Trip in bike "ViaThôna" in France

France - ViaRhôna, from Vienne to Avignon

Departures every saturday from the 30th march to the 26th October 2019, guaranteed from 2 travellers.

Discover the Rhône Valley along the river by cycling on the ViaRhôna. With your family and friends, make your way into Provence from Vienne to Avignon, across ever-changing landscapes and colourful provençal villages.

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  • Descriptif

    Come cycling with your family and friends on the ViaRhôna, a new cycling route along the Rhône River, whose ambitious aim is to connect Lake Geneva with the Mediterranean! From the ancient city of Vienne to Avignon, the Papal city, our itinerary reveals the Rhône River’s secrets as it makes its way through different civilisations, a link between Europe and the Mediterranean Basin. Follow the banks of the most powerful French river as you cycle into the ever-changing landscapes of Provence; from sunny vineyards and gentle hills, through orchards, nature reserves, lavender fields and olive trees, beside châteaux, palaces, cathedrals and charming villages. Taste the products this incredibly diverse region has to offer: fruit, ValRhona chocolate, chestnuts from Ardèche, nougat de Montélimar, Provence’s olives, Tricastin’s truffles, and of course the world-famous Rhône Valley Grands Cru wines. Accessible to all, this tour associates gastronomy, heritage and nature, and invites you to enjoy biking safely on French roads, meeting some passionate local characters along the way.

  • Highlights

    • Vienne and Orange, ancient Gallo-Roman cities
    • World-famous Rhône Valley Grands Cru wines: Côte-Rôtie, Crozes-Hermitage, Châteauneuf-du-Pape…
    • Typical Provençal villages: Rochemaure, Cruas, Viviers, la Garde-Adhémar, Suze-la-Rousse…
    • Arrive in Avignon, Papal city and UNESCO world heritage site
    • Comfortable accommodation in 2/3* hotels and guest houses (mostly with swimming pools)
    • Daily luggage transfer
    • A safe itinerary mainly along greenways

  • Itinerary

    Day 1 : Vienne
    Make to own way to Vienne and get settled in your city centre hotel, where you will meet our local team and receive all your travel documents and bikes (if you are renting).
    Free time to take a walk around Vienne, ancient Gallo-Roman town on the banks of the Rhône River, classified as Town of Art and History. Don’t miss the 1st century Roman theatre, the temple of Augustus and Livia, and the Gallo-Roman museum. You are free to make your own arrangements for dinner. Overnight accommodation in a 2-star hotel in the town centre.

    Optional Activities :
    •Guided tour around Vienne: you can pick a theme from the following selection: Ancient forum, Medieval Vienne, Underground Vienne, Vienne’s market, Gastronomy, Vienne in Templars’ time…
    Duration: 1-2½ hours, in groups or with a private guide. Price: various, please contact us for details.
    •Jazz festival: from the end of June until mid-July. Please contact us for details.

    Day 2 : Vienne / Andancette (45 km / 28 miles)
    This first stage offers a huge variety of landscapes. Shortly after leaving Vienne, Ile du Beurre nature reserve appears with all its animal and plant species. You might be lucky enough to glimpse the European beaver, saved by reintroduction programs implemented at the start of the 20th century. Along the right bank of the Rhône River, enjoy stunning views of terraced vineyards, hanging onto the foothills of the Massif Central, including the prestigious Côte-Rôtie, Condrieu and Saint Joseph vines. The ViaRhôna then winds its way onto Ile de la Platière, one of the most remarkable natural sites of the middle Rhône Valley, between the Vieux Rhône and the canal. Remember to make a slight detour to the charming village of Andance. Dinner and overnight accommodation in a beautiful guest house along the ViaRhôna: gardens, pool and themed rooms.

    Day 3 : Andancette / Tournon-sur-Rhône (26 km / 16 miles)
    This second stage leads you into Ardèche, where the Rhône River irrigates farm lands and the landscape changes from terraced vineyards to fruit orchards. Half-way through, the Défilé de Saint-Vallier offers an unforgettable view over the Rhône Valley. This short stage leaves you plenty of time to visit Tournon-sur-Rhône and its surroundings.
    On both sides of the river, the twin cities of Tournon-sur-Rhône and Tain-l’Hermitage are connected by a picturesque footbridge, replica of the first suspension bridge built over the Rhône River in 1825. Wander around the narrow streets of Tournon, overhung by its medieval château, before crossing the Rhône River for a sensory experience at Valrhona’s Cité du Chocolat. After this gourmet visit, you will know all the secrets of making chocolate!
    Climb the famous Hermitage Hill, where, upon returning from a crusade, the knight Gaspard de Sterimberg, settled in 1224 and planted the first vines. Today, it is the heart of the Northern Côtes du Rhône historic vineyard, home to five famous Grands Cru wines (Hermitage, Crozes-Hermitage, Saint Joseph, Cornas and Saint Péray) and Syrah’s birthplace, a grape variety that is now grown throughout the world. You are free to make your own arrangements for dinner. Overnight accommodation in a 3-star hotel in Tournon-sur-Rhône.

    Optional Activity :
    •Ardèche train: Train des Gorges: set out aboard a steam train to discover the most picturesque part of the Doux Gorges between Tournon and Colombier-le-Vieux (classified as Historic Monument).
    Duration: 1h15 return. Price: €18 /person.

    Day 4 : Tournon sur Rhône / Valence / Saint-Laurent-du-Pape (52 km / 32 miles)
    Leaving Tournon and its surroundings, you take off again towards Glun and Valence alongside a roaring river. With its colourful markets, gardens and welcoming pedestrian streets, Valence marks the beginning of Provence. In the summertime, jousting tournaments organized on the river revive the fraternal spirit that united the old bargemen, testifying to the strong ties between men and the Rhône River.
    Take a break in Jouvet Park or in the Epervière Marina before keeping on towards Soyons, Charmes-sur-Rhône and Beauchastel, beautiful and traditional Ardèche villages.
    Dinner and overnight accommodation in a guest house (with pool) in Saint-Laurent-du-Pape (4 km / 2 miles from the ViaRhôna) in the Eyrieux Valley.

    Optional Activity:
    Alternative route on the Dolce Via: a day among unaltered landscapes and vast natural areas in the Eyrieux Valley. Bike along the Dolce Via, a former railway line converted into a cycling route. Take the Ardèche steam train (Le Mastrou) to Lamastre (leaving from Tournon-St-Jean at 10am – arriving at Lamastre at 11.40am) and cycle down to St-Laurent-du-Pape (65km / 40 miles). Caution: hybrid bikes essential; the cycle track has a gravel covering not suitable for road bikes. Train fare: €21 /person.

    Day 5 : Saint-Laurent-du-Pape / Viviers / Bourg-Saint-Andéol (70 km / 43 miles)
    Your trip mingles with a heritage trail, with a striking contrast between the medieval village of Cruas and the industrial heritage of its cement factories. Opposite the medieval town of Rochemaure, the Himalayan footbridge passes over the Vieux-Rhône, giving access to a magnificent green way zigzagging onto an island in the middle of the Rhône River, with the bypass channel on one side and the wild river on the other. Before you know it, you will come across Viviers, at the Southern end of the island. This Gallo-Roman town, an episcopal city since the 5th century, has an exceptional architectural heritage. Passing by the Défilé de Donzère, the ViaRhôna meanders on through the alluvial forest of the Rhône River towards Ile des Dames. Dinner and overnight accommodation (pool and spa, 2 km / 1 mile from the ViaRhôna) in a guest house run by a dedicated winemaker, who produces quality organic wine on his family domain. Option to do a wine tasting on the Domain (Côtes du Vivarais, Côtes du Rhône, Côtes du Rhône Villages).

    Optional Activities :
    •Extra day in Bourg-Saint-Andéol to enjoy the treasures of the surroundings: visit the picturesque village of St Montan or the gorges of Ardèche (Pont d’Arc cavern, a replica of the Chauvet cave; canoeing), cycle the Ardéchoises roads or simply spend the day relaxing by the pool or in the spa at the guest house.
    •Extra night in Bourg-St-Andéol : please see the "OPTIONS" paragraph at the bottom of the page.
    •Electric bikes available to rent per day or half-day. Please contact us for prices.

    Day 6 : Bourg-St-Andéol / Cairanne (53 km / 33 miles, +450 m / 1 476 ft vertical drop)
    In Bourg-Saint-Andéol, the route leaves the ViaRhôna, crossing the Rhône River to Pierrelatte. As you begin cycling along the winding country roads of Vaucluse, there is no doubt about it: you are now in Provence. With its unique light, colours, intense fragrances, olive trees and lavender fields; the nearby Mont Ventoux and the stone villages clinging to the hillsides; the iconic Provence reveals itself all year, each season bringing something new and different to the atmosphere. The charming villages of La Garde Adhémar, Clansayes, Suze-la-Rousse and Sainte Cécile-les-Vignes dot our itinerary, as we climb slightly steeper hills offering us the most amazing views. Don’t miss out on visiting an organic lavender farm making essential oil in Clansayes (July and August only). Dinner and overnight accommodation in a beautiful guest house in Cairanne (pool).

    Day 7 : Cairanne / Châteauneuf-du-Pape / Avignon (60 km / 37 miles, +250 m / 820 ft vertical drop)
    Deep in the heart of the prestigious Châteauneuf-du-Pape region, our journey takes you through this generous land. Surrounded by renowned vineyards, ravishing Provençal villages, medieval remains, shady squares and picturesque markets, make your way up gentle hills to properly enjoy those magical landscapes. Feel free to take a break in the beautiful village of Châteauneuf-du-Pape: visit some famous cellars and experience a traditional French wine tasting (1 white + 2 reds). Your trip continues via Orange, city of princes and home to a number of major Roman constructions, classified UNESCO world heritage. Visit the antique theatre, famous for its stage wall, the only one of its kind in the western world. From Roman Provence, your journey ends in Papal Provence, illuminated by the unique light of Avignon, capital of Christianity in the 14th century. You are free to make your own arrangements for dinner. Overnight accommodation in Avignon in a 3-star hotel in the city centre, or in the surrounding area during the summer festival (i.e. the first three weeks of July).

    Optional Activity :
    •Palais des Papes in Avignon: Entry: €12. Private visits to the palace and city can be arranged, please contact us for more details.

    Day 8 : Avignon / End of the trip
    Free time to visit Avignon, the Papal City. Option to take a return trip to Vienne by train, to get your car transferred from Vienne to Avignon, or to spend an extra night in Avignon.


    The ViaRhôna

    Connecting the Swiss Alps to the Mediterranean Sea, the ViaRhôna invites you to cycle down the Rhône Valley, discovering its natural landscapes, unique heritage, remarkable sites and gastronomy. The full itinerary is still being developed, but 557 km (346 miles) have been completed in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Region, 114 km (71 miles) in Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, and 146 km (91 miles) in Midi-Pyrénées-Languedoc-Roussillon.
    The ViaRhôna and the Route du Rhône in Switzerland have been recognised as a major European itinerary, called EuroVelo 17. Further information on www.viarhona.com


    TrIp Grading
    Introductory to moderate (Day 6).
    Discovery overcomes physical effort. Stages (50 km / 31 miles on average) can be accomplished within half a day, so you will have plenty of time left for tourism and breaks whenever you feel like it.
    Distance to go: 26 to 70 km (16 to 43 miles a day), 305 km (190 miles) in total.
    Vertical drop is negligible during the first four stages (days 2, 3, 4 & 5), quite strong on day 6 (+450 m / 1 476 ft) and slight on day 7 (+250 m / 820 ft). If you are not accustomed to practising a physical activity, we advise you to take an electric bike at least for Day 6, which is a little bit more challenging.


    Circuit Characteristics
    Between Vienne and Bourg-Saint-Andéol (4 stages: days 2, 3, 4 & 5): you will mostly be riding along greenways (cycle paths) and a few low-traffic country roads. The itinerary is signposted “ViaRhôna”.
    Between Bourg-Saint-Andéol and Avignon (2 stages: days 6 & 7): the itinerary leaves the ViaRhôna (this section is not yet developed) and uses low-traffic country roads.
    We will provide a map and detailed topo-guide for the entire itinerary (6 stages), including direction instructions for intersections.


    Accommodation
    2- and 3-star hotels and comfortable guest houses, most of which have swimming pools.
    The accommodation has been selected carefully; we have favoured non-standard, boutique type accommodation, run by dedicated hosts, who strive to provide high quality service.
    Many places have been awarded the Accueil Vélo label, indicating facilities and services for cyclists (for instance, laundry facilities) and a quality hospitality (circuits, weather reports, etc.). In guest houses, evening meals are included systematically (full meal: starter, main course, cheese and dessert) so you can meet your hosts and relish the local produce.
    Copious, full breakfasts set you up for a day of effort (choice of bread, including full grain, cereals, muesli, fresh and dried fruit, cheese, eggs, cold meats, jam, honey, etc.).
    All hotels and guest houses have secure bike storage (except in Avignon, where the bikes are stored outside the hotel).
    Accommodation is provided in the hotels and guest houses specified in the programme, unless unavailable, in which case, equivalent accommodation will be arranged.


    Options
    •21-speed hybrid bike rental (Vienne-Avignon, including repair kit, handlebar bag and luggage rack): €155
    •Electric hybrid bike rental (Vienne-Avignon, including repair kit, handlebar bag and luggage rack): €260
    The return of the rental bike from Avignon to Vienne is the responsibility of the traveler. The bike can be transported free of charge in SNCF TER trains (Trains Express Régionaux). However, this is not possible on the TGV.
    •Transport of your own bike to Vienne (via courier): 2 bikes ; €200 /bike, 3 bikes : €140 /bike, 4 to 6 bikes : €110 /bike

    •Extra nights per person (including breakfast, bike parking and holiday tax):
    -Vienne, 2-star hotel in city centre, near the station :
    >Double room: €62 in low season, €72 in high season
    >Single room: €98 in low season, €128 in high season
    -Bourg-Saint-Andéol, guest house in a vineyard (with pool and spa) :
    >Double room: €50 in low season, €55 in high season
    >Single room: €75 in low season, €80 in high season
    -Avignon, 3-star hotel in the historic centre :
    >Double room: €82 (except during the Avignon festival, i.e. the first three weeks of July)
    >Single room: €125 (except during the Avignon festival, i.e. the first three weeks of July)

    Additional services (bike rental, transport of your bike via courier, vehicle transfer, extra nights, etc.) must be booked along with your trip to enable us to guarantee the necessary reservations.

  • Fair and Responsible Tourism

    Price Distribution

     

     

    Development Projects
    Our “ViaRhôna from Vienne to Avignon” project contributes to a charity development fund in Mali (€20 /cyclist).
    Last years, we funded three projects in the Dogon area (more than €3,000):
    •Drinking fountain in Gongo village school
    •Rebuilding of housing for teachers in Koundou
    •Micro-loan for the women’s cooperative in the village of Kousougou Ley
    Find out more about our projects at www.visiondumonde.org.


    Climate solidarity
    With the CO2Solidaire program, Vision du Monde chose to go even further in its sustainable development approach, by supporting projects benefiting the climate.
    Responsible and fair travellers, from now on you can also take part in a Climate Solidarity action, by supporting one of the GERES projects and protecting the climate.
    On this cycling trip in France along the ViaRhôna, your voluntary compensation is rated at €10, lowered to €3.40 after maximum tax deduction.

     

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