothing quite like a dip after a day in the saddle!

It is sometimes necessary to change accommodation for reasons of room availability, minor adjustments to the route or upgrading the hotels. We will always endeavour to use hotels of an equal or higher level of comfort/facilities to those shown – please contact us to check for the most up-to-date information regarding your particular tour.

Meals

All evening meals are included, and we carefully select the restaurants for cuisine and ambience, and favour those with a strong regional flavour.

All meals include a starter, main course and dessert, some will have an additional cheese course. We are happy to arrange for our restaurants to cater for specific dietary requirements and allergies etc.

Bikes & Equipment

We provide lightweight alloy framed Trek ‘hybrid’ touring bicycles with 24 indexed gears, fully equipped with lock, pump and toolkit (although our guides will generally be on hand to fix punctures and minor mechanical problems).

For carrying the items you might need during the day (camera, wallet, windbreaker etc.) we fit a capacious handlebar bag which also features a large map pocket. These clip on and off the bike in a flash so that you can always take your valuables with you when off the bike.

The bikes are meticulously maintained and we keep a wide range of sizes; female specific saddles are also available. We do not provide helmets automatically, as we find people prefer their own if they want to wear one, and sizing and fit is quite personal; however we always have helmets available for use. We also carry rain-capes should they be required (but hopefully not!). For certain tours we also have available 27 speed drop-handlebar race-style bikes, and tandems may also be available on certain tours by special request. We hire these locally, and charge on the additional cost. 

For nearly all of our tours an e-bike - electrically assisted bicycle - is an extra-cost option. These bikes apply a 'multiplier' to the level of input provided by the rider, the level of assistance can be adjusted for the terrain. This can be useful if there are members of your party have very different levels of bike-fitness and experience, as hills that look daunting suddenly become easy with an e-bike.

Please contact us for details.

Jerseys

Our complimentary French Cycling Holidays jerseys are the ideal garments for cycling in the sunshine.

The high tech Coolmax™ fabric is engineered to keep users dry and comfortable especially during exercise. We have abandoned women's specific sizing as the difference in measurements expected for different parts of the anatomy meant that the womens specific fit rarely suited our customers. The fabric is stretchy so we have found that the mens' cut is normally fine!

             
Men's (Women's equivalent) XS (6)  S (8-10) M (12-14) L (16) XL (18) XXL
Chest (cm/in)

 90cm

 

98cm
38.5"
102cm
40"
108cm
42.5"
110cm
43.5"
117cm
46"

Please specify the sizes you require on the full Booking Form or by contacting us.

These are the armpit-to-armpit measurement of the unstretched jerseys. The women’s jerseys are fitted, while the men’s are a straighter cut. Both styles are quite close/slim-fitting so if you prefer looser clothing, you may wish to go one up from your regular clothes size. However being made from CoolMax technical fabric which stretches, they do have room if you find yourself halfway between a size – e.g. a women’s 12 would fit a 36” chest, or a men’s M a 41”/42” chest etc.

They also have silicon gripper strips around the waist to stop the jersey riding up the back when you are on the bike, and three standard rear pockets.

For more information on what to wear visit our FAQ page.

Guides and Backup

There will be two guides on every tour; one cycling with the group and one in the minibus which will follow the group. The bus carries all luggage not required for the day's ride and will always be available for anyone at any point during the day. If for instance you want to take a day off the bike, or if a particular day seems a little hard, the bus will take you for as long or as little as you wish it to.

Everybody is provided with detailed route maps for each day, and both guides are easily contactable by mobile phone. The guides are enthusiastic experts on the local area and will be able to sort out any problems or special requests that you might have.

Chateau d’Arpaillargues, Arpaillargues

An imposing castle with a gorgeous walled courtyard, and a large garden with an enormous swimming pool. The dining room and breakfast room, with their original arched ceilings, are a lovely environment for the delicious food we’ll enjoy at the start of the tour.

Chateau d'Arpaillargues

Les Trois Barbus, Générargues

Up on the hill above the Gardon de Mialet river, this recently refurbished hotel has a terrace with a spectacular view down the gorge and a swimming pool and gardens seeming to tumble down the hillside. The excellent restaurant also overlooks the gorge, making the most of that view.

Les 3 Barbus

Domaine de Blancardy, Moulès-et-Baucels

This fortified farmhouse, dating from the 16th Century, surrounds a charming courtyard and the gardens and swimming pool look on to the Montagne de la Fage, under which lies the Grotte des Demoiselles.

Domaine de Blancardy

Hotel de la Source, Villeneuvette 

Converted from a 17th century Royal cloth factory, designed by Colbert for Louis XIV, the hotel is a wonderful oasis of peace and luxury. The enormous rooms have all possible modern facilities but retain the charm of the ancient stonework. The hotel boasts a spa and an outdoor pool, and an excellent restaurant.

La Source

Hotel Particulier, Béziers

This former brandy distillery has been transformed into a luxury hotel with a contemporary design and is set a stone’s throw from the old quarter of Pézenas. The hotel boasts an indoor/outdoor spa area with pool, and a bar holding a large selection of local wines. We eat out both nights here as we are spoilt for choice with good local restaurants.

Hotel Particulier

Château de l'Hospitalet, Narbonne

 

Chateau Hospitalet

 

It is sometimes necessary to change accommodation for reasons of room availability, minor adjustments to the route or upgrading the hotels. We will always endeavour to use hotels of an equal or higher level of comfort/facilities to those shown – please contact us to check for the most up-to-date information regarding your particular tour.

Below we answer all the most common questions that you might ask before choosing a French Cycling Holidays tour. If you have any further questions then please get in touch. We look forward to hearing from you.

How fit do I need to be?

Anybody who is reasonably active should be able to take part and enjoy our tours.

The tours have different levels of physical exertion — whilst the Loire Valley tours and Bordeaux tour are easy going; the Normandy, Provence Roman Heritage, and Burgundy tours are a little more strenuous, whilst and the Provence Lubéron, Dordogne and Languedoc tours require a reasonable level of fitness.

For nearly all of our tours an e-bike - electrically assisted bicycle - is an extra-cost option. These bikes apply a 'multiplier' to the level of input provided by the rider, the level of assistance can be adjusted for the terrain. This can be useful if there are members of your party have very different levels of bike-fitness and experience, as hills that look daunting suddenly become easy with an e-bike. Contact us via the contact page if you would like more details.   

The Sports tours are aimed at enthusiast cyclists who might want to bring their own road bikes. However, the rides are not races and there is no time limit - and there is always the minibus if things get too tough!

We would nevertheless recommend that anyone who has not taken any regular exercise for some time to consult their doctor before considering any activity based holiday. Bear in mind that a little regular riding before coming on a cycling vacation will always be a benefit to the experience.

How do I get there?

We pick up and drop off from the nearest international airports and TGV/railway stations to the start of each tour. (We can drop at a nearer airport or station by arrangement if more convenient for you and logistically possible). This gives everyone the option of making their way by the most economical or convenient means. The major options are:

Flying from the UK

Ryanair flies into following airports:

Nimes (for the Provence tours and Languedoc tours; Ryanair also fly out of Beziers and Montpellier for the Languedoc tour); Bergerac (for the Bordeaux tour), Dinard for the Normandy tour, Grenoble for Alpine trips and Pau (for the Classic Cols tour)

Ryanair operates out of Liverpool, London Stansted and London Luton Airports amongst others.

Easyjet flies into Montpellier (for the Provence tours) and out of Bordeaux (for the Bordeaux tour); it flys into Geneva and Lyon for Alpine tours and also out of Nice for the Alpine Raid.

British Airways prices can be reasonable if booked in advance — BA fly into Bordeaux for train transfers to Bergerac (Bordeaux tour), and Marseilles (Provence tours).

If we do not pick up from the airport itself, we will advise on rail connections from the airport to our pick-up points.

Rail for visitors from outside Europe / those already in France

The TGV can be an exceptionally quick way of reaching many French destinations from the UK and from Paris for those flying from overseas or UK regions.

The Eurostar SNCF (French National Railways) TGV websites may be useful. As a guide, London St Pancras to Avignon via TGV takes approximately 6½ hours; Tours takes 4 hours. From Paris Charles de Gaulle airport, the point of arrival for most intercontinental flights, Tours is 1½ hours by TGV, Avignon (for Provence) just over 3 hours.

Brive-la-Gaillarde is 4 hours from Paris by rail for the Dordogne tour. We are more than happy to advise on rail options — please contact us. Internet sales from the French SNCF site ( www.voyages-sncf.com sites are possible but are in French; the approved agency for the US and Canada is RailEurope ; however we are happy to advise and help with the French website.

Driving

This may be a good choice if your French Cycling Holiday is part of a longer stay. We will arrange secure parking for your car at or near our first hotel, and return you to your car at the end of the trip. (Note - this service may not be available on certain long distance sports tours - please check with us). The major ferry and crossing companies from the UK are Eurotunnel, P&O, Brittany Ferries, LD Lines, Speedferries and SeaFrance.

If it is more convenient for you to hire a car Europcar in our experience have the best rates for rentals where the drop-off is at a different location to the pickup.

However you choose to travel, we are very happy to help you sort out your itinerary.

What kind of pedals do you use?

Pedals are obviously fairly important on a cycling tour! We stock the following kinds:

Flat – i.e. no special cleats or grips, these pedals can be used with any kind of footwear. If you do not regularly use special pedals or cycling shoes, we recommend standard trainers/sneakers to wear while riding.

SPD/flat – we also have pedals with one side flat and one side an SPD cleat. This is the standard Shimano SPD compatible system; two bolts and the small cleat pictured on the shoe with the yellow sole. These cleats are ideal for cycling tours as the cleat is usually recessed into the bottom of the shoe. The pedals are visible to the right of the picture.

SPD/flat style pedals

Flats with cages – we have a small number of flat pedals with cages & straps – again if you are not used to this, we wouldn’t recommend starting a tour with them!

Other – we do NOT stock any other pedal systems. If you use any other kind of pedal, you are very welcome to bring your own and our guides can fit them to your bike for the week. However, we would advise against racing-style pedals such as the Look Keo, Shimano SPD-SL or similar, as these tend to have a large, protruding cleat on the sole of the shoe which makes walking around visits or lunch stops (or even nipping into a public toilet!) quite uncomfortable and dangerous. Sports tours are a little different as there are much longer days and less off-the-bike walking – a choice is ultimately up to you though!

Can I use my own bike?

We are happy for anyone to bring their own bikes. However, the budget airlines charge around £50 each way and packing and carriage can be a hassle. Our Trek bikes are of a high standard, and our customers usually express pleasant surprise at the quality of the machines, so it might be a better option to bring your saddle and/or pedals which we will be very happy to fit. In any case there will always be a backup bike should you have a mechanical problem. Please feel free to call us for advice on bike transportation.

What should I wear?

The main thing that people who are not regular distance cyclists worry about is a sore behind. This is not as is popularly thought due to too-hard saddles, but friction between skin and garments. This is why professional cyclists wear skin-tight lycra shorts with padded inserts. Many people feel a bit self-conscious in this sort of gear and your local cycle shop will have a range of padded undershorts which can be worn under normal clothing, or regularly styled shorts with sewn-in padded liners. Otherwise, lightweight comfortable clothing (tee-shirts, shorts, trainers) is ideal, with something warmer like a fleece just in case. As we will be dining well, you might like to take something presentable (but not formal — no-one on a French Cycling Holiday stands on ceremony!) for the evening meal.

How many people on each tour?

As well as being an active holiday, sampling the best that France has to offer, we believe that our trips should be an opportunity to meet people and make new friends. Our groups are limited to a maximum of 16, which is the largest number that we can give a personal service to, and a minimum of 6 people, which we feel is the number needed to achieve a group spirit. If we cannot achieve this number, we may cancel the tour giving a minimum of five weeks notice.

What weather are we likely to encounter?

We time our tours so that the weather should be ideal for cycling for each tour. For that reason we have our Provence and Languedoc tours in the late spring and early autumn, rather than in high summer when it can be too hot to cycle comfortably after 10 a.m. The Loire Valley, Dordogne, Bordeaux and Burgundy tours are more temperate, which is why we concentrate these tours in July and August. We cannot guarantee the weather, but it would be very unlucky to have more than one wet day on any of the tours.

Are there any age limits?

There is no specific upper age limit — the only constraint is a reasonable level of fitness. Children between 10 and 16 are welcome as part of family groups. We do not recommend these tours for children under 10.

Do I need travel insurance?

We require all participants to have travel insurance with full medical cover. It is part of the conditions of our tours that participant should provide evidence of suitable cover. If you have any questions about the cover required please contact us for advice.

What financial protection is in place for my booking?

In accordance with “The Package Travel, Package Tours Regulations 1992” customers of French Cycling Holidays Limited will be indemnified in respect of their net ascertained financial loss sustained arising from the cancellation or curtailment of the declared trip travel arrangements arising solely from the event of the financial failure of French Cycling Holidays Limited.

This insurance has been arranged by Towergate Chapman Stevens through Hiscox Insurance Company Limited.

“Dear Mike,

Just a note of thanks for a truly terrific holiday in the Languedoc. I appreciated greatly the challenge and when this old body couldn't keep up in the heat, you were so kind to keep me company, keep me going and keep me laughing. I feel I have found a very special part of France, thanks to French Cycling Holidays.”

Derin, New Jersey, USA


“Incredible – the trip of a life time. Something amazing around every corner. Well “curated”; exceptional, professional guides. Hotel and food top notch!”

Sharon, Uba City, California


“Very special – you catered to everyone's needs, and went out of your way to make sure we had a unique experience. Guides were lovely and had a great eye for detail, not just on food, but routes, water, need to stop for ATMs, and everything else. I'd love to do more rides with you.”

Sarah Todd, Cambah, ACT, Australia

 

Downloads

Languedoc Tour Map

Gallery