Bike and Barge cruise Provence
A brand new bike and boat tour in France featuring Lyon and the Provence! Your floating accommodation, the deluxe MS Provence, will cruise the Rhône river, from Lyon to Arles or reverse.
During this cycling holiday you will ride much of your itinerary on the Via Rhona, the Rhône Cycle Route, which follows the course of the mighty Rhône all the way down to its delta on the French Mediterranean coast.
Lyon, at the confluence of the Rhône and Saône rivers is the third largest city in France. Its history goes back to the times of the Romans but was inhabited even before that by Celtic tribes. Here you begin or end your tour and you will find the historical and cultural essence of the region, known for its wine and cuisine. You will cycle a rolling landscape, dotted with imposing castles, ancient monasteries, and pass through delightful Provençal villages, vineyards, and fields of sunflowers and lavender that were so dear to the painter Vincent van Gogh.
The route from day to day Lyon to Arles
- Saturday Lyon, embarkation.
- Sunday Lyon –Vienne – Andance –Tournon-sur-Rhone, 42 km
- Monday Tournon – Valence – Le Pouzin, 33/73 km
- Tuesday Le Pouzin – Viviers, 42 km
- Wednesday Viviers – Roquemaure – Avignon, 40 km
- Thursday Avignon – Tarascon/Arles, 50/58 km
- Friday Tarascon/Arles – Arles. 21/50 km
- Saturday: Arles, debarkation before 10 AM
1 km = 0.62 miles / All distances are approximate. The above planned itinerary is subject to change due to changing wind and weather conditions and other unforeseen circumstances having to do with mooring requirements, etc.
Day 1 Saturday: Lyon embarkation
You are expected to arrive on our barge on Saturday the latest at 5 PM. When you arrive on board the ship, you can put your luggage away in your cabin and then enjoy a cup of coffee or tea. Time to meet the crew and your fellow travelers for this week
Day 2 Sunday: Lyon – Tournon-sur-Rhone, 35 km
Get ready for incredible scenery, tastes, and fragrances! Leaving Vienne, you immediately bike into the nature reservation Île au Beurre, where you can enjoy the peace and quietness of nature. The landscape slowly changes into that of vineyards as you enter the land of the Côte Rôtie. The vineyards are unique because of the steep slopes facing the river and their stone walls. The landscape changes again, this time into the green landscape of the Ardèche countryside Here you can find the boat moored in Andance. During dinner, the ship will navigate to Tournon sur Rhône.
Day 3 Monday: Tournon-sur-Rhone – Le Pouzin, 33/58/73 km
On the short route this morning the captain and his crew start the day early to bring you to the city of Valence, where the boat will arrive after breakfast. This town with its colorful markets and it’s historic “Quartiers” is the starting point of your cycling day featuring the typical small villages of the Ardèche, historic sites, and the green meadows of a nature reserve towards Le Pouzin in the Drôme area. The long route takes you inland to the Drôme region and the ancient city of Crest with its imposing defense tower that overlooks both the river and the city. The third option is an exceptional one and needs pre-booking. From Tournon an old steam train takes you and your bike up to Lamastre, the starting place of the Dolce Via bike route. The next 73 kilometers you will ride along an old railway line that has been turned into a bike route. You ride through the imposing mountainous landscape of the Ardèche through tunnels and along ravines. The route is partly unpaved. A day for the good cyclists.
Day 4 Tuesday: Le Pouzin – Viviers, 42 km
Today the tour brings you past the medieval abbey of Cruas and further along you will be crossing a memorable rope bridge in Rochemaure. Though built by Marc Seguin in 1858, the architect was inspired by the castle ramparts. This bridge can be seen as a symbolic passing from old to new, from history to the future. At the end of the day you will be parking your bike next to the boat and you can enjoy a stroll through the historic village of Viviers.
Day 5 Wednesday: Viviers – Avignon, 40 km
After a morning sail, the bikes will be put ashore at Roquemaure. From here you will bike straight into the village of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. You might want to purchase a bottle of wine of the same name to take home! Once you pass the hilly landscape around Châteauneuf-du-Pape, you are rewarded with an almost completely flat bike path along the river. Soon you will enjoy a panoramic view of Avignon, the home of the Popes in the 14th century. In this city you can wander the old streets, enjoy the French way of life on the squares with their terraces and just breathe the culture.
Day 6 Thursday: Avignon – Tarascon/Arles, 50/58 km
Many choices today on the ride from the ancient city of Popes to the South. The longer and easier route takes you on a relaxed ride along the river on the Via Rhôna. The shorter but more strenuous route is a breathtaking stage, which brings you to the Alpilles, with the perched villages of Les-Baux-de-Provence and Saint Rémy de Provence. A landscape of limestone cliffs and olive trees will accompany the trip. For the very keen cyclists we have the option of a long ride inland (more than 70 km) that brings you to the best preserved Roman aqueduct in Europe: Pont du Gard.
Day 7 Friday: Tarascon/Arles – Arles, 21/50 km
For those who want to explore Arles and all the cozy corners Van Gogh once painted we have prepared an nice short route of only 21 kilometers. If you want to spend your last day cycling the longer option, we offer an interesting ride into to Camargue, the river delta of the Rhône. Here you will find salt marches and century old traces of human population. You might even see the famous Camargue wild horses.
Day 8 Saturday: Arles, end of tour after breakfast
Disembarkation before 10 AM.
- All nights on board (incl. bedding, towels, soap)
- Breakfast and 4 course dinner on board
- Lunch packages when on the road
- Coffee and tea on board
- City walks
- Free WiFi
- Route information for self-guided option
- Support vehicle
- Ferry fares on the route
- GPS tracks (on request)
- Guided tour option for short and long routes (see below)
- Bicycle rent (see below)
- Bicycle insurance Hybrid bike (optional) € 20,- per bicycle
- Bicycle insurance E-bike (optional) € 40,- per bicycle
- Entrance fees to museums.
- Personal insurance
- Drinks on board
- Guided option, tour guide cycles with the group, max. 20 cyclists per group (short distances/long distances):€ 150,-
- Rental bike incl. bike helmet: € 95,- (Hybrid bike with 24 gears, pannier bags, lock, water bottle)
- Rental E-bike incl. bike helmet: € 180,- (with 21 gears)
If you have special meal requirements (vegetarian meals, or if you are on a diet), we ask you to mention this when booking. In case of gluten free/Celiac/vegan diet there is an additional charge of € 50,- per week.
Dutch Barge Cruises reserves the right to cancel tours with fewer than 12 participants up to 21 days prior to the date of departure.