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Hilltop villages of Provence

Posted 10 Nov 2019

There's nowhere that captures the imagination quite like Provence. Artists from Picasso to Van Gogh, film stars like Bridget Bardot, and writers like James Baldwin have all been drawn to the irresistible charms of this special corner of France. Here's a round-up of our favourite picturesque hilltop villages in Provence just waiting to be discovered on our luxury cycling holidays.

Saint-Rémy-de-Provence

The magical Calavon and Luberon cycle trails take you through a rolling gallery of Provençal clichés brought to life; from gentle, undulating hills garlanded in lush, green vineyards and lavender fields, to typical farmhouses and family vineyards.

Arriving in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, make sure you take in the view of the town. It was made famous by Vincent Van Gogh in 1889, when he used it as the backdrop for one of his most celebrated paintings, The Starry Night. Van Gogh painted the scene from the window of the asylum where he was being treated just outside of town. The beautiful building has now been turned into a small museum.

Before leaving make sure you head to a café to sample a shot of local Pastis. This anise and liquorice-flavoured aperitif is the perfect accompaniment to some serious people-watching at an alfresco table, ideally complete with a Provençal table cloth.

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Les Baux-de-Provence

On our Provence & Carmargue bike and boat tour, you'll visit quaint Les Baux-de-Provence. One of the oldest villages in France, the defensive value of the site's uninterrupted views attracted human settlement as early as 6000 BC. No longer of any defensive value, these incredible views of the Provence countryside are now primarily enjoyed by intrepid tourists.

For the best views, head up to the ramparts of Château des Baux. Originally built during the 10th century and much added to, the site is the perfect place to absorb the history of the region.

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Fontaine-de-Vaucluse

This charming little hilltop village is famous for its namesake natural spring which you can visit on our Perfumes of Provence cycling tour. The spring is the fifth most powerful in the world, propelling 630 cubic metres of water into the turquoise Sorgue River per year.

Once you've seen the spring opt to explore the town's medieval streets, taking in old ruins and ancient monuments as you go. Finish up with a visit to one of the town's ice cream parlours for a quick cool down before continuing on to your next stop.

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Pont du Gard

It may not be a town but no trip to Provence would be complete without a visit one of the most impressive structures ever built by the Romans, the Pont du Gard. Straddling the gentle Gardon River, the Pont du Gard was built between 40-60AD to carry water to the Roman town of Nemausus, modern day Nîmes.

The triple-arched aqueduct is a marvel of engineering and can still be traversed on foot today. The best way to enjoy this incredible site, however, is by swimming or kayaking the impeccably clear and impossibly warm Gardon.

For more information on the hilltop villages in Provence and our cycling holidays, call our cycle experts. All of our tours can be tailored to create your ideal cycling holiday on two wheels.

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