Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Cycling In Provence

We have just returned from 8 days in Provence. We took our folding bicycles (Brompton for me, Bickerton for Adam) since Eurostar is still imposing prohibitive restrictions on travelling with full-size bicycles. As it happens, though, touring with small-wheeled bicycles worked out very well for us. 

I will do fuller write-ups on our travels each day as I sort through 1,500+ (!!) photographs, but here are a few highlights: 


It is of course a stereotype that French food is wonderful, but that reputation is well earned. We ate like kings every day. After the first 4-5 days, we began telling ourselves "must not eat so much today" but it was really hard to resist when the menus were so enticing. 


Surfaces were all sorts. The experience however is whatever you make of it. Cycling alongside quite busy highways was nowhere near as fraught as it is in the UK, because French drivers are generally much more aware of cyclists and how much space we need. And they don't seem to hate us! 

Adam excelled himself however in choosing routes on very quiet -- virtually deserted, in fact -- roads that ran parallel to busier through routes. Often we were on single-lane paved tracks with nothing but farms alongside. 


Apart from thunderstorms forecast for the Tuesday afternoon/evening, the weather was a settled, quite warm for the time of year, 27-28 degrees Celsius. Skies were partly cloudy. Humidity is low, which made for very comfortable cycling conditions. I noticed the very first day that muscles in my whole body appreciated the warmth -- but particularly my legs and hence my grumpy knees. I did have a lot of knee pain but that was self-inflicted -- more on which later. 


Our first night (in Avignon), we stayed in a medieval house built in 1526 right in the heart of the old city. Then we were in Vaison-la-Romaine for 3 nights, in a hotel build in 1556, again right in the old city within the hilltop fortress. 

Finally, we spent 4 nights in Gordes, staying in a self-contained 'granny flat' on a B&B basis, enjoying breakfast on our hosts' terrace each morning. 

Brief thoughts on what I'd do differently next time

On balance, I prefer staying in small hotels. I love the privacy, the 24/7 front-desk service and the fuller range of options than what a B&B can offer. But our B&B hosts in Gordes were just lovely and we would definitely recommend them. 

For cycling, I think I'd wear bib shorts (with some kind of SPF protection or Coolmax type fabric) rather than non-bibs. Cycling in the heat, I was aware of the constriction of a waistband more than I ever have at home. 

I also learned a few lessons about sunscreen but mainly was successful in avoiding sunburn. I used a physical block and must remember to cleanse my face more often to avoid minor break-outs. 

Just musings at the moment... 

It was a wonderful trip and I am looking forward to sharing our experiences in more detail. 


  1. I can understand wanting a bit of privacy and preferring a smaller hotel to a B&B, but hopefully you enjoyed (it sounds like you did) your days on wheels.

    I have had similar experiences with sunscreen... I have to remind myself to wash my face more or I have minor breakouts. As for the rest of my limbs and such, I always manage to miss a small bit and end up with some small, but oddly shaped burns. [sigh]

    I've been doing more walking than biking for some reason this month so far and I've noticed things such as waistbands on particular pants to be a nuisance in the heat, so I can identify with your realization that bibs might be a better way to go.

    Looking forward to reading more when you have time to share! :)

  2. How fun to see these places through your eyes. I look forward to reading more.

  3. Ahhh, I love Provence and can't wait to see more pictures and hear your impressions. Such a special region of the world.

  4. Thanks G.E., Suze and Annie -- I'm looking forward to sharing our story and photos. It was a wonderful trip.

  5. Wonderful. We'll be cycling in Burgundy wine region in France around Dijon area and west. Before taking train to Barcelona, Spain..


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