Why our Starry Nights, Provence is the most popular tour
Posted 01 Apr 2020
Set in the Provençal countryside that inspired hundreds of Vincent Van Gogh paintings, our Starry Nights in Provence trip has topped the table as one of our most popular tours. While each of our luxury European cycling holidays has something special to offer—whether you're intrigued by exploring châteaux in the Loire or rolling gently through the vineyards of Chianti—we're excited to share a few reasons why Starry Nights is so extraordinary.
Leisurely cycling all the way
Located between the Southern Alps and the Mediterranean Sea, Provence is renowned for its varied landscape. Rugged rock formations, rolling hills and towering cliffs are all lovely to look at but can be a bit tricky to pedal up.
We've designed this course to cover some of Provence's beauty spots from a relatively flat network of cycle paths and roads. This gives you the chance to visit and appreciate the best attractions and see sweeping views of the region without doing the heavy legwork.
Lots of flexibility
As you only move hotels twice during this week-long tour, you have plenty of wriggle room and the opportunity to cycle as much – or as little – as you like. The itinerary is definitely not set in stone—we'll give you information on great tracks and trails, but if you fancy spending some time exploring the boutiques and art galleries of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence and Arles you can. It's your holiday, after all!
As well as being able to choose what you do with your days, you can also decide where—and when—you eat. Breakfast is included at both hotels, as are gourmet meals on the nights you move towns. Other than that, your dining options are completely flexible, giving you plenty of excuses to try our favourite restaurants in Provence.
Provence has an incredibly diverse wild colour palette, and, as you cycle through, you'll quickly understand why this particular area was so influential to the likes of Van Gogh. Fields of fragrant purple lavender and vibrant yellow sunflowers make way for lush green forests, all with a backdrop of bright blue skies.
In Roussillon, you'll catch sight of the red-orange cliffs which were an important source of ochre—a natural pigment used by painters until 1929 when synthetic versions became more popular. As you make your way to the Camargue Nature Reserve, you might even be lucky enough to spot the pastel pink flocks of flamingos, around 30,000 of which call the park home from April to September.
Heaps of culture
Days are spent delving into the countryside's charm, while evenings are occupied in two Provençal cultural hubs: Saint-Rémy-de-Provence and Arles.
Van Gogh lived and worked in Arles for just over a year, and was inspired by the scenes of town life he experienced to create legendary paintings like Café de la Gare. The Yellow House he used as a studio was destroyed during WWII, however, the Roman amphitheatre remains standing and often hosts open-air concerts on balmy summer nights.
Van Gogh passed his later years in an asylum in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, and it's here he painted The Starry Night. Narrow cobblestone streets lend themselves well to dusk-lit strolls, and there is an abundance of pavement cafés to relax in as you listen to the gentle babbling from the fountains.
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