Vaucluse - Provence, France

Escorted Bike Tour of Vaucluse in Provence, France

By bike, on foot, on four wheels – these options are all part of the adventure, the website declared. For the active Kiwi, however, this trip is billed as an escorted cycling tour of Vaucluse.

The Vaucluse, the northern part of Provence, lies between the valley of the Rhône in the west and the Alps and Mount Ventoux in the east. Provence is a land of villages, perched in craggy landscapes of fertile valleys, criss-crossed with inviting pathways, rich with sun-ripened fruit and vegetables, truffles, lavender, honey and wonderful wines. Even the food tastes and smells of sunshine!

Throughout history, this area has been highly regarded – Celts, Saracens and Greeks all contributing to the shaping of the society, while the Vaucluse has some of the best preserved Roman structures in the world. Medieval theatres, baths, arenas, aqueducts and triumphal arches are today still in regular use.

The Active Gourmet Tour is a splendid way to indulge, in a leisurely fashion, in this region of France. You’ll picnic in some of the most beautiful settings you can imagine, play pétanque, glass of pastis in hand, in the shadow of a 14th century church. You’ll get the opportunity to learn about olive oil and nougat making, and shop for pique-nique fare in the colourful Vaucluse markets.

The tour will allow you to wander through medieval villages classified among the most beautiful in France, explore Roman ruins, including the famed theatre of Orange and the Pont-du-Gard, and follow trails to visit some of the stoniest vineyards in the world – Gigondas, Beaumes-de- Venise, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Côtes-du-Rhône – your intimate group will get to sample them all!

Food is as important as the wine and the cycling, from the introductory Provencal feast to eating al fresco at country cafés, culminating with the last night’s au revoir dinner by the banks of the Rhône River. The Active Gourmet’s routes are cunningly planned to reduce hill climbing to a minimum, unless, of course, you want the challenge! The trip includes a picnic high on Mont Ventoux, of Tour de France fame; but never fear, the majority of the group will ascend by bus before savouring the descent in the saddle.

The Active Gourmet traces its beginnings to 1992, when a group of friends began biking to wineries, playing petanque and having sensationally long picnics. After many memorable excursions in the wine districts of New Zealand, the first group of cycling sybarites headed to France in September 1994 and, over the next 14 years, hundreds of happy clients have followed in their tracks, enjoying the unique blend of activity and gourmet adventures.

Gail Trapp, the founder and director of the Active Gourmet Travel is the power-house that designs each journey with a distinctly Kiwi style. Gail is a self-confessed bonne-vivante, with a well-developed sense of adventure and a deep knowledge and love of food and wine, and a passion for the diverse areas that are featured in the Active Gourmet Travel portfolio.

That enthusiasm has won over double Olympic gold medal winner, Caroline Evers-Swindell who is joining the Active Gourmet Travel team. Whilst Caroline has often cycled for fitness, she’s looking forward to a more leisurely pace after a lifetime of tough training regimes. Her first two tours will be in Provence this September, and she’s eagerly anticipating sampling the notable pique-niques! All tours involve activity, but you choose to what degree: cycling, walking, golf, canoeing, even fishing. Gail’s tours focus on savouring everything a region has to offer, especially its food and wine. You’ll meander along riverside paths, through forests and vineyards, pausing to smell the flowers, browse antiques in the village market, absorb music in the ancient church; or whatever takes your fancy.??Non-bikers and singles are most welcome.

Accommodation is handpicked to reflect the character and history of the region. It could be a chateau, paradore, manor house or rural farmhouse, even a barn or cave-hotel. Stays are usually two-to-three nights, exploring the local area from a base. Without exception, hosts are interesting, hospitable and provide a friendly welcome.

I’ll leave it to one of Gail’s clients to tell it like it was. “My dream was finally fulfilled five years late, but well worth waiting for. You have opened my life to more adventures in this wonderful country.” ?Linda, Vaucluse Tour, Sept 07.

TOURS:
2009: Thursday 17 –28 September (11 nights/12 days) $4950.00 GST not applicable
2010: Thursday 23 September to 4 October (11 nights/12 days) $4950.00 GST not applicable??Facts:
All accommodation, daily breakfasts, 7 gourmet dinners and 4 lunches, guides, admission to some special events, support vehicle, quality mountain bikes with front suspension, luggage transfer, literature including a detailed itinerary are included in the price of the tour.?What’s not included: entry charges (you choose), follow-your-nose lunches and some evening meals, gratuities, items of a personal nature such as phone, fax, email, laundry, flights to Europe and trains/transport to the starting point in the town of Avignon.
Flights to Paris can be arranged via Thai Airways, Singapore Airlines or Cathay Pacific Airlines. You can then take the train from the Airport direct to Avignon.

Contact:?The Active Gourmet, Tel: +64 9 630 5594, Fax: +64 9 631 5593, ?Email: gail@theactivegourmettravel.com,?web: www.theactivegourmettravel.com