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Walking and Cycling in Provence

Provence conjures images of dazzling azure skies, ordered olive groves bathed in sunshine and stone cottages with painted shutters. Inland, it’s a place that promises to realise dreams of a relaxed lifestyle, while the glamorous coast draws the stylish and well-heeled in their dozens. The beaches of the Côte d’Azur are nothing short of legendary, their sweeping sands sloping gently into the cool Mediterranean, where tanned figures sip Champagne on yachts.

But the coast deserves to be recognised for more than its fashionable resorts; orange-roofed buildings cluster along the shoreline, rocky outcrops break up the sands, and its cities hold historic appeal. Marseille is an ancient charm, founded by the Greeks and now a vibrant, cosmopolitan location, while Roman Fréjus is famous for receiving Marc Antony’s defeated fleet. Inland, it’s an entirely different story. Stone buildings crouch among lavender fields that extend to the horizon, vineyards adorn the gently rolling hills, and in the northeast, the land rises higher to become the domain of mouflon and chamois. There’s an altogether more leisurely pace, where the sleepy villages seem caught in time.

Walking and cycling through Provence provides a remarkable and rewarding experience thanks to the region’s varied terrain and cultural diversity.

Walking in Provence

Lazy days among picture-postcard surroundings is the way of life in Provence, a destination best discovered at a languid pace with frequent stops to admire the views. With quaint plazas and magnificent medieval structures, fields of lavender and friendly locals engaged in games of pétanque, the region's sights and scenery, stretching from the River Rhône to the borders of Italy, is best explored on foot.

Picture-perfect scenes

Walking Holidays in Provence
Walking Holidays in Provence

Whether hiking to the summit of mountain peaks or taking leisurely strolls through Provençal countryside that inspired such artists like Van Gogh and Matisse, the vistas across this popular region are truly captivating. An array of walking trails – ranging from the easy to the advanced – provide the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of these great artists, even travelling into St Remy where Van Gogh created a series of renowned masterpieces. The region has held a compelling magnetism for painters, poets, and writers for centuries, and on a walking holiday in Provence's countryside, with its scattering of villages and towns, it’s easy to see why.

From country to coast

While images of colourful flower fields and sleepy towns are iconic scenes here, heading away from the country towards the Mediterranean coast and the Cote d’Azur presents a whole new perspective of southern France. Lively harbour towns and rugged coastlines mingle with medieval villages and pristine beaches to transport visitors to what feels like an alternate France, while bars and restaurants serve tempting snacks to sustain gentle walks along the Provençal coast. From bustling Marseilles and St Tropez to demure Aix-en-Provence and the peaks of the Luberon mountains, discovering Provence on a walking holiday is relaxed and idyllic.

Cycling in Provence

Discovering the hidden charms of Provence on a cycling holiday is one of the best ways to envelope yourself in its landscapes and culture. The array of cycle routes caters to all abilities, and the region’s diversity can’t fail to intrigue; from glorious countryside to bustling town centres, hillside ascents to flat provincial roads, taking to the saddle is a fantastic way to enjoy Provence's delights.

Town by town

Cycling Holidays in Provence
Cycling Holidays in Provence

Covering such a wide area and varied landscapes, there’s little surprise that Provence provides a rich selection of towns and villages, each with a distinctive personality to those who call it home. Cycling from town to town provides the perfect means of uncovering the history of southern France and meeting the people that embody its way of life. Historic Beaucaire, for example, retains links to its Roman past and a 12th-century medieval castle, while the equally impressive attractions of Tarascon on the other side of the River Rhône hark back to periods of grandeur in the region.

Luberon climbs

Sleepy medieval villages and colourful fields of lavender are, of course, just part of the Provençal appeal. The peaks of the Luberon mountains offer challenging yet rewarding cycling, with majestic vistas across picturesque fruit orchards and vineyards. Perched high up in the hilltops are several enchanting communes such as Gordes, one of the most beautiful villages in France, dominated by an imposing castle and church. Nearby Roussillon, meanwhile, is a colourful town of rich ochre hues drawn from the adjacent quarry.

A cycling holiday in Provence allows visitors to explore its many contrasting attractions. With so much to see and do, exploring the region by bike is certain to prove unforgettable.