Why our Côtes du Rhônes tour is cycle expert Lewis Morcombe's pick for this summer

Posted 10 May 2017

Provence is hands down one of France's most idyllic regions – perfect for short breaks, extended holidays and, of course, cycling trips. With fairy-tale châteaux punctuating rolling vineyards and peaceful market towns basking in a Mediterranean climate, this landscape is ideal for two-wheeled adventures. The area is also home to cycling guru Lewis Morcombe's favourite tour: our Côtes du Rhône tour. We take a look at some of the reasons why.

Hotel Heaven

Hotel heaven

Lewis says: "The hotels on this tour are just fantastic and have a real wow factor, especially the Château des Fines Roches which is set amongst a lush vineyard, with panoramic views across the Rhone." Staying at this 19th-century château, with its turrets, terrace and gourmet restaurant, is just the treat you deserve after a 23-mile cycle ride.

You'll find a similar experience at the Château de Mazan. This impressive 18th-century mansion is right in the heart of the historical centre and surrounded by magical gardens. You're also moments from the soaring spire of the town church and local museum, which contains all kinds of curiosities – including an impressive ceiling, painted by one of the Avignon school masters.

Magical Markets

Magical markets

While the charming landscape itself is a main attraction of the trip, don’t forget the markets. "The towns along the way have a real rustic feel too and are full of character," says Lewis. "Make sure to catch one of the weekend farmer’s markets for a true taste of the town."

Stop off at the scenic village of Loriol-du-Comtat for an especially enticing market experience. The dusky yellow buildings here are surrounded by miles of rich vineyards – the very ones that provide the grapes for the legendary Châteauneuf-du-Pape wine. But there's also a lively flea market here during the spring – perfect for picking up a few quirky keepsakes and gifts for your family.

The town of Châteauneuf-du-Pape has a market itself too. Every Friday morning, La Place de la Renaissance comes alive with colourful stalls selling fresh local fruits and vegetables. It's certainly worth seeing for the atmosphere alone.

Well matured wines

Well-matured wines

A glass or two of wine is a must on this trip, as Lewis points out: "The area is of course well-known for its amazing wines – reds such as Côtes du Rhône and Châteauneuf-du-Pape are real favourites of mine. The whites were brilliant too though. After a summer day's cycling, sipping on a Viognier is the perfect end to the day."

In Châteauneuf-du-Pape, La Mule du Pape restaurant is a great place to start sampling the fruity delights of the region's famous wines. It's a local favourite with a casual atmosphere, and serves everything from refreshing salads to delectable pan-fried foie gras for when you're feeling peckish after your ride. There's also the Vignobles Mayard, a local family-run estate with an excellent wine shop. If you're planning on taking a bottle (or two) back home or want an invigorating white to take on a picnic, this is the place to spend your euros.

It's also worth noting that our Côtes du Rhône tour has e-bikes available, for those who are looking for a slightly less strenuous trip.

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