The Real South of France Languedoc

Price

£2,275.00 per person*

($3,094.00 USD or $3,867.50 AUD)

£200.00 deposit

£450.00 single room supplement

6 nights, 7 days

Dates

13th May to 19th May 2018

26th Aug to 1st Sep 2018

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“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
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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

7 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.

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.

“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